A romantic restaurant is never too bright. When a dining room is dim, it sort of cancels out everyone else around you, and allows you to really zero in on your date, instead of the table behind her and to the left. Not to mention the fact that soft, flickering light is always the most flattering.
A restaurant that’s overly pretentious is never romantic: it makes you feel too self-conscious, and too hyper-aware of your surroundings. The perfect romantic restaurant feels special, but never stuffy. Look for an environment that makes you feel comfortable and cozy, one that invites you to lean in, rather than force you to sit up straight. (Note: elegance doesn’t have to mean expensive! It’s much more about the atmosphere of the place than the prices on the menu.)
The music should set the mood and underscore your conversation, but you don’t want to be shouting at each other in order to talk. That mariachi band that wanders from table to table, or the waitstaff that bursts out in their signature rendition of “Happy Birthday” every 15 minutes? Fun, but not romantic.
If this date goes well, you’re going to want to linger over coffee and dessert for hours. Neither you nor your date are going to want to do that if your back is aching and your butt’s constantly falling asleep.