Seven of the most romantic spots for Valentine's

Time for a hot date? Try these ideas for a special dinner with a loved one.

Interior of Vietnamese restaurant Peasant. Picture / Babiche Martens.

FOR A TASTE OF THE EXOTIC

With its minimalist fitout, Peasant, in Mt Eden, is the place to show your date you know where to find good Vietnamese food. Dishes burst and crackle with flavour and texture; fresh rice paper rolls are stuffed with salmon, tea-smoked in-house, freshly flaked coconut flesh and best of all, served with plenty of pungent Vietnamese mint and coriander.

• 191 Dominion Rd, Mt Eden, ph (09) 638 6403. Rating: 8/10.


FOR A LOW-KEY HIPSTER VIBE

If you don't want to look like you're trying too hard, Golden Dawn is the perfect location. Order a few killer cocktails at the bar to get the night going and then tuck into the Krokety potato balls made with spiced black bean cilantro, feta and charred red pepper and lime creme.

Next try a slow-braised lamb roll with sticky glazed onions and mint yoghurt, or a dish of the familiar and comforting macaroni cheese with tomato chilli jam.

• Corner Richmond & Ponsonby Rds, Ponsonby, ph (09) 376 9929. Fully licensed. Rating: 8/10

Interior of Cocoro. Picture / Babiche Martens.

FOR A TOUCH OF ZEN

Cocoro is a small, yet perfectly formed restaurant tucked away on Brown St in Ponsonby, and is an ideal romantic option. Not only will it show you have impeccable taste when it comes to food, but that you also have a sophisticated yet understated sense of style. The food is a mix of traditional Japanese dishes combined with a more contemporary approach. The dishes all use the best of Japanese ingredients and are presented with painstaking attention to detail. We recommend going on a culinary journey with the degustation menu - and some sake.

• 56 Brown St, Ponsonby, ph (09) 360 0927. Fully licensed. Rating: 9/10.


FOR A FIRST DATE

It doesn't get more spectacular than a table at The Sugar Club, Peter Gordon's restaurant at the top of the Sky Tower. Watching the sun sink over the Waitakeres and the city lights twinkling as far as the eye can see offers the most romantic backdrop you could ask for. And if it's a first date and conversation is lagging, you can always play "spot your home, workplace, old school ..." From coconut tamarind laksa to wild paua, thrice-cooked pork belly to peking duck, all the dishes are entree-sized so you can create your own menu or opt for the degustation.

• Level 53, Sky Tower, cnr Victoria & Federal Sts, City, ph (09) 363 6365. Fully licensed. Rating: 8/10.

Interior of Kitchen. Picture / Babiche Martens.

STAY OUT ALL NIGHT

Depending on your age, Hotel DeBrett might have been your old stomping ground in the 80s. Today, of course, it's a chic inner-city hotel with Kitchen, an intimate restaurant which serves a pre-show dinner menu from 5.30-6.30pm and an elegant a la carte menu until 10pm. Think roasted duck breast with confit leg pastilla, shiitake mushroom, spinach and sesame orange or seafood risotto complete with scallops, market fish, cockles, fennel and a white wine jus. The perfect end to the night? Having a room upstairs already booked!

• 3b O'Connell St, Level 1, Hotel DeBrett, City, ph (09) 969 1545. Fully licensed. Rating: 7/10.


FOR AN EVENING OF ELEGANT EASE

You can't go wrong with a table at Ostro Brasserie & Bar. Situated in the Britomart precinct, with views over the harbour, an elegant interior, and a menu created by Josh Emett, it ticks all the boxes. Have a drink on the outdoor terrace, enjoy kingfish crudo, oysters and market fish ceviche from the Raw Bar, or pick from the extensive menu. Try the yellow belly flounder with shallot, capers and confit lemon and parsley; the Canterbury lamb rump with charred aubergine, spring peas, harissa and yoghurt; and, to finish, the Bombe Alaska served with mango and passionfruit sorbet and coconut sauce. Delish.

• Seafarers Building, Level 2, 52 Tyler St, Britomart, ph (09) 280 3789. Fully licensed. Rating: 9/10.

Interior of Cazador. Picture / Babiche Martens.

FOR A MEAT-LOVER

If you're inviting a hunter and gatherer out for dinner, you can't help but win votes with Cazador - a restaurant dedicated to serving game and wild food. The walls are lined with taxidermy, so they can wow you with their own hunting tales as you tuck into dishes such as loin of rabbit or fillet of boar. There are plenty of dishes on the menu for those who aren't so hearty in their carnivorous habits. Indeed the menu here is innovative and impressive and not to be missed.

• 854 Dominion Rd, Mt Eden, ph (09) 620 8730. Fully licensed. Rating: 8.5/10.

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