The historic Sycamore Inn Prime Steakhouse is a landmark in the IE. The Route 66 staple has kept couples coming back since 1848 with its elegant ambiance and the melt-in-your-mouth, Midwestern, cornfed-prime rib and oysters Rockefeller, the tarte a l’alsatian and/or Luigi’s minestrone soup, the latter of which has been starting things off for more than 50 years. Tip the light fandango with a glass of San Simeon pinot noir, stare into the object of your affection’s eyes under intimate lighting, and order the Death by Chocolate indulgence for dessert. If you’re light on cash but still want to impress your date, hit up the happy hour 5 to 7 p.m. when wine by the glass is half off. You still get to take in the building’s rich history (there has been plenty of intrigue through the hallowed halls) and snuggle up by the fireplace.
Sycamore Inn, 8318 Foothill Blvd., Rancho Cucamonga, (909) 982-1104; www.thesycamoreinn.com.
The Knickerbocker Mansion is a Big Bear bed and breakfast of historical proportions, originally the home of Big Bear Lake’s first dam keeper back in 1920. It was converted to an inn during the 1980s with 11 guest rooms, wink wink, perfect for a slumber after a big meal at the hands of executive chef Thomas Bicanic. Breakfast in bed is part of the deal, but first you’ll need your Friday or Saturday night reservations (the only nights they serve dinner). Dig in to the rack of lamb or some osso buco or even Portobello mushroom ravioli before going decadent with the chocolate croissant pudding with bourbon infused crème anglaise. You’ll thank us in the morning.
Knickerbocker Mansion, 869 Knickerbocker Road, Big Bear Lake, (909) 878-4248; www.knickerbockermansion.com.
The Farm Artisan
Owner/executive chef Roberto Argentina will tempt you with his take on veggie-laden modern American cuisine, heavy on the organic and locally grown produce and minimally processed foods. The Italian-born Texas transplant knows his way around a romantic dinner, with minimalistic atmosphere and plenty of decadence. The menus are seasonal and change often, but last we checked the pork belly over sage cannellini beans and quince fruit appetizer was still rockin’ the joint, and that’s enough to drag our date in there any time. Since we are partial to the abundance of small plate vegetarian options, the menu got us in the mood for gourmet amore: the roasted Portobello mushrooms with wilted chard and warm goat cheese and the acorn squash with wild rice, sautéed mushrooms and ginger sage sauce had us all riled up before the risotto entree was even on the table.
The Farm Artisan, 22 E. State St., Redlands, (909) 792-1162; www.farmartisanfoods.com.
–Arrissia Owen Turner