First dates are always  difficult. It's hard to know where you stand, finding the right balance of casual and formal both in location and attire. There should be few things that you should consider when taking someone out on a date. Location is one of those things, and to me it is one of the most important. When you choose a place you should choose a location that reflects your personality, perhaps somewhere that you enjoy going to but don't frequent as much as you like, yet has a special place in your heart.

Choosing somewhere too quiet puts pressure on your own personality to prevail. A quiet place may offer fewer stimulus to draw on past the initial first date questions lie “what do you do?” Or “so how do you know so and so?” Or … it gets hard after that really if the answers you are giving or get given are short and lacking in depth. When you go to a venue or location choose one that can provide stimuli and activity, this makes it easier to make conversation.

So keeping location in mind and with winter coming up companionship on these cold Sydney nights is imperative for normal brain function. We’ve whipped up a list of some of some of the places we like to take our significant others on dates around old Sydney town and we are sure you’ll love at least one of these joints.

 1. Chinese Noodle House

chinese noodle house

Located in “Sunny” Haymarket in an awkward arcade is a dodgy looking Chinese restaurant called the “Chinese Noodle House”. Sandwiched between a legit ramen restaurant Menya and an even Dodgier Chinese joint lies this bastion of affordable, fast and delicious Chinese food that is not only a testament to the age old adage, “the crappier it looks the better the food”, but as a test to see how your date will handle eating at a less refined establishment.

Will she cringe at the site of the place, hate the close quartered seating and noisy atmosphere? If so it might suggest they are too precious. The benefits of this place is that the meals are cheap, the food is delicious, it's BYO, and the the fact that it is busy and noisy will allow for easy talking points.

Other benefits include the higher rate of consumption means the food is fresh and not likely going to give you food poisoning. As the dishes are brought out quickly, it won't take long to get your fill, so you can break the ice quicker and move on to a cocktail bar sooner. Alternatively, if it's going bad, the end of the meal could create a convenient cue for you to call it a night.

There is no shortage of points for discussion, there are tacky vines hanging on the roof, an "out of control" eggplant dish that is a must order (caution its is always lava hot so watch yourself, if you get a kiss in later that night you wanna be able to feel it) and you can share a bottle of wine with cheap corkage. The Noodle House is an easy ice breaker, conversation starter and if all goes well in the future a great place to revisit and remember the time you shared food at this charmingly dodgy restaurant. We give it 4.5 dumplings out of 5. 

 2. MCA Gallery

mca gallery

Whether you like art or not this is a great place to go. For the most part you are watching them react to the art. Her opinion on the art and the speed at which she moves from each piece is a great indicator of your compatibility. Sometimes art gets to the point where you look at and you literally turn around to see if it's practical joke and there are hidden cameras recording people's reactions ….almost like a social experiment.

I guess you can use the “what the…” piece of art as a gauge to see the personality of the person you are with. If you see a beautiful “sculpture” of a rock, which is essentially just a rock in the middle of the room then you can end the date early run to the toilet and slip out the back door of the building. If she can see the humour in the absurdity of some of the piece and at the same time appreciate a true work of art then she is a keeper. Laughter is one the most important things in any relationship. Developing that foundation can be easy at the MCA as it provides endless fodder for discussion about the weird and wonderful pieces contained within. It's worth a try at least once. We give the gallery date a 3.5 Picasso's out of 5.

3. The Wild Rover

wild rover

It's often hard to choose a venue for a first date but when it comes to small bars, the Rover is one of the few that make you feel completely comfortable and at home. The staff at this joint are world class, unpretentious and for the most part when they ask you how your day was genuinely care about your answer. This place is the perfect place to take someone on a date as it loud enough for you to sit closer to your date but not so loud that you have to scream at each other. The combination of music, decor, and the charm of the high brass railed bar assist in making the atmosphere of the rover so inviting and welcoming.

Their food items are limited but in my opinion strategic: sausage-rolls and oysters. To paraphrase the old Nutri-grain commercials the sausage roll has “carbos for fueI, protein for muscle development” and oysters will give you...well you know what they say about oysters. Whether you're a craft beer connoisseur, cocktail lover, whiskey snob or a sausage-roll enthusiast, this joint stands out from the pack. We recommend trying the Irish Penicillin, it is a certified belter of a cocktail! Even if your date goes horribly you will always remember the first time the Penicillin passed your lips. We give this joint 5 sausage rolls out of 5.

4. Vivid light show

vivid light show in sydney

I remember one of my first days with a soon to be gf now ex at Vivid. If you suck at conversation then taking a date to this year's Vivid will certainly make the dead silence of dinner chatter a lot easier to deal with. Visual stimuli and interactive exhibits means any perceived inadequacy in your social skills can be overcome by a simple “hey, check that thing out!”. Also Sydney is absolutely beautiful so what better way to spend it than walking around one of the world's most iconic vistas with a whole bunch of pretty lights stuck on it. No more needs to be said. We give the vivid date 4 light bulbs out of 5.

5. Bowling

bowling alley under lights

Now I know this sounds cheesy but bowling is good for assessing who this person really is. Is your date competitive? Are you comfortable with the prospect of losing? Maybe you are a grub and the person you are on date is a germaphobe and doesn't want to wear the bowling shoes or use the holes on the bowling ball.

Bowling is a powerful index of compatibility and is a almost like a microcosm of an entire relationship, sometimes your winning, sometimes you're losing and other times you have sucked so hard at life you end up in the gutter with nothing to show for is a cruel mistress!

Perks of this is that now you can drink at most bowling allies, which is a plus for your confidence and your bowling game. 

The music at bowling allies nowadays is pretty garbage with the same top 40 business played on loop. If you like this music then good for you… if you don't like it, then seeing your date either enjoy or hate it may give you the insight into calling them up for a second date. We give the bowling date a 3.5 pins out of 5.

I hope this has been a helpful list. If you live in Sydney then definitely hit these joints up. If not then fear not. We'll be doing lists for other Australian capital cities in the future.

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Author: Kareem Ghaly

Editor: Ben De Campo

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