By Chris Bavender
There is just something about a fire that screams romance. Maybe it’s the dim lighting creating an intimate atmosphere, or perhaps the warm glow bathing your skin as you gaze into the glimmering flames and enjoy a cozy dinner with that special someone.
And, when it comes to setting the mood on Valentine’s Day (and every day) it could be the reason so many restaurants feature fireplaces. At The Gathering Bistro and Pub at Geist, the fireplace – located in the center of a wall separating the bar from the dining room – immediately draws your eye.
“So it is the focal point of both the bar and dining area. There are about six tables that sit close to the fireplace in the dining area,” said Jill McGlinchey, managing partner at The Gathering. “While in the bar there is a hearth that bar patrons like to sit on with a drink to warm up.”
And, on Valentine’s Day, McGlinchey said, they want customers to “enjoy a romantic setting while basking in the glow of the warm fire.” And, she adds, many prefer to have a table near the fireplace.
“The light of the fireplace accentuates everyone’s best features and provides a warm, relaxing refuge on a cold winter day such as Valentine’s Day,” she said.
At 10 West in Cicero the fireplace in the basement – also known as The Cellar – invites patrons to snuggle down in the leather lounge chairs near the baby grand and enjoy a cocktail and great music.
“The basement is my favorite – I grew up with ‘the rat pack’ playing at home by my parents – Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin etc.,” said Brett Morrow, co-owner of 10 West. “With this in mind, I wanted to create a place where a couple could have an awesome meal, good glass of wine or cocktail and a truly romantic experience. The maroon leather booths, brick walls, low ceilings and romantic fireplace all add to this vision.”
But, it isn’t just the fireplace that adds to the romantic ambiance, Morrow said.
“When we were creating the environment, we had an awesome canvas to work with. The building was built in 1894 – with the high ceilings, hard wood floors and open brick. My mind was running with all of the options we had, I’m a big fan of modern, this combined with the natural elements that we had to work with gave us a truly unique space,” he said. “I think the large ‘log’ table in the center of the restaurant shows this.”
At Conner Prairie the nights of what are called “Hearthside Suppers” give patrons a chance to not only enjoy the roaring fire, but incorporate it into their dining flashback-in-time experience.
“All the work is done by hand, over the fire. The dining room is lit only by candles,” said interpretation program developer Michelle Evans. “All in all, if you let your imagination carry you away, you may really feel like the Conners might be home at any moment to further welcome you in to their home.”
While the experience at Conner Prairie is different, Evans said romance is still in the air.
“Ours, again, is different than others, in that we are cooking over the fire and not cozying down in front of it. Our fireplace is the centerpiece of the kitchen and is used just as it would have been in 1836,” she said. “There is something romantic about that idea of time travel but I think couples who enjoy cooking together at home would enjoy the chance for this very unusual cooking and dining experience. The sight and smell of a real fire just seem to bring out a more instinctive side of ourselves that seems very appropriate for Valentine’s Day. I think our experience adds even more to that when you are actually preparing food for and with your spouse or significant other.”