Valentine’s Day is on its way, so where is the best place for a romantic date in Durham?
From experience, it ain’t klute
Durham's most famous Italian restaurant is complete with candlelit lighting, and an authentic Italian menu. In theory, a date here could have you singing That's Amore in no time. Unfortunately, though, it does have the same ambience as Klute.
Pros: Affordable, and so dark you probably won't be able to see your date's face. Fabio's is just upstairs, so if it goes horribly wrong you can easily drown your sorrows.
Cons: So dark you won't be able to see your date's face, and the peppery spaghetti could make for an absolutely vile first kiss.
9. The Library
The bar, not the Billy B, although both will be equally chockablocked with students 'working'. In The Library bar, however, the atmosphere will be mixed with the cries of a few bevved locals and some rowdy socials.
Pros: Ideal for a testing-the-water kind of date. If your date is dull, you can watch sky sports over their head.
Cons: Be warned, if you end up sat in front of the TV, your date is probably bored, and just trying to arrange your date around the latest football fixture.
8. Nine Altars
Nice little cafe tucked away at the end of Silver Street, with views over the river.
Pros: Riverside view, great hot drinks.
Cons: Riverside view also means you are on view to any passers-by on the footpath, so not ideal if your date is fond of PDA.
7. Paddy's Pizza
Some may say claim going to Paddy's for a first date is controversial, but these are the same people who deny that pizza is the way to a girl's heart. Nothing inspires love like a free slice of Hawaiian pizza, or some stolen chicken nuggs. What spreads Saint Valentine's cheer better than the mantra: sharing is caring?
Pros: Very easy way to impress one's date, especially on a tight budget. It's on your way back home anyway.
Cons: Late night fast-food outlet ambience. Harsh fluorescent lighting, revealing what the person you got with actually looked like.
Cosy tea room, with nice cakes and friendly staff. The seating arrangement is conducive to intimate chat and long discussions.
Pros: Nice indoor and outdoor seating areas.
Cons: So popular you are liable to bump into ex-boyfriends, course mates, house mates etc etc.
5. Flat White
Durham's premium basic white girl cafe is certainly bound to impress, especially if you buy your date a full stack of the mango and ricotta pancakes.
Pros: Great food, and leisurely service means you can really get to know your date.
Cons: The go-to place for the meet-up brunch, it will be difficult to tell if you are really on a romantic date, or are just being brutally friend-zoned by a food-digger.
4. The Botanical Gardens
Birdsong, flowers and sheep make for a date based on a Shakespearean sonnet.
Pros: A friend claims it is ideal if you feel like getting frisky on your date.
Cons: Easy to get lost somewhere near the sheep field, especially if it gets dark, so not good if you think you may need to make a quick getaway. Stoners may ruin the romantic vibe.
3. Whiskey River
It has a fireplace and very comfy sofas pulled up around it, and provides a highly comprehensive drinks menu, if your date is somewhat fussy about what they drink.
Pros: Romantic atmosphere and cosy surroundings.
Cons: The prices.
2. Brown's Rowing Boats
Re-enact that scene out of Bridget Jones where Bridget and Daniel go rowing on the Serpentine.
Pros: What could be better than following in Bridget Jones's footsteps?
Cons: Awkward if neither of you know how to row, and your date tells you that you have to jump out when you become beached like a whale at the bend near Maiden Castle… (From experience, if you ask your date to be the one to jump into the river to push you back off, they will be VERY annoyed).
1. The Riverbanks
A beautiful cathedral, a winding river and grassy banks. Nothing is prettier, or more low-key romantic, than Durham in the spring time, so take advantage of the beautiful surroundings with that special person in your life.
It's free, and in all honesty, you are less likely to bump into awkward acquaintances you know whilst wandering around the riverbanks than any of Durham's plethora of cafes. It may not quite be Paris, but Durham is undoubtedly one of the UK's most romantic cities, so make the most of it and take the metaphorical (rather than physical) plunge, and make it a date to remember.