Date Night: Keeping it fun

After hearing some promising feedback on Gallery 121, (including Dan Kane’s feature on holiday cocktails in the December issue), I grabbed my hot date and ventured out to Massillon, in search of a relaxing evening of fun.

Start the night here:

After hearing some promising feedback on Gallery 121, (including Dan Kane’s feature on holiday cocktails in the December issue), I grabbed my hot date and ventured out to Massillon, in search of a relaxing evening of fun.

By night’s end, we agreed that Gallery 121 (121 Lincoln Way W) might be the perfect place for date night. Fittingly, on our visit, we spotted a couple who obviously were meeting up for the first time—so, naturally, we gawked, giggled and reminisced about our own first date. But I digress.

date_121bWith walls decorated by the works of local artists and photographers, Gallery 121 is in fact an art gallery, but moonlights as a bar (with killer cocktails), a great spot for light, date-appropriate tapas-style appetizers, a live music venue and an event space. It has a relaxed, casual vibe;friendly, on-the-ball women running the bar; and a variety of seating options, from comfy, overstuffed couches, to high- and low-top tables for large groups and couples alike.

From our seats at the bar, we oohed and ahhed at the craft cocktail list, which is centered around a collection of OYO vodkas, a Columbus-based distillery. With the help of our bartender, I landed on the Vanilla Bean Sidecar, made with honey vanilla bean vodka, Cointreau Noir, fresh lemon juice and a rim of raw sugar. This delightfully simple drink was unique and absolutely tasty, and fits the bill if you’re looking for a not-too-sweet but not-too-strong creative cocktail.

The menu is a collection of down-to-earth, nonfussy small plates. It offers an array of Bonici (thin Italian flatbreads) with thoughtfully combined toppings and ingredients. A nicely appointed “Charcuterie Slate” for vino lovers is available, as well a handful of salads and wraps for the lunch crowd. For casual munching, the Grecian Sampler delivers an eclectic variety of dips including, spicy feta, olive tapenade, hummus, baba ghanoush and tabouli, served with a stack of salty and crisp baked pita chips. This platter would work beautifully for a group, but between the two of us, we managed to polish off most of it.

date_121aOur appetite left room for only one flatbread, the Lobster Bonici. Ultra-thin flatbread is topped with a garlic-herb spread, chunks of lobster, a blend of three cheeses, then finished with diced tomatoes and chives for a bit of freshness. Decadent and delicious, this is truly a perfect, easy-to-eat indulgence for date night that won’t leave you feeling overly full afterward.

Amid all the eating and drinking, there’s live music too. On a Thursday, you might catch the sounds of Pat Masalko and Max Byers, a duo of talented musicians playing an acoustic jam session, often in an open-mic format. Or, if you’re there on a weekend, you’re bound to hear some blues, jazz, cover bands—lots of local acts. Check out Gallery 121’s Facebook page for the lineup.

Keep the night going:

We recommend Gallery 121 for the duration of your date, without hesitation. But, if your rendezvous calls for multiple stops, here are a few other Massillon destinations to consider:
• Massillon Museum: When fabulous food, drink and music aren’t enough, embrace the art theme and start your date at the Massillon Museum at 121 Lincoln Way E (open Tuesday to Sunday till 5 p.m.), for an extra dose of history and culture. Check out MassMu’s website for art-inspired classes, such as Couples’ Clay—a special Valentine’s Day pottery workshop for you and your “plus one.”

• Kozmo’s Grille: I love the tapas-style munchies at Gallery 121 in lieu of a full meal, but if you prefer to impress your date with dinner, then Kozmo’s is your spot. At 37 1st Street SW, Kozmo’s serves outstanding eats (steaks, seafood, stone-hearth pizzas—and be sure to try the sweet corn cake), killer atmosphere and creative martinis.

• Lions Lincoln Theatre: You can’t miss the bright lights of the theater’s digital marquee as you drive down Lincoln Way into downtown Massillon at night. This historic theater, at 156 Lincoln Way E and loaded with architectural detail, is celebrating its 100-year anniversary. Check the website and Facebook page for the lineup of concerts and classic films.

• 2nd Saturday Massillon: Explore downtown Massillon at its busiest on the second Saturday of each month. Local business owners are opening their doors in a big way by offering live music, special entertainment, drink specials and other perks, such as free valet parking in front of Chit Chat Café and Gallery 121.