Los Gatos dating

Romance and Dining in Silicon Valley

Couple Enjoying Meal In Restaurant

Anyone can book a table for two at the hottest restaurant in town, so what is the #1 key to impressing your dinner date and setting the stage for an unforgettable romantic evening?  Location, location, location!

Far too many Bay Area diners excitedly book prime time dinner reservations at expensive restaurants only to be seated at less than desirable tables for romantic meals.  Your $200+ dinner is well worth it when you’ve scored a private table with a view and feels like a horrible mistake when you’re seated next to the bathroom or an inch away from the couple seated next to you.

Think about it – would you ever spend the same amount for a middle seat in Economy Class on a plane as you would for a window seat in First Class?  Of course not!  In the restaurant business, why should you pay premium prices if you’re sitting at a lousy table? You shouldn’t.

There are a number of steps you can take to improve your chances for a successful dinner date.  Obviously, showing up on time and dressed in a manner that shows that you care about your appearance and that you respect your date’s time and attention are top priorities.

However, if you’re in charge of choosing the restaurant, you’d be well advised to also follow my maxim, “You don’t want a romantic restaurant.  You want a romantic table.”  Our new website, mostromantictable.com, helps diners find and book the most romantic dinner tables at restaurants around the world.  We’ve launched in New York, Palm Springs, Lake Tahoe, Wine Country, San Francisco and the Silicon Valley.

Here in Silicon Valley, Chez TJ, is well known as one of the most romantic restaurants in the area.  For over 30 years, the restaurant has been the preferred location for innumerable proposals, engagements, and birthday celebrations.  All tables at Chez TJ are great, but dining at either Table 42 or Table 43 will transform your dining experience.  Both tables are located in the quiet, comfortable, tastefully decorated front parlor room of the Victorian mansion that houses the restaurant.  Both are next to windows that will provide you and your date with plenty of conversational fodder as you watch the world go by.  The food at Chez TJ is exceptional, as evidenced by the Michelin stars it consistently earns for its outstanding contemporary French cuisine.

Perhaps the most romantic dinner experience in the valley is in The Champagne Room at Saratoga’s The Plumed Horse Restaurant.  The Champagne Room holds a table for two in a curtained alcove off of the restaurant’s lounge.  Piano music greets you as you sit down at your table while candles and light from a stained glass window illuminate the room.  The Champagne Room offers privacy and an ambiance conducive to an intimate meal.  The Plumed Horse is celebrated for both its food and wine – it’s food has been recognized by Michelin with at least one star every year since 2008, and the Wine Spectator has given The Plumed Horse 1 out of only 81 worldwide Grand Awards for its wine program.

According to OpenTable, almost 70% of their diners wish they could have table specific information when making their dinner reservations.  In general, it’s good advice to call a restaurant either before or after making a reservation to ensure that you’ll be seated at a table appropriate for the occasion.  You can significantly improve your chances for a successful date by choosing your restaurant and your table from the incredible selection available at www.mostromantictable.com.

Guest Blogger Jay Ward, founder of MostRomanticTable.com. After taking his girlfriend to more than 160 restaurants in the first two-and-a-half years of their relationship, Jay conceived of the idea for MostRomanticTable.com.

eComm 101

Written by: Linx staff Michael Normangay-feature

The past week has involved a lot of conversations about how people communicate while dating, and nearly all of those conversations have been about some form of frustration with hearing – and not hearing – from a date. Amy and I have heard complaints about frequency (both too much and too little) concerns about content (both too formal and too familiar) and timing (as in “Isn’t this a little too soon?” and also “Who sends a text at that hour?”) A good friend of mine insists that if you’re seeing someone who’s really into you, there’s no wrong way or bad time to contact a love interest, but given my own recent frustrations with a Poor Communicator, I’d have to disagree. Since the object of my affection is currently bedridden on the East coast in a fin de siècle-style typhoon of influenza, salmonella, and some other viral/bacterial pestilence that is likely the result of too much time spent in airplanes and not enough time spent asleep, I’m letting him off the hook for now. But for everyone else, here’s a refresher on communicating in a mobile and hyperconnected age… sometimes it’s still hard for me to believe that as a teenager, I actually had to be in my bedroom in order for someone to call me.

Control Your Text Drive….

Text is, by far, the easiest form of communication to abuse. It is also, unfortunately, one of the most dangerous. No matter how many emoticons you throw at your date, text messages are meant to be brief, and that brevity tends to make it very hard to understand any suggestion of tone or nuance contained therein. So don’t assume any particular tone or nuance was properly conveyed. Between people who hardly know each other (in other words, with someone you’re newly dating) texts should really only be used to convey facts. You should only use a text to send an address, to let someone know you’re running late, to convey a change in plans, etc. You should use a text to tell someone you’re standing outside, to tell him you’ve claimed a table at the bar, or to let her know your flight just landed. But use text messages sparingly when dating, and only use them to convey information that cannot be misunderstood. If you absolutely must use texts to say something other than “I’m wearing a blue sweater, gray plaid pants, and Prada loafers,” limit yourself to “I had a really great time last night and I can’t wait to see you again.” A text to someone new shouldn’t include words like “sometime”, “possibly” or “maybe.” Ever.
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Know Your Audience…

Some people love attention; they crave daily texts and phone calls. Some women love it when a guy showers them with text messages, and calls them “Baby” or “Sweetie” after a first date, and some men consider any contact at all between dates to be unnecessary and superfluous… and never the twain shall meet. Most of us are right in the middle, but regardless of where we stand, we all tend to assume that our dates should feel the same way that we do; after all, how could our own stance be anything but reasonable, and assuming we are attracted to reasonable people, should they not feel exactly the same way about how to communicate? It turns that’s not always the case. i-didnt-text-you-jack-daniels-did

When I look at my own relationship, for example, I know that Mr. Poor Communicator literally buries his head in work, spends more than 100 hours a week on his company, and often falls asleep on his couch in positions that are doing permanently bad things to his neck. When we see each other, he is fully focused on being with me, and does an excellent job of blocking out the rest of the world. But when we’re not together, I become a victim of that very same focus. For him, taking the time to call or even text me is just a distraction from the work he needs to finish in order for us to actually be together in person. What he doesn’t understand (because really, when do you bring something like this up?) is that I’m an only child, and my mother used to punish me with days on end of silent treatment, so when I don’t hear from someone I care about – no matter how well I might be able to grasp the underlying intellectual rationale for that silence – I eventually start to feel like I’ve done something wrong or disappointed them. Obviously, it’s important that I figure out a way to convey to him some portion of this.

If you’re in a new relationship or feel like there’s a disconnect in the communication style in your current one, this can be a really important thing to address. And it’s really critical to focus on how you feel, rather than to try to place blame or cast yourself as a victim. For example, I can explain to my guy that “When I don’t hear from someone I care about for a long period of time, I start to worry that I have offended or disappointed that person,” or I can say, “When you ignore me, you make me feel bad about myself.” One of those is likely to elicit an empathetic response and lead to a compromise that deepens the relationship, while the other could just as easily lead to a breakup. Since I don’t want a breakup, it’s really important that I focus on my feelings and my experience and that I give him the chance to be empathetic. If you would also like a compromise and a healthy change in your relationship, then you should give your companion the chance to understand your experience, too.

If you have the opposite problem of hearing from someone too frequently, you can take the approach of saying “I really like you. In the past, I had the tendency to move way too quickly in relationships, and it’s important for me to move slowly. I’m comfortable texting a couple of times a week at this point. That obviously will change as we get to know each other better.” Too often, we tell people what’s “wrong” with their behavior instead of simply expressing to them our needs, expectations, or boundaries. The truth is that there’s usually nothing “wrong” with their behavior; but that doesn’t mean it’s right for us. So have the conversation about what works best for you. Get to know your audience; I hope to be following my own advice as soon as he regains the 9 pounds he lost last week and can actually get on a plane again.

Work on Your Timing…

With travel and time zones playing such big roles in everyone’s lives, it’s really important to pay attention to where you are on the map… and to how far away your love interest happens to be. While you may be counting the days or hours until you can see him or her again, you should also really be counting the hours (on the clock) that separate you. If you leave the country, know what time it is before you text someone; there is nothing more frustrating that getting a 4am “Just saying hey from Seoul” text message, especially if your job requires that you leave your phone on overnight because someone’s life might depend on it. Be respectful of the life and career of the person you’re dating. We all know that traveling for work brings with it a tremendous amount of loneliness and boredom, but you want to be sure that you’re met by excitement – rather than frustration – when you return. An occasional mistake is bound to happen if you’re an avid texter, but if you do regular long haul travel for work, trade in your texts for emails. But if you’re somehow restricted to your phone and you still insist on texting, you can keep yourself out of trouble by sending all of those texts to… an email address.1C6005838-rosagolijan28FA413D-7FBA-FDD4-0A61-331979C22A42.blocks_desktop_medium

With so communication tools at our disposal, it can be hard to know the right tool to use in the right way with the right man or woman, so it’s important to use the oldest tools at our disposal – our mouths and ears – and actually ask about these topics in person when we have the chance. It turns out that in a wired (and increasingly wireless) world, that we’re all wired a little bit differently, so don’t assume that you and your date are automatically going to operate on the same wavelength. Dating is about getting to know someone, and that requires communicating, so you should actually be motivated to figure out the most efficient way to do it. In fact… the sooner you figure out the best way to communicate, the sooner you can start building a real relationship.

Are You Choosing to be Thankful?

By: Linx staff member, Michael Norman Quiz-Thanksgiving-Style-Header1

With the holidays just around the corner, this can be a great time to meet someone new, but it can also be an incredibly lonely time for those of us who aren’t surrounded by close friends and family.  As an unattached only child whose parents don’t live nearby, I was acutely aware of this kind of isolation just a few Christmases ago; I had very recently had a rather nasty surgery and both of my parents were sick, so it wasn’t wise for us to spend the holiday together.  I don’t think I’ve ever actually had a boyfriend of significant other during the holiday season, so that part I could handle – but being away from my parents was tough.

I thought I was going to spend the day alone (almost literally) licking my wounds and feeling sorry for myself until a good friend invited me to join her, her roommate, and one of her co-workers for an impromptu Christmas dinner.  While it certainly wasn’t the same as spending the day with my parents (which I’ve done three dozen times or so) it definitely proved to be one of the most memorable holiday dinners of my life.  (When an investment banking lesbian, a three-hundred-pound gay man on painkillers, a newly out gay lawyer who secretly wants to be a caterer, and a straight black project manager who was a collegiate swimmer consume 7 bottles of wine in 6 hours while talking about their families and their sex lives, it’s bound to be memorable.)  I learned a lot of things I never expected to learn that evening, and one of the most important is that being alone is often a choice.  Just because I wasn’t able to follow a family tradition, I assumed I had to spend a holiday alone.  I wasn’t allowing myself to consider other options, to embrace other types of family, to invest in other types of relationships, or even to invest in myself.

This year I expect to spend the holiday with my parents – just as I’ve done for years – but should that plan be somehow interrupted, I know that I’ll consider alternatives.  And I would enjoy those alternatives.  So even if you’re separated from your family – whether by distance or something harder to overcome – or if you’re new to your current hometown and don’t have an established social network, there’s no reason to spend the holidays alone.  In fact, if you take the initiative to invite new people into your world on a day when they would otherwise feel alone and possibly dejected, you might be incredibly surprised by the warmth and intensity of the connection that could result.

Here are some ideas for getting through the holiday season in good cheer, and maybe even building some relationships (romantic or otherwise) along the way.animated-thanksgiving-desktop-backgrounds-wide-photos-hd-wallpapers-free-thanksgiving-desktop-wallpapers-backgrounds

Host a “Misfit” Thanksgiving…

If you don’t already have plans for the holiday, ask around in your circle of friends or even post to Facebook; you’ll probably find that you’re not alone.  If you’re not a great cook, you have plenty of options that could still make you a great host or hostess.  Plenty of restaurants and grocers (like Draeger’s and Whole Foods) offer complete or a la carte solutions for Thanksgiving dinner.  You may find that one or more of your guests is a great home chef, so give them the opportunity to bring dishes (or just encourage them to bring wine or desserts) and fill your home with new friends and holiday cheer.  Speaking from personal experience, this can be a truly wonderful way to spend a holiday, and can be much more intimate and fulfilling than you might expect.

Take Yourself Out to Dinner…

If spending the day alone is inevitable, and you know you know that staying inside all day isn’t good for you, make a reservation for yourself at one of the many, many SF restaurants that will be serving dinner this Thanksgiving.  Some of the restaurants promising to give you reasons to be thankful this year include Michael Mina, Epic Roasthouse, Campton Place, and One Market, so odds are that you’ll be experiencing plain pilgrim fare taken to an entirely new level.  You might also want to stop into a great bar or lounge for an after dinner drink and some great conversation; you won’t be the only person spending the day without family, and you definitely won’t be the only person open to connecting with someone new.

Lend a Helping Hand…

For some people, volunteering on Thanksgiving is a tradition unto itself, and the Bay area is full of opportunities for helping out.  At Linx, we always think that volunteering is a great way to meet someone (who doesn’t like dating a man or woman with a heart of gold?) and the single person you’d meet volunteering on Thanksgiving will be just as impressed with you as you are with her or him.  Even if scoring a date isn’t the first thing on your mind that day, it’s not a bad consolation prize for being a good citizen. 😉  Good sources for finding volunteer opportunities include Glide Memorial, Hands On Bay Area, and Little Brothers.  You could also contact your local church or food bank or even a retirement center for more ideas; lots of people would love company this holiday season, and not all of them have the option of leaving their homes.People-volunteering-at-so-012

Relax and Reflect…

There’s nothing wrong with just taking the day to yourself and doing nothing at all.  You don’t have to leave the house.  You don’t have to eat turkey.  You certainly don’t have to eat pumpkin pie.  You could stay in, do laundry, sort piles of receipts, and downshift from everything going on in your life.  You could take the day to really think about your life, and examine all of the reasons you have to be thankful.  It would be very easy to focus on being alone, and to fixate on what you consider the missing pieces in your life, but it’s so much more valuable to take an inventory of what’s right in your world.  Most of us are drawn to positive, optimistic people, and the best way to be positive is to really be aware of the gifts in your life; you probably have many.  And you probably know what most of them are.  Don’t be afraid to make a list, and check it twice.  Christmas, after all, is just around the corner. 😉