A dining experience can be many things - happy, horrid, peculiar, spectacular or an event of random ridiculousness.
Seasoned love birds, however, declare and testify that any romantic restaurant should incorporate certain nuances and possess particular characteristics to be deemed such.
The Sun News interviewed couples married for at least 30 years and asked them what restaurants they believed romantic on the Grand Strand.
"I think any romantic restaurant should have good food, and the atmosphere should be good," said Gwen Wade of Myrtle Beach, who has been married to her husband, Joe Wade, for 34 years. "You should enjoy what you are eating, and the food should bring back a romantic feeling."
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For about six years now, the couple has joined their dear friends, George and Mary Sands of North Myrtle Beach, married for 46 years, for Valentine's Day dinner.
The men pick the spot and surprise their wives. Last year, Joe Wade picked Waterscapes at 8121 Amalfi Place in Myrtle Beach. He said romantic eateries should be welcoming and relaxing.
"You should feel like you are wanted there," he said. "You should not feel out of place."
His wife added she has no problem sparking up passion regardless of where they are.
"I am a romantic person anyway," Gwen Wade said. "I don't need a restaurant."
For Stewart and Doris Strothers, Myrtle Beach residents married for 57 years, an amorous atmosphere at any eatery must be pleasing to the eyes and palate.
Aspen Grille, at 5101 N. Kings Highway in Myrtle Beach, is among those the couple enjoy because of the food, service, the decor and the look of its staff.
"I enjoy places where there is soft music, sort of dim lighting and nice table settings," he said. "I like it when the waiters and waitresses are dressed nicely. I don't think we go to a lot of romantic places, but we go where the food is good."
Rossi's Italian Restaurant, at 9600 N. Kings Highway in Myrtle Beach, is also one of the couple's preferred romantic spots.
"Rossi's is good," Doris Strothers said. "The lights are low, and they have piano music."
The Melting Pot, at 5001 N. Kings Highway, Suite 104 in Myrtle Beach, is a place she believes has the stuff to make for a passionate dining experience. However, she has only visited there with friends.
"I like the Melting Pot because you can sit there and talk and cook your food, but I think it is an experience better shared with other couples," she said.
For Joe and Neen Durkin, Pawleys Island residents married for 30 years, oceanfront dining is a surefire win.
Ocean One, at 1 Norris Drive inside The Oceanfront Litchfield Inn in Pawleys Island, is such a place.
"It's right on the beach," Joe Durkin said. "It has tables out there. Four or five steps to the dune and then you are out on the beach. It's especially pleasant during nice weather and the moon is coming up over the ocean - now that is romantic."
Frank's and Frank's Outback, at 10434 Ocean Highway (U.S. 17) in Pawleys Island, is also a place at which they prefer dining when feeling lovey-dovey.
"One is indoors and it is sort of small and intimate but noisy," Joe Durkin said. "The other one is out back. It is basically under a couple of tents. They have sheer drapes that come down the sides. It has a wooden floor that is kind of elevated. It's kind of sexy. It's neat. They have a nice bar there. A good wine selection always makes things a little more romantic when you have a few wines under your belt."
The couple has to be a little bit more creative this time around because Neen Durkin will go to an area hospital on Valentine's Day for left knee replacement surgery.
"I don't think a Valentine's Day celebration in the hospital is what I had in mind," Neen Durkin said. "I think I won't be in the best mood that day. So, we will have to celebrate Valentine's Day a few days ahead."
Wherever they go, the food must be mighty tasty, she said.
"Who wants to go somewhere pretty and then you have to eat garbage?" Neen Durkin said. "Not me."
Hoyle Wagner already knows where he is taking his wife, Mary, for their Valentine's Day dinner - Rivertown Bistro at 1111 Third Ave. in Conway.
"That's Mary's favorite place," he said. "[Executive chef and owner] Darren Smith is just wonderful. The place also has a wonderful atmosphere."
He said they also enjoy Midtown Bistro, at 2004 U.S. 17 S. in North Myrtle Beach, because of the food, ambience and the singing of Mary Wolf, a church secretary at Ocean Drive Presbyterian Church. Wolf, who sings classic standards such as "It Had To Be You." She will perform from 6 to 9 p.m. on Valentine's Day.
"If dim lighting, the fragrance of a magnificent meal, Mary Wolf singing, a good wine and the view of a good-looking woman across the table isn't romantic, then you better leave and go home," Hoyle Wagner said. "That is enough to put you in a romantic mood.