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4 February Date Night Ideas in Waterloo Region

4 February Date Night Ideas in Waterloo Region4 February Date Night Ideas in Waterloo Region
BY ANDREW COPPOLINO | FEBRUARY 2022

February is a month to be positive especially when we note that the days are getting longer and the darkness of winter, though still cold, is brightening. It’s also good news that in-door dining is back at area restaurants, and, with limitations that make sense for now, we can visit our favourite coffee shops, noodle houses, breakfast joints and finer-dining venues to spend some time with family and friends.And Valentine’s Day is smack-dab in the middle of the month – it’s another great reason to visit a food business, whether restaurant or retail store, and celebrate with the special person in your life. With the lifting of the recent lockdown, restaurants have been busy getting their menus and dining rooms ready for customers on what is one of their most important event days in the year..

We devised a short-list of possible date nights in a variety of forms for February. But just a gentle reminder that restaurants are slowly getting back to full operation when it comes to staffing, supplies and resources: so be patient, be kind and be loving. Isn’t that what Cupid’s arrows are all about?

Ice Cream in February?

The chill of ice cream in the chill of February? Yep. Just as sure as it is rich and creamy when it’s Four All Ice Cream.

The inventive and freshly-churned ice creams from right here in Waterloo Region are splendid and satiating spoonfuls that can even fend off the deepening cold of February. It’s a perfect indulgence that means curling up under a blanket and revelling in a winter’s evening of ice cream with a side serving of your favourite streaming entertainment.

two scoops of Four All Ice Cream's Cinnamon Fudge Swirl ice cream on a turquoise coloured plate with red candy hearts around them, and a metal ice cream scoop lying beside them

Four All’s Cinnamon Fudge Swirl ice cream

Owner and head ice-cream aficionado, Ajoa Mintah, says Four All has special varieties rolling out.

“We have several sweet treats coming up for Valentine’s Day,” Mintah says. “We think that ice cream is the perfect way to stay cozy and celebrate.”

Four-All has three different boxes from which to select: Treat Box, Mixed Treat Box and Vegan Treat Box. “The Mixed Treat Box is half vegan and each box features two dipped ice cream sandwiches, two sprinkle ice cream bars, two waffle-cone fortune cookies with customizable messages and two Valentine’s fortune cookies,” Mintah adds.

There is also the Sweet Sundae Box for Two, which includes fudge sauce, salted caramel sauce and mini M&Ms’; the Family Sundae Box with a choice of two ice creams; and, Four-All-O-Grams, dipped ice cream sandwiches or sprinkle bar, a Valentine’s fortune cookie and Valentine’s card.

“We also have four new ice creams,” says Mintah. “Chocolate Caramel Crunch featuring Hugo & Nate Caramels, Cinnamon Fudge Swirl with cinnamon heart ice cream, Queen of Roses with rose ice cream, and a vegan chocolate truffle sorbet. We’re thinking this February is one of the sweetest ever – and Family Day is right around the corner, too, so the sundae boxes are ideal for that.”

An open box showing its contents. There are various waffle cones, ice cream toppings two small containers with ice cream, and candies and sprinkles all around the box. The box is a Sundae box from Four All Ice Cream in Waterloo

Sundae Box from Four All Ice Cream (Photo: Four All Ice Cream)

Style-moderne lounging in a lobby bar

The ne plus ultra of the lobby bar in the region – but it’s not in a hotel, of course: Loloan Lobby Bar and a couple of very comfortable stools at the 20-seat quartz bar is a perfect location to sit, side-by-side, and reflect and watch the world go by. Enjoy expertly crafted cocktails and take in the style-moderne design and southeast Asian elephant motifs: such moments are precious and with the food prepared by Loloan chef Sean Pambid they’re also delicious. Along with the cocktails, select a few plates for sharing: perhaps freshly-shucked and briny oysters with a nam jim sauce.

Chef-owner Paul Boehmer suggests looking for a few new appetizers as limited-seating in-house dining returns.

“We’ve been working on a banh mi kind of plate with a foie gras torchon, country loaf, bone marrow and preserves, as well as a veggie purée trio with red curry beets, smoked eggplant and Montforte cheese.”

Another delicacy certain to spark a date night is dom ka soup with a quenelle of chicken laced with winter truffle and a garnish of sturgeon caviar croutons. “We’re also going with a poached lobster and mahi-mahi grilled in banana leaf. There will be a Javanese ‘rawon’ soup as a main course. I was finally able to source the elusive black nut needed, buah keluak, and it’s on its way from Indonesia,” he says.

From the inventive kitchen at Loloan, Boehmer and Pamid give you the chance to experience a unique dining-out date in the Region. And, incidentally, the special “Rolling Stones” cocktails, a partnership with THEMUSEUM’s UNZIPPED exhibit of the greatest rock and roll band in history, will be featured for a couple more months along with the Loloan regular classics, according to Boehmer.

 

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Dinner and movie

It’s a classic pairing that has been erratic in the last couple of years, and it’s nice to see it returning, even in a limited pandemic version: it’s dinner and movie, a tandem effort by Apollo Cinema and TWH Social in The Walper Hotel.

a white plate displaying a sliced beet salad. There are several different types of beets that are sliced up - golden beets, red and white striped beets and orange beets - beautifully arranged on the plate and drizzled with dressing

Marinated Beets – one of the appetizer selections at TWH Social (Photo: TWH Social)

From February 11-19, TWH is offering a Valentine’s prix-fixe menu for $60 per person, including a ticket to Apollo Cinema. Any reservation booked from 5 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. that orders the menu will get a ticket.

“With Valentine’s Day falling on a Monday this year, we wanted to offer something engaging and for more than just the single day Monday itself,” according to Abbey Rush, TWH Social restaurant manager.

Appetizers at TWH Social are a choice of Caesar salad, marinated beets and butternut squash soup and mains are braised beef short rib with confit fingerling potatoes, roasted duck with terrine and parsnip purée or crispy trout with farro and pear butter, while desserts to select from are either chocolate tart or classic berry cheesecake.

The dinner and its seating will allow you time to enjoy a meal and then a movie screening at 7 p.m. at Apollo, just a four-minute walk from TWH, according to Rush.

“Cara from Apollo says they are pleased to be able partner with us,” says Rush. “So, it’s a great date night. Or, let’s face it, it’s just great to get out of the house and experience DTK again.”

Outdoor hygge comfort in the (very) crisp cold

Outdoor patios are de rigueur, and even though they are now part of the business model for many food-and-beverage operations, there is something decidedly – and romantically – very Canadian about them.

a view of Langdon Hall's Winter House. There is a light dusting of snow on the ground and the roof of the structure: it is a rustic looking structure with wooden beams with drapes softly hanging down from the ceiling to the ground.

Langdon Hall’s Winter House (Photo: Bradley Macklam)

So huddle together and brave the comfort of polar conditions at Langdon Hall’s remarkably beautiful and comfortable “Summer House” – which has recently pivoted, with no little pandemic alacrity, into a covered and heated “Winter House” wonderland. The patio is usually a hot spot in Waterloo Region for summer events like weddings, and its current re-invention for traditional Canadian ice and snow is nothing less than brilliant and beautiful, according Erin Laskis of Langdon Hall Country House Hotel and Spa.

“We encourage our guests to embrace their après-ski mentality and join us in the Winter House dressed in warm gear and ready to have a great time,” Laskis says.

Under the shelter is supremely comfortable outdoor amenities, from couches and chairs, a fireplace, candles, rustic arboreal decor, a nicely stocked bar and of course a phalanx of outdoor patio heaters.

a person sitting in front of the fireplace at Langdon Hall's Winter House. The person is holding a menu: there is a beverage and a small food dish on the table in front of them. The person has a blanket across their lap.

The fireplace at Winter House (Photo: Bradley Macklam)

The cocktails can be the toasty-warm variety, while the food takes the shape of shareable dishes (akin to the iconic tapas snacks from the hot, sun-drenched Iberian Peninsula) and more. They are the purview of Langdon executive chef Jason Bangerter.

“For me, this concept and the Winter House are perfect for winter. It’s just such a beautiful part of our property,” Bangerter says.

It’s at once “Canadiana” and a Nordic-style setting with “hygge” comfort. “This is an experience in the middle of our Carolinian forest terroir,” adds Bangerter. “We wanted to bring that forest terroir, the woods and evergreens, inside the House.”

He describes the food as simple, “outdoor” and tapas-style sharing that includes game, cassoulet and ragù comfort flavours. Bangerter explored Langdon’s deep kitchen storage and turned up some small cast-iron pans. “They’re great for digging into with some bread.” That might be brimming with a warm cod brandade, for instance, a dish with a quintessential Canadian cod.

“Plates don’t make sense out here,” adds Bangerter. “This is more rustic and outdoors. We use wood, branches and bundles of juniper from our property. We feature those for Langdon’s indoor dining, too, at times, but with this cold winter and the outdoors, it helps make the food as whimsical and casual as the space is.”

Laskis says the country house, hotel and spa is “incredibly lucky to have this space,” giving it the ability to pivot with the pandemic restrictions, including sharing it with bipeds and quadrupeds alike.

“We welcome overnight guests, outside guests and even your furry friends to come join us,” she says.

a beautifully decorated, rustic covered structure with open sides and low lighting. Outside there is snow on the ground: inside there are comfortable looking chairs and sofas, with many small side tables with lighted candles on them

The Winter House at Landon Hall (Photo: Bradley Macklam)

*****

Andrew Coppolino is a writer-broadcaster, and is a food columnist with CBC Radio in Waterloo Region. Following a stint as a cook at a restaurant in Kitchener, Andrew chose to work with food from the other side of the kitchen pass. As a food writer, he is dedicated to promoting and nurturing culinary businesses and advocating for local chefs and restaurants. Andrew’s work has been published in newspapers and magazines across Canada, the United States and England. Follow him on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

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