Best Romantic Dinner
The turn-of-the-century mansion and gardens, which recently underwent a dazzling renovation, set the mood before you even walk in. Once inside, you pass through a cathedral-ceilinged bar before encountering a series of lovely dining rooms, which meld seamlessly with the tropical gardens spread over three acres. The south room is the best -- intimately lit, painted with birds and foliage, one wall open to the pond below. Outside, widely spaced tables are perched on gazebos above cascading pools. The contemporary Florida cooking and the smooth, knowledgeable waitstaff live up to the setting. The reasonably priced menu, which changes weekly, includes appetizers like hearts of palm salad with jicama and passion fruit vinaigrette, and barbecued center-cut pork chop with sun-dried cherry salsa as an entrée. The wine list is excellent, the dessert selection fine. But the burbling waters and dense foliage are what help put you in the mood. And the moonlight helps, of course. Arrive early to avoid a lengthy wait, and ask for the very private two-top next to the firecracker bush. You can even spend the night in one of the cozy villas at the edge of the gardens. If this place doesn't do the trick, find yourself another mate.
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