Valentine’s day is fast approaching and now is the time to make reservations for your date night - you wouldn't want to end up with nowhere to go!

Restaurants can create many treasured memories for couples, so getting the ambiance and setting right can be as important as getting the food spot on. Picking the right place for the big day is a serious decision, but lucky for you, we’re here to help. In anticipation of our 2018 FOOD&WINE Awards, we released a shortlist of the Best for Romance locations around the country that provide exceptional romantic dining.

The top prize was given to Wineport Lodge in County Westmeath. With glorious natural surroundings, crackling open fires and the sparkling waters of Lough Ree, Wineport Lodge provides endless opportunities for romance.

Helping to create treasured memories for guests is all in a day’s work for the hosts at Wineport Lodge, Ray Byrne and Jane English. Known as one of the go-to places for getting down on one knee, Wineport Lodge was originally founded as a restaurant 25 years ago, but it now also features 30 individually designed rooms with uninterrupted views of the lake.

However, its restaurant is the true romantic destination at Wineport Lodge. The restaurant, headed by Ashley Welly, aims to utilise the best of Irish produce, featuring fresh, local vegetables and meat. Here, you are sure to encounter generous, rustic dining, as well as bold flavours.

Speaking to F&W after their win, Norma Wilson, general manager of Wineport Lodge, commented:

"We are delighted with our 'Best for Romance' award. It's wonderful recognition for all of our hardworking team who do their utmost to ensure that couples who stay with us or get married with us enjoy their special time together here and make memories to treasure"

A worthy winner, Wineport Lodge is one of the country’s most romantic spots. Knowing that the right ambience and setting are key to creating a great experience, the team at this destination of love are keen to set the mood for your ultimate romantic dining break.

Check out the rest of the runners up below.

Ashford Castle, Cong, Co. Mayo

Tinkling piano music, Waterford Crystal chandeliers and an excuse to dress up - dining in the George V dining room at Ashford Castle is a very special experience.

Old-school service and top-notch fine dining combine for a hotel restaurant that you’ll always remember. Executive Chef Philippe Farineau’s menu of “French heart with Irish produce” includes Dooncastle oysters and Ashford Castle’s very own caviar.

Belmond Grand Hibernian, Luxury Train

No mode of transport can evoke romance quite like an old-fashioned train, and the Belmond Grand Hibernian is a Wes Anderson-ish way to explore Ireland while dining in style.

Artisan cheeses, local smoked fish and dainty afternoon tea are all served on board to passengers on the Belmond’s Irish routes in classically decorated dining carriages.

Deane's EIPIC, Howard Street, Belfast

Elegant and intimate, EIPIC is a sophisticated spot for a special occasion. Alex Greene pulls out all the stops with a menu of lobster and Guanaja chocolate desserts, while the restaurant’s darkly cosy decor does the rest.

Gregans Castle, Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare

Cosy and welcoming dining in this 18th-century Manor House hotel ticks all the romantic boxes. Serving creative and modern Irish cuisine using fresh, local ingredients like organic Burren lamb and game, and fresh Atlantic fish and shellfish, Gregan’s is the fine-dining equivalent of a hug.

Inis Meain Restaurant & Suites, Inis Meain, Co. Galway

Panoramic views and the opportunity to truly get away from the stresses of mainland life make Inis Meain restaurant worth the boat trip.

Guests dine on a four course dinner that changes nightly, based around the best ingredients that the island has to offer and the restaurant uses only its own homegrown fruit, vegetables and herbs.

Moy House, Lahinch, Co. Clare

Honest and seasonal cooking in the beautiful surroundings of the Clare countryside are found at Moy House, with its daily changing menus and flowers picked from the gardens outside. Ocean views from the conservatory restaurant are picture perfect for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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#summer #lahinch

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Rosa Madre, Temple Bar, Dublin 2  

Fresh seafood, silky pasta and traditional Italian hospitality make Rosa Madre a popular choice for weekend date night, special anniversaries, and food lovers in general.

A retreat that feels miles away from the hectic cobblestones of Temple Bar, Rosa Madre is a truly authentic Italian restaurant that will transport you to the trattorias of Rome.

The Lodge at Ashford Castle, Cong, Co. Mayo

“Local food with imagination” is the mission statement of Wilde’s restaurant at Ashford Castle’s sister hotel, and the sumptuous and luxurious menus deliver exactly that.

Splendid views from the first floor dining room look out over Lough Corrib, adding to the charming atmosphere.

The Mustard Seed, Ballingarry, Co. Limerick  

A cosy country house restaurant that will wrap you up in its effortless charm, The Mustard Seed at Echo Lodge is made for a romantic getaway.

Organic produce comes straight from the kitchen gardens, Irish and artisan ingredients shine and a stroll through the pleasure garden after a memorable meal is a must.

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It’s a night to celebrate! #mustardseedmoments

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What is your ultimate romantic foodie destination? Let us know in the comments below.