Cheap dates

New York Chinese Scholar's Garden

New York Chinese Scholar's Garden

No matter what you think about Staten Island, boat rides are rife with romantic possibility, so hop on the free ferry to the New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden (1000 Richmond Terr at Independence Ave, Staten Island, 718-273-8200; S40 bus to Snug Harbor Rd; $5). At the garden, balance yin with yang while taking in the meditative views. “There is no time that the Chinese Garden is not beautiful,” says executive director Rona Cusick. “But it’s especially romantic in the evening.” Linger a little longer to explore the contemporary art galleries and maritime history at the Snug Harbor Cultural Center (1000 Richmond Terr at Independence Ave, 718-448-2500). Before heading back home to play teacher’s pet, swing by R.H. Tugs (1115 Richmond Terr at Snug Harbor Rd, 718-447-6369), just steps from the garden’s grounds, for a hearty menu of Continental, regional surf-and-turf favorites. Steak ($24.95) and crab cakes ($18) may not be at fast-food prices, but the romantic harbor views will fuel your after-hours extracurricular activities.


Crafty gal seeks naïve outsider. Or, if you’ve already found your match, head over to the American Folk Art Museum (45 W 53rd St between Fifth and Sixth Aves, 212-265-1040) for Free Music Fridays from 5:30–7:30pm. While the music is a little country—you’ll hear strains of banjos, fiddles and a variety of folk balladry—the atmosphere is homespun without being hokey, and the galleries are open free of charge. Keep the homey vibe burning and head to romantic French-American bistro La Bonne Soupe (48 W 55th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves, 212-586-7650). The name means “the good life,” and indeed it is. Request a seat on the outdoor balcony upstairs, or settle in at any of the gingham-covered tables and dig into authentic comfort food. Try the savory or sweet crêpes served with salad ($12.95) or cross skewers mid-dip while sharing a fondue built for two ($21.95). Bon!—ML