There have been any times a friend of mine has had a first date set on their calendar, but can't decide where to go out to dinner.  Of course there are many factors that are taken into account for a first date.  While it's important for the food to be great tasting, service is a huge variable as well as the environment you are seated in.  You don't want to be on a first date in the middle of chaos and noise.  Trying to make conversation and getting to know someone when you can't hear the other person isn't very condusive.

On a grading scale, I would say the food quality and service would have to be at the top, but I think other variables to consider are the environment.  A noisy restaurant can be fustrating, but you also want a cozy, intimate setting.  Something else to consider is proximity.  If you are just starting to get to know someone, the last thing you want to do is have ackward silence in a lengthy car ride.  Dinner is a nice way to break-up silence, but sitting in a car and finding topics to talk about can be difficult at times.

After asking our listeners what restaurants are good spots to go to on a first date, I came up with a few suggestions if you are planning to go out to dinner this weekend.  There were many hometown places mentioned.  However, since they are located in smaller towns, they didn't receive many votes probably because not many people had ever heard of them.

5th place, Cheesecake Factory -- Colonie Center, Wolf Rd., in Colonie.  While known for their tremendously delicious cheesecake, The Cheesecake Factory has over 800 options on their menu.  It is also quite convenient if you are planning on doing dinner and movie for your first date.

4th place, Red Lobster, Wolf Road in Colonie.  This was a favorite amongst our listeners and while the name might make you think they only serve seafood, Red Lobster also has other menu items.  I think a seafood specialty restaurant would be most appreciated, though, by someone who really likes seafood (might want to inquire first).  It probably would be disasterous if one of you can't even stand the aroma of seafood.



3rd place, The Outback Steakhouse, Wolf Road in Colonie.  Again, look at the name of this restuarant and consider the other person's taste for food while at the same time not letting the name deter you.  The Outback has a great selection of seafood and chicken entrees.  If you are a beef fan, you also have many options when it comes to piece of meat.  Also, some good tasting and fun drink items on the menu.  I recommend the Wallaby Darned if you like Peach Schnapps.

2nd place, Olive Garden.  Italian food always seems to be homerun no matter what someone's taste buds say.  How can you not like endless salad and breadsticks to kick-off a dinner for two.  Not much inquiry needed when choosing the Olive Garden since they have vegetarian pasta offered.  Also, conveniently placed on Wolf Road or if you're from the North, there is one in Queensbury.

The Big Winner, 1st place -- Carrabba's Italian Grill.  This restaurant is located in Latham, just off the Northway, exit 6.  Great accesibility even if you don't live in Latham.  I've personally been to Carrabba's and while I'm an Italian food junky, they are by far one of my personal favorites.  They have nice bar in case there is a bit of wait; terrific wine list; and many options regardless if you like fish, chicken or steak.

One last thing to consider -- in case the date is a bit of a snoozer, the last thing you want is to get stuck somewhere with the service is slow on purpose.  Some of the high-scale restaurants want you to take your time and embrace the setting.  However, if the date isn't going well, you won't be glancing at your watch as much if dinner lasts an hour versus two.  Something to consider on a first date.