No one likes having to navigate the potential awkwardness that is the first date. While the tried and tested "dinner and a movie" combo seems to be losing out in favour of rather more kooky dating concepts (glow in the dark golf anyone?), you shouldn't abandon the intimate meal for two just yet.
Rather, the classic first date scenario is simply in need of a little injection of creativity. Admittedly the stakes are high; I'm sure I'm not the first person to reveal that I've unfavourably judged a prospective suitor on their choice of restaurant. For future reference if you want to win a few points for ingenuity, don't simply resort to your fail-safe local or the latest celebrity-studded hotspot - think again. The key to easing those first date jitters is to take a slightly more hands on approach when it comes to dining. After all, nothing calms the nerves like an easy conversation starter.
Choose a restaurant that offers something a little different; a meal that encourages physical interaction. While exotic cuisine may be nothing new to us sophisticated Melburnians, there is something rather enticing about a meal specifically designed to be shared by two.
Nyala African Restaurant has been a Fitzroy mainstay for around twenty years. While the food may be delicious, the undisputed first date drawcard here is the opportunity to eat with your hands; together. The traditional accompaniment to most Ethiopian meals in the Inerja, a spongy pancake-like bread, that is torn off by hand and used to scoop up the delightfully spicy dishes on offer at Nyala. For those of you who are a little hesitant to discard years of indoctrinated table manners; as they say on the menu, "Try it, it's fun!" Not only is it fun, and more than a little different, but it facilitates some sneaky hand-on-hand contact just in case you need that extra push to get things going.
For something even more involved, the Chinese hot pot is the ultimate interactive first date meal. While the hot pot is kept simmering away at the table, you and your partner place a varied selection of ingredients inside and cook it for yourselves. Both tasty and entertaining, and quickly eradicating any awkwardness, it is an experience not to be missed. Thankfully there are various restaurants around Melbourne that offer the chance to indulge in a shared hot pot such as Mama Sichuan Restaurant and Little Lamb Hot Pot.