Ideas for Date Night #1: A Walk in Wallingford

This is the first in an occasional series of date stories, told not just to wax poetic about our fun times, but to suggest things you might want to do while staying at 9 Cranes Inn. We see it as our moral obligation to check out local offerings so we can better guide guests who’d like advice on where to eat, play, shop, and such.

A pleasant downhill stroll from 9 Cranes Inn, the neighborhood of Wallingford beckoned. Not just because it was (finally) a lovely but not quite balmy summer night, but also because we had a Groupon for Smash Wine Bar & Bistro.  The sun was still high enough in the sky to warrant sitting outside, so we ordered cocktails to enjoy while taking in the humanity who had been waiting a long time for such an evening to get out and about. Mike’s cucumber Smashtini was just fruity and sweet enough to be summery, yet not so much as to be girly – very important when you’re a guy with a martini reputation to live up to.  Not one for fruity drinks myself, still, I gambled on the pomer Smashtini – vodka, probably pomegranate, lemon maybe, and something else. Anyway, very red and not overly sweet – fine, as long as you don’t spill it on your white denim jacket (I didn’t).

Food followed: an appetizer of deconstructed crostini – chevre, tomatoes, garlic, olive tapenade and related spreads. Simple, pretty, and utterly delicious. I don’t eat a lot of bread and rarely rave about it, but this snack struck just the right note for yours truly, who needed something prior to the entree so the drink wouldn’t go to her head. Then came paella and sablefish, both of which were tasty and not too huge, portion-wise. I mean really, how much do you need to eat, and are you really going to finish it later if you take it home? A nice wine of something or other – they have many options and are happy to suggest – finished the meal for us tonight, but with desserts like peach rhubarb crisp and bacon doughnuts, we’ll be back soon. Oh, and did I mention the very appealing happy hour offerings?

It was early yet, with plenty of daylight left. So we strolled 45th Street, well populated with a mélange of other restaurants, grocery and a drugstore, movie theatre, and coffee shops. We settled on Chocolati, a local chain with stores in Wallingford, nearby Greenwood, Greenlake, and at the downtown public library. Good choice. Not only are they open until 11 p.m. (Wallingford and Greenwood stores), but also they serve Lighthouse Coffee, roasted just down the street from 9 Cranes Inn at 43rd and Phinney Ave.

You shouldn’t have just coffee at Chocolati, though. As the name implies, it’s quite a bit about the chocolate. Handmade chocolates you can buy by the piece – delight in a tasty morsel without overindulging, or collect samples of many kinds because you can’t pick just one. From absolutely apricot, dark chocolate salted pistachio, to fish n’ chips (yes, a chocolate covered potato chip in the shape of a fish!), you can indulge for as little as fifty cents a bite. We toted our treasures up one story to survey the bustle of 45th street below, and agreed from our perch that it was a perfect end to a perfect date with a favorite person.

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