Dining out – oh, the sheer pleasure of a good meal and drink! Many guys will choose to eat out on their first date with another guy. What better way to be on safe ground whilst scoping each other out, right? Well… Let’s face it, the choice of where to eat (never mind what to eat) can be as agonizing as what to wear, what to say and what not to say.

The inspiration for this article happened when I came across the Where in The World to Eat Awards guide released by that bible for all travel snobs, Condé Nast Traveler. It cites the 207 best places to eat in 42 different countries. Noma in Copenhagen, voted the world’s best restaurant in 2012, made the list, as did the likes of the Brasserie Georges in Lyon and Hong Kong’s The Chairman, as well as Maaemo in Oslo which has just 8 tables – try booking a table at that one! You can just imagine the prices at these places – oops, there goes the mortgage for the next year!

Frankly, you couldn’t pay me in gold to eat some of the stuff at these top-rated restaurants, including one London eatery that offers raw Orkney scallop with clementine, hazelnut and Western Australian manjimup truffle that’s the size of a baby’s fist, and the photo of which looks madly unappetizing. Others have food that look absolutely sublime, it must be said. To be fair, it’s quite an eclectic list, including unpretentious places like a pizza joint in Brooklyn and a bustling, modest restaurant serving the best ceviche in Lima. Of course, not every gay-couple-to-be need to make one of these restaurants the scene of their first date, but it certainly would make one hell of an impression to be invited to one of these 207 best-ofs by a date, right?!

A first date can be a hell of uncertainty, gaucheness and what-ifs. But it can also be very exciting, especially if your date is just the guy that does it for you and seems a good prospect. Bars and nightclubs can be too noisy and distracting. Going to an event like a gallery opening or cocktail party can be too stilted or awkward. Drinks with friends can be tricky and even uncomfortable for all concerned. And movies as a first date really make no sense, unless you don’t want the ability to look straight at your date or talk to him. Dining out (or even, less formally, just eating out) makes more sense for a real first date. It’s sociable, not too formal (unless the filet mignon costs €1500 a plate) and one can get nicely sozzled if the date turns out to be a letdown. Win-win!

And, truth be told, few things are more revealing than watching the other side and how they behave as they eat. A first date at a restaurant should be Observation Central for any discerning guy. For one thing, how the guy eats will tell you a lot – sometimes too much! His smacking lips and wide open mouth as he masticates his food for the whole world to see will be a lovely foretaste (if you pardon the pun) of what it will be like kissing him. For another, and this is important: check out how he treats the wait staff. Is he nice and courteous to waiters or is he a total schmuck that’s dismissive and rude to them? That may be how he’s treating you in a few months, so take note.

It actually shouldn’t matter where you go to eat for your first date. It could be a fancy bistro with Dom Perignon on tap and a superb string quartet playing subtly in the background or a simple trattoria with pasta galore and checked tablecloths whilst the crooning of Dean Martin crooning fills the room. It’s not about location. It’s about him and how he makes you feel that first time. The dinner or lunch out is not there to make the date, merely to enhance it. And, hopefully, to make it special. Just don’t order the soup if your date is obnoxious to the waiter.