When it comes to dining out with the one you love, a lack of ambience can certainly spoil a mood. From dining in the dark to noisy and unbecoming surrounds, come Valentine's Day, be sure to consider a date night locale that will ensure your evening is truly memorable, for all the right reasons.
Here are nine deliciously romantic restaurants that we don't doubt you'll fall head-over-heels in love with, before the main course rolls around:
1. Petit Bocal, Auckland
Driving through Auckland's Sandringham, you'll find an adorable French bistro with a reputable following. Boasting a sensational French wine list, an abundance of Bleu d'Auvergne and a welcoming atmosphere, look no further than Petit Bocal for an intimate and understated evening out.
2. Apèro, K-Road, Auckland
Seriously, one look at this hole-in-the-wall French eatery and you'll be swooning. It's safe to say that anyone who has dined at Apèro Food and Wine would agree that chef Leslie Hottiaux's food is world-class. It's one of our favourite spots to grab a bite of incredible French-inspired food (alongside a glass of beautifully matched wine, of course).
3. Rata Dining, Queenstown
With celebrated Kiwi chef Josh Emmett at its helm, Rata Dining boasts the recipe for success. Offering the best seasonal produce from throughout the region and a warm, ambient atmosphere, escape to picturesque Queenstown this Valentine's Day and make a weekend of it.
4. Bellota, Auckland
Offering a casual Spanish dining atmosphere, Sky City's Bellota is a wonderfully relaxed option come date night. Here you'll find an exclusively Spanish wine list and authentic tapas crafted by head chef Ernest Pietx.
5. Hippopotamus, Wellington
Located inside Wellington's famed Museum Hotel, you'll find a restaurant with a distinct point of difference. Offering masterfully-mixed seasonal cocktails and inspired modern French fare, Hippopotamus is the kind of eatery that'll stick with you long after you depart the capital.
6. Chim Choo Ree, Hamilton
With warm, mood lighting and a creative European menu, there's something captivatingly romantic about Hamilton's award-winning Chim Choo Ree. We suggest you stay for the full three courses and linger on the decadent dessert menu.
7. Barulho, Auckland
Parnell, we're in love. Sarah Ginella and Nico Mendez have created a thriving little hub of gastronomic proportions. Upon entry, the warm buzz and ambient fairy lights have you dreaming of balmy Spanish summers. The menu reads like your favourite romantic European holiday, offering a beautifully curated selection of tapas and Spanish classics. It's little wonder why Barulho has become a fast-favourite.
8. Paris Butter, Auckland
If a trip to the French capital isn’t on the cards any time soon, Herne Bay's Paris Butter is a welcome consolation. Simply put, this gorgeous French bistro is a welcome respite from the day-to-day grind, with a beautiful menu to boot. From the plush green seats to the cosy tables for two, you have our full permission to make doe-eyes at your beloved over chef Nick Honeyman's Coq au Vin come February 14.
9. Masu, Auckland
From the dark and decadent decor to the seriously sleek culinary offerings, SkyCity's crown jewel, Japanese eatery Masu, quite simply screams "sophisticated date night."
Seek solace in an easy-to-navigate cocktail and culinary menu serving up delicate portions come Valentine's Day, with standout dishes like the tartare of salmon and tuna with a house-made rice cracker or tempura scampi with sour dashi, red onion, chilli and coriander.