Whether you want to relive those years of love on your anniversary, surprise your partner with a romantic dinner date on Valentine’s Day or perhaps you are planning to pop the big question—the idea of a classic fine-dining date night can never go wrong. Seating that’s perfect for cosying up, music that sets the right mood, lighting that shows your best side, and food that leaves you wanting for more, we bring to you 10 most romantic restaurants in India. By Rupali Dean

1. LE CIRQUE SIGNATURE

The mainstay of New York’s crème de la crème, Le Cirque is the first ever signature restaurant by the Maccioni Restaurant Group. Well-known for offering signature specialties from the brand’s legendary restaurants along with original creations crafted for Mumbai epicures, it is where the passion for a fine living meets the proclivity for fine taste.

The Romance

With its sensitively-lit dining room, gourmet Franco-Italian creations, and classic collection of wines, this veiled gem will ship you two to a whole new world of indulgence. Let the warm interiors with a sense of old-world fantasy, a tailored dining experience, and an unimpeachable service set the stage for your romantic candlelit dinner for two. Don’t forget to sip on a glass of classic wine from the wide-ranging vino library—the list flaunts a bouquet of over 230 devoted labels.

Couple Order

Couples on a date can try out Le Cirque lobster salad (poached lobster, avocado, orange, haricot vert, lemon oregano dressing, crème Fraiche and black caviar), black truffle risotto, Australian lamb chops, and molten chocolate decadence (hot chocolate pudding, molten chocolate and vanilla gelato).

Where: 8th Floor, The Leela Mumbai, Andheri (East), Mumbai.

Meal for two: INR 6,000 plus taxes

Reservation: (022) 6691 1344/45

2. ORIENT EXPRESS

With its luxurious cores that replicate a long-gone era of the Lords and Ladies, this 35-year-old culinary institution offers an exhilarating dining experience with its traditional splendour and service. It effectively restores a carriage in the train, and the setting of a remarkable era, focusing on classic French and European cuisine.

The Romance

Evocative of a bygone era, the old-style magnificence is synonymous with timeless romance. The dining carriage—with its mahogany walls is inlaid with Lalique of Cote d’Azur, delicate brass luggage racks, and dinner tables set with fine porcelain and crystal goblets—is a throwback to Agatha Christie’s world set in the Murder on the Orient Express. Classic European setting, melodious tunes by the resident pianist, and discerning hospitality make this place the perfect spot to curate the most romantic dining experience.

Couple Order

The ‘Degustation Menu’ is a thoughtful, five-course accumulation of hand-picked dishes that Orient Express has to offer. Begin with an amuse bouche of avocado, celeriac and truffle. Then select between camembert cheese soufflé, paprika sauce or baby artichoke, purple potato and truffle vinaigrette. The mains feature an assortment of signatures. End it with warm chocolate pudding or Madagascar vanilla blancmange.

Where: Taj Palace, Sardar Patel Marg, Diplomatic Enclave, New Delhi.

Reservation: +91 1126110202

Meal for two: INR 15000 plus taxes

3. TIAMO

For the lovers of open air and waterside decks, this serene space overlooking a calm swimming pool is where one can relax over some delectable Mediterranean cuisine, and sharp beverages. This restaurant whips up magic with freshly-sourced ingredients and superfoods. And, the vibe sets the apt stage for a romantic rendezvous.

The Romance

Ti Amo literally translates into ‘I Love You’ in Italian. Overlooking the looming Ulsoor lake, this entire space is done up like a rustic resort, with cabanas to lie under during the day, and dine at night. Tiny plants have shimmering lights on them, while the cabanas feature mood lighting and candles—all adding to the romantic vibe.

Couple Order

Think of curated menus for romantic dinners with a touch of aphrodisiac ingredients paired with choicest wines by the in-house wine sommelier. Try some of the Mediterranean classics—compressed tomato and burrata salad; mezze platter with house hummus, mint labneh, fattoush, soft pita bread and crackers; and, sea bass in a traditional French grenobloise sauce. End on a sweet note with either the traditional tiramisu or, alternatively, the cannoli.

Where: 25/3 Kensington Road, Ulsoor, Bengaluru.

Meal for two: INR 3,500 (for a curated experience) & INR 2,500 (for regular diners)

Reservation: (080) 2214 4444

4. MASQUE

An ingredient-driven restaurant set in Mumbai’s previous industrial mill area that offers a 10-course tasting menu—a first-of-its-kind in India. The definitely nouvelle cuisine is inspired by Head Chef Prateek Sadhu’s own expedition with food, starting with his influential years as a migrant in Jammu. Ingredients are sourced sustainably, and entirely from India. Each periodic menu taps into inspirations and flavours from the region, resulting in an archetypal place where old-style techniques meet modern innovations.

The Romance

Tucked away in a quiet corner, the restaurant’s sleek low-lit interiors accented with brass and marble, feel perfectly suited for a romantic night out. From the first course served to a chef coming to the table with every course to talk you through it—a dinner planned at Masque seems tailor-made and perfect to make your special someone feel more special.

Couple Order

Masque’s locally-sourced tasting menus change every few weeks, entirely depending on the produce of the season; so, chances are every dish you try will be unique, and unlikely to return in that form again! Opt for their wine or cocktail pairings, curated to perfectly complement the current menu.

Where: Unit G3, Laxmi Woollen Mills, Mahalaxmi, Mumbai.

Meal for two: INR 7,600 plus taxes

Reservation: +91 98190 69222 / (022) 4973 7431/32

5. CASABLANCA

Casablanca

Casablanca is  counted among the finest private dining rooms in India. The secluded Casablanca Room is tucked away inside the Souk, the rooftop restaurant in Colaba. It is a beautifully lit private dining room situated on the rooftop with a stunning view of the entire harbour, and Gateway of India.

The Romance

This is perhaps the smallest and only restaurant in the country that gives true meaning to the concept of ‘table for two’. The venue personalises every detail to the likes of the guest. Versace crockery and glassware, heart-shaped cushions, red roses, designer candles, and discreet service complete the luxurious experience, making the private dining room the perfect choice for a special date with your beau.

Couple Order

At this intimate table for two, Chef Simoun Chakour customises a handcrafted, nine-course Mediterranean meal with hot and cold mezze, mains and sinful desserts, paired with exquisite wines.

Where: The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Apollo Bunder, Colaba, Mumbai.

Meal for two:  packages starting from INR 40,000 plus taxes

Reservation: +91 22666 53856

6. OLIVE BAR AND KITCHEN

A patio with a casual pastoral ambience of a moniker, snowy walls, enfolded in the complete joy of Goan hospitality, is what one could look forward to, here. At Olive, virtuous food, laughter, ethos and tête-à-tête come composed in a pleasant melting pot.

The Romance

Think of a little sun-kissed, a little wind-blown and decidedly lazy setting, perched on a cliff overlooking the Arabian Sea; candlelit with an intimate locale, soft music, and gourmet café food that truly makes the ambience oh-so-romantic!

Couple Order

Chef Manu Chandra has a clear vision of balancing the cuisine between on-trend techniques, and classic unforgettable taste. The cuisine here joins hands with the vibrant Goan food culture, which bursts with freshness and flavours. Recommendations go all out for the mushroom tortellini, tiger prawn peri peri espetada, and a snicker bar to satiate your sweet tooth.

Where: Unit No. 1, Vagator Helipad, Big Vagator, Anjuna, Bardez, Goa.

Meal for two:  INR 2,000 plus taxes

Reservation: +91 78880 37772

7. UNPLUGGED COURTYARD

Elegant and austere, yet comforting and friendly—the atmosphere strikes a fine balance between accessible and exclusive, to create the perfect setting for a romantic dinner. The food, as with the service, is enjoyable. All in all, this is the picture-perfect place for an enthralling night of romance with observant but not intrusive service.

The Romance

This space is welcoming and warm. There are a variety of areas to drink and dine from: a few sun-soaked tables up front, a rustic red bus with  tables right at the front; the bar at the back; the main dining area with La di da seating, and the terrace (the best spot). This ‘Unplugged’ hideaway gets lively with DJs and drinks if your date goes on for long.

Couple order

Indulge in casual conversations, sipping exceptional concoctions with dramatic libations, craft beers or cocktails reflective of brilliant creativity at the bar to experience contemporary comfort world cuisine. Moreover, if you find yourself here after the dinner hour, Chef Akshay Bhardwaj says he’s not opposed to just whipping up off-menu creations.

Where: No. 9 Convenience Shopping Complex, Phase II, Udyog Vihar, Gurgaon

Meal for two:  INR 2,000 plus taxes

Reservation: +91 93198 92965/66/67

8. THE HONGKONG CLUB

A multi-level destination with authentic and progressive Cantonese dining and modern-day bar reflective of the twelve Chinese zodiacs, this club lounge is insightful of global vigour and arresting contrasts of Hong Kong. Indulge your penchant with signature small plates or take a gastronomic voyage with signature tasting menus, effortlessly paired with premium wines, spirits or your choice of whisky or bourbon.

The Romance

The Hong Kong Club is inspired by the romantic story of a young sailor Arya who finds love when he meets an elusive and mysterious Asian beauty named Li Na. The Hong Kong Club is inspired by his rose-tinted memories of her, their discoveries on the streets in the late 90s, his more recent travels to modern-day Hong Kong, and the excitement of young love.

Couple Order

With time-honoured techniques, the menu is curated with punchy flavours and the occasional edgy twists. Some of the must-try dishes include cauliflower and Chinese cabbage dumpling, lobster, crab and spinach shumai, Cantonese chicken in Chinese vinegar and soy, crispily fried scallops, wok-tossed vegetables with lotus nut, onion seeds and garlic chives.

Where: Andaz by Hyatt Delhi, Asset no.1, Aerocity, New Delhi

Meal for two:  INR 6,000 plus taxes

Reservation: +91 97113 47998

9. PRA PRA PRANK

From the classic cocktails (expect your drinks poured in sexy stemware) to the sensational menu, quality and service here are paramount. Truly a great attempt at proposing Indian and Oriental food for the 21st century, the menu is indeed a unique marriage of beautiful ingredients and techniques with interesting flavours.

The Romance

A great romantic dinner spot that boasts of an uber-chic bar. The menu focuses on local ingredients, and the inviting sidewalk screams for long hours of conversations. Not only is it an enjoyable spot to eat at, but you can also stay here with post-dinner cocktails that will ensure a super fun night.

Couple Order

Try the rainbow sushi roll, Japanese nihari and the nonya-style curry. Wrap up the evening with a decadent dessert of cannoli. The food and cocktails stand out, and everything is implemented with delightful flavours. All this with a service that is so warm that it can be described as nothing short of remarkable.

Where: Shop 24, Ground Floor, Cyber Hub, DLF Cyber City, Gurugram

Meal for two:  INR 2,500 plus taxes

Reservation: +91 95999 65292

10. Dum Pukht Begum’s

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Please, keep going. Don’t give up. All you have to do is get through today. Twenty-four hours. 1,440 minutes. That’s all you need to do right now. Breathe. Shower. Brush your teeth. Change out of your pajamas. Get something done. It doesn’t matter how small it is. When you feel like the world is too overwhelming, you have to stop being so hard on yourself. Stop pushing yourself. Stop assuming that you aren’t accomplishing anything worthwhile. Today doesn’t have to be the day you find your forever person or land your dream job or finish the project you have started. Today doesn’t have to be the day that you turn your entire life around. Today is just another day you have to make it through. You shouldn’t be mad at yourself for going through this. You should be proud of yourself for every new hour you fight, for every new day you survive. Because sometimes that’s the hardest thing you will ever have to do. So, keep making it until tomorrow. Every single day, that should be your goal. Make it until tomorrow. And the next tomorrow. And the next. And the next. Eventually, you’ll be able to add more goals to your list. Make it until tomorrow and meet your friends for dinner. Make it until tomorrow and start doing something you loved again. Make it until tomorrow and buy a plane ticket across the country. One day, living will be easier. But even once that happens, even once you reach a good place in your life, there will be still days when you suffer from setbacks. There will still be days when you have to remind yourself that all you have to do is make it until tomorrow.

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Showcasing inspirations from the royal cuisine of Hyderabad, Dum Pukht Begum’s is an effort to resuscitate the craftiness of courtly manner, presentation and cookery from the region. It gestures you to partake in a royal feast as it benevolences age-old recipes and authentic flavours from the kitchens of the royal families of Hyderabad in an ambience that is truly regal.

The Romance

The interiors and design of Dum Pukht Begum’s add to the earnest and romantic experience. A long chandelier-lit corridor leads to the restaurant, designed like a begum’s baithak khana where she would amuse her guests in style. The interiors, in silver and purple, redolent of a bygone era, induce a sense of the old-world charm.

Couple Order

Gastronomic sensations like murgh chandi tikka, Dum Pukht badin jaan, shahi nehari, and the classic Dum Pukht biryani, are positive to titillate one’s appetite with their exclusive savours and presentation. As the grand finale of an extravagant meal, desserts enhanced with the finest delicate of gold and silver add to the final crowning touch!

Where: ITC Kohenur, Plot No. 5, Hyderabad Knowledge City, Madhapur, HITEC City, Hyderabad.

Meal for Two: INR 2500 plus taxes

Reservation: 040-6766-0101

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