Dining on the Indian Ocean
Gentle sea breezes, clear night skies and the sound and smell of the ocean around you. Beachside dining in the Maldives is a breathtaking experience, but a meal on a private sandbank in the middle of the ocean sets the bar even higher. At Cocoa Island by Como, in the coral atolls of South Malé, the team will arrange a night-time dining experience on the resort’s eastern sandbank, where a personal butler will serve your five-course meal under the moonlight, complete with half a bottle of champagne. With the clear, starry sky above and sounds of the ocean gently lapping against the sand, it might be all too tempting to stay, were it not for the changing tides.
Price upon request; www.comohotels.com/cocoaisland
Eating well in Monte-Carlo
Long-time favourite of the jet set, Monte-Carlo Beach Club is the place to see and be seen. It’s Michelin-starred seafood restaurant, Elsa — named for American writer and organiser of high-society events in Monte-Carlo, Elsa Maxwell — is the place to go to for great food with stunning Riviera views. Executive chef, Paolo Sari, leads a team to put together what is a 100 percent organic menu. Book a table on the all-white-and-beige terrace and enjoy dishes such as wild sea bass with Riviera green citrus, warm ‘Panzanella’ sautéed vegetables and tomato essence, or honey-coated racks of roasted lamb served with celeriac and liquorice puree, and crispy potatoes.
À la carte from EUR 115 ($130) per person
Taking love to new heights
Paris is one of the most romantic cities in the world by day or night, but after dark, the City of Lights is truly special. Surely the most romantic place to see it is from the Eiffel Tower, specifically, Alain Ducasse’s restaurant Le Jules Verne on the second floor (which is actually 125 metres up). There, couples can feast on five or six course ‘Experience’ menus, featuring remoulade-style lobster with celeriac, black truffle and wild apple salad, and medallions of venison cooked in cocotte with winter vegetables and fruit, as the magical city glitters below.
Experience menu from EUR 185 ($207) per person; www.lejulesverne-paris.com
Night at the Opera
Love takes centre stage in this gourmet and cultural experience, designed for guests of the Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace in Budapest. The Hungarian State Opera House is revered for its Neoclassical style and its outstanding acoustics — not that you will need your singing voice, athough you will be taking the stage in this private opera experience. Arriving by limousine from the hotel, you’ll be escorted to the middle of the grand stage where a five-star meal awaits, prepared by the hotel’s executive chef, Leonardo di Clemente. As you feast on gourmet dishes including sea bass with black olives and veal fillet Rossini style, an orchestra and team of singers and dancers provide the entertainment.
Price upon request; www.fourseasons.com
Seven-star feast at Burj Al Arab
Fifteen years after its opening, Dubai’s self-proclaimed ‘seven-star’ hotel remains one of the city’s most luxe experiences. It’s Al Mahara (The Oyster Shell) restaurant is breathtaking, not least for the floor-to-ceiling aquarium that dominates the dining space. Sink into your high-backed chairs, champagne in hand, and take your pick from a seafood-heavy à la carte menu — just be sure to start with the Oscietra Gold ‘Grand Cru’ caviar with homemade blinis, melba toast and crème fraîche. Opt for the ‘Taste of Al Mahara’ seven-course menu with wine pairings, which starts with Loch Fyne salmon served two ways (marinated in beetroot and served with white sturgeon caviar, and poached with fresh herbs), and ends with Arabica coffee chantilly with Ghanaian chocolate crémeux and hazelnut biscuit.
From AED 1,170 ($318) per person; www.jumeirah.com
An Italian affair
Solo Per Due is, as the name suggests, a restaurant that serves one couple at a time. Tucked away in the village of Vacone in central Italy (about an hour’s drive from Rome), this restaurant is in the grounds of an old Roman villa, resplendent with mosaic floors and a traditional portico (porch). Book for lunch and, if the weather is fine, you can enjoy your meal al fresco with views across the valley — but a candlelit dinner oozes romance. The menu changes daily according to what fresh food is available, but you can arrange with the team beforehand if you have particular preferences. Summon the waiter at any time during your meal with the silver bell on your table, and be sure to immortalise your love story in ink in the restaurant’s Libro dei Pensieri (Book of Thoughts) before you leave.
From EUR 250 ($280) per person; www.soloperdue.com