There are ground rules. Methods. Well-established scientific schemes forged over years of intense fieldwork.
But the casual date remains a precarious and often poorly executed excursion.
Here to help keep things simple is Tartinery, a breezy French café opening tomorrow in Nolita.
Built by three French friends who noted a serious lack of authentic Parisian tartines (a sort of open-face sandwich served on razor-thin slices of French bread) in New York, Tartinery has all the ingredients for a Parisian evening of enchantment—charming, sharable French food, Serge Gainsbourg on the radio and a live tree in the middle of the dining room (proper foliage, of course, is crucial for any great date spot).
There are two floors: the food bar/open kitchen on the ground level good for sharing a tartine (go for the Rosbif, Foie Gras or lobster) and some bread (flown in daily from a bakery in Paris)—all prepped by chefs trained in France—while discussing your taste in berets.
But the downstairs is where you'll decamp for cozier moments—every table is a two-top, save for the communal table (for those moments when you can't bear to choose one dining partner). Or ask your garçon for a seat near the double-sided fireplace, a task made easier by the oversized numbers written on every table—be sure to request dix or onze (10 or 11) for maximum fire.
Or, as the French say, "en fuego."