A Fine Romance

Dinner at an elegant restaurant makes a perfect Valentine’s celebration, especially when combined with an overnight stay at a luxurious hotel or inn.

Savvy diners know there are five main criteria for a perfect romantic dinner: food, atmosphere, service, the view and, of course, the dining companion.

When all five align in perfect symmetry — now that’s romance.

We scoured the Buckeye state and picked the brains of some seasoned diners in all corners of Ohio to identify a handful of the state’s most romantic restaurants. But as good as these restaurants are, they excel in only four out of the five criteria that make for a romantic dinner out.

The “companion” part is up to you.

M at Miranova, Columbus
Columbus is blessed with a wealth of romantic restaurants, but seasoned foodies in and around our state capital have discovered M at Miranova (or, simply, “M”) and have turned the Cameron Mitchell Restaurants eatery into a popular destination for couples in love — or those soon to be. 

M is located on the first level of the Miranova office tower, and its patio, tucked into the southwestern bank of the Scioto River, boasts a panoramic view of downtown Columbus. 

Every part of the M at Miranova menu beckons. Wine lovers will find plenty of appealing choices on a remarkably flexible wine list, starting with an extensive selection of wines by the glass, more than a dozen half-bottles (an option too often missing at fine-dining restaurants) and a handful of magnums (1.5-liter bottles) in addition to a broad array of standard-sized bottles from all corners of the globe. Champagnes and other sparkling wines are a particular strength. 

The restaurant’s cocktail list is highlighted by the Marquee, consisting of Belvedere Citrus vodka, Cointreau Noir, agave nectar, blood orange puree and lemon juice.

Appetizers and entrees feature intriguing combinations of ingredients and flavors. The scallop starter, served over beef short rib-stuffed ravioli with horseradish leeks and sherry jus, takes surf-and-turf to a whole new level. Veal mignon combines veal tenderloin and braised veal cheek, served with asiago crepe and a shiitake mushroom sauce. And the beef filet mignon is poached in butter. Need we say more?

Dessert junkies can mainline M’s humble-sounding cake and ice cream, consisting of chocolate lava cake, hand-spun caramel ice cream and cashew turtle. 

But dessert can also be poured into a glass. After-dinner options are splendid and plentiful, including multiple tawny port, Grand Marnier and dessert-wine options. Scotch lovers will have a difficult time choosing from among the 20 single malts offered on the after-dinner drinks menu.