THE BLIND DATE CHALLENGE- Travelogue: Train doesn't quite leave the station

The background

Faithful followers of the bi-weekly Challenger (and Matchmaker knows you're out there, you guilty pleasure seekers!) are already acquainted with Dave, the 26-year old UVA grad student from Seattle. Last November, he went on a date to remember with Sheela, a fourth-year psychology major. Said Dave in reference to the evening, "It had to have been the best blind date ever!"

Both challengers rated each other a 10, and Matchmaker was sure young love would bloom between her two blind date enthusiasts.

Skip ahead six months. Alas, since the date, Sheela and Dave have gone their separate ways. It's not always clear why these things don't work out, but Dave's still single and ready to mingle, and Matchmaker's a firm believer in second chances.

This second chance is Sarah, a fourth-year Foreign Affairs major who spent last year studying in France. Given Dave's passion for traveling and fine foods, the match seemed only natural. But a date like Dave and Sheela's is going to be a tough act to follow...

The date

Sarah and Dave met for dinner at L'etoile on West Main.

Did you do anything out of the ordinary to plan for the date?

Sarah: Nope.

Dave: Ha, I did take a lint remover to my slacks. I suppose that's unusual.

What did you wear?

Sarah: A skirt, a tank top, and a sweater.

Dave: A pair of black slacks with a white long-sleeved shirt. I also had on a pair of black leather shoes.

Were you first or second to arrive?

Dave: First, although she arrived just a few minutes after I did.

What did you do while waiting?

Dave: Looked at the wine list.

Were you nervous or excited?

Sarah: More nervous than excited, but not too nervous.

Dave: I was a bit excited. I had heard from "Cupid" that Sara is finishing up her degree in French, so I figured she'd be well-traveled and that we'd have a lot to talk about since I spent a year abroad.

When did you calm down?

Sarah: Pretty much right away.

Dave: Things were pretty laidback the whole time. We started to talk immediately, so I really didn't think about being nervous.

First impression:

Sarah: That physically, he wasn't the kind of guy I usually go for, and that he seemed a little nervous.

Dave: She's really cute and outgoing!

Would you say this person was your type?

Sarah: Not really.

Dave: At first glance, yes. Both she and I have the same affinity for travel and culture; we really couldn't get off the subject. I thought it was so cool that she got to study in Lyon, France for a year!

At L'etoile

Had you been to the restaurant before?

Sarah: Yes, twice.

Dave: Once, last summer.

Did you order drinks?

Dave: Yes, she had a glass of Syrah, and I had a glass of Sauvignon Blanc (plus a cup of black tea with dessert).

What did you have to eat?

Sarah: I had the lamb; he had the salmon.

How was the food?

Sarah: Yum! Each dish was delicious, and the portion sizes weren't too big.

Dave: The food was excellent. My salmon was cooked perfectly throughout. I could really tell that the chef/owner puts a lot of passion and creativity into his cooking. The presentation and taste were both out of this world!

Did you share meals? Sample each other's dinners?

Sarah: He tried my entree, but I passed on his. He offered, though.

Dave: We shared our appetizer and dessert. For a first course, we ordered seared scallops with grapefruit. For dessert, we shared creme brulé.

How was the service?

Sarah: Attentive but not overbearing

How was the conversation?

Sarah: It was good. No awkward silences, really.

Dave: Pretty good. We talked about how we miss our homes (she's from New York, I'm from Seattle) and why we came to Virginia.

What did you talk about?

Sarah: Europe, our hometowns, food, soccer

Did you have a lot in common?

Sarah: In some respects yes, and in others no.

Dave: The most important item that we had in common was our love for travel and culture. I felt like we could've talked about that endlessly.

What did you find out that was interesting about this person?

Sarah: He knows a lot about food, which I loved, since I love food.

What was your date's best characteristic?

Sarah: He was quite the gentleman. I liked that.

Dave: She has great eyes and a very magnetic and original personality.

What was the most memorable moment of the date?

Dave: The kiss at the end, of course! The spilling of the tea came in a close second (see below).

Was there anything you really disliked?

Sarah: Not that I can think of.

Dave: I was really disappointed that she doesn't like salmon. I come from Seattle, so for me it's a diet staple. But to each her own.

Was there anything about your date that surprised or impressed you?

Sarah: That he's getting a PhD in Physics. Crazy! I liked that he wants to teach in the future.

Dave: I was surprised that she had a sub-par Germany experience. Apparently she went to Berlin with some of her pals, and the city turned out to be not as nice as expected. Also, she's not afraid to remind Red Sox fans about how many championships the Yankees have won.

Was there "chemistry" between you? Interesting body language?

Sarah: Not really.

Dave: I'd definitely say there was some chemistry between us!

Did anything out of the ordinary happen?

Sarah: While we were waiting to be seated, I saw a friend of mine who I didn't know works at the restaurant. It was kind of amusing. I also got a couple of pieces of bone in my mouth later and had to spit them out... oops!

How did dinner end?

Sarah: We had dessert, sat, and talked a little while longer.

Dave: I spilled some tea on my sleeve; luckily we both though it was funny.

Did you decide to go somewhere afterwards?

Sarah: No, I had a paper due the next day that I had to go work on.

Dave: Nope.

What was the VERY end like?

Sarah: We exchanged phone numbers and then parted.

Dave: I wish that the date could have gone on longer. Unfortunately, we both had work we needed to attend to.

Did you walk each other to the car?

Dave: We did!

A hug? A kiss?

Dave: A kiss on each cheek, French-style. I figured she'd like that.

Did you have fun?

Sarah: I did.

Dave: Yes! Sarah rocks. We simply must chill again sometime in the near future.

Did you make plans for a second date?

Dave: We did make plans to hang out again but didn't pick a specific time.

Overall experience?

Sarah: I'm glad I did it, but the jury's still out on how I feel about blind dates. I might or might not do it again.

Dave: I had a lot of fun. She's a really cool girl, and it seems (at first glance) that we have a lot in common.

On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate the date?

Sarah: 7

Dave: 9.5