My husband had talked up The Blue Heron so much that when we pulled into the parking lot, 2131 S. Queen St., I was more than a little surprised.

The restaurant didn't look like what I pictured as Jon raved about this amazing French place he discovered. It's tucked beside the South York Diner, attached to a larger building. Blink as you're driving down Queen Street, and you'll miss it.

Almost immediately after entering, all doubt was gone. The little café is painted robin's egg blue, with bright red chairs and crisp white linens on the table. Nearly every one of the few tables was occupied by patrons who were clearly savoring both the entrées and the company. The most amazing smells wafted from the kitchen.

The Blue Heron is perfect for a date night with someone you love or someone you would love to get to know better. Its bright décor and intimate setup encourage visitors to take their time, to look each other in the eye, to brush hands as they sample

appetizers.

But all that conversation might just stop when you taste said starters. Jon and I each chose the soup du jour, which was carrot bisque. Who knew humble carrots could be so divine? If it weren't for the elegance of those around me, I would've mirrored my 7-year-old with the remnants of ice cream and licked the bowl.

For our entrées, I got the vegetable lasagna and Jon ordered seafood a la Provencale, which came as vegetable ratatouille. Seafood is a specialty at the French and Mediterranean restaurant. In fact, the chef makes weekly treks to a fish market in Philadelphia to pick The Blue Heron's famed mussels and other seafood.

I was too in love with my lasagna to try Jon's entrée - pan seared Gulf shrimp, diver scallops, mussels and fish - but he said it was unbelievable.

By the time we chose our desserts and sipped our coffee, the chef came to our table to inquire about our meals. I'm such a sucker for that. This type of detail isn't going to come at one of York's endless, ever-present buffets.

Monday through Thursday, the restaurant offers three courses for $22.95 on its bistro menu. The best part: it comes with the dessert du jour. The standard menu dessert options include crème caramel, chocolate mousse, raspberry tiramisu and apple tarte tatin.

If you go to The Blue Heron on a weekend or choose not to order off the bistro menu, the regular menu's entrées come with the day's vegetable, daily special and dessert. While there was one exceptionally well-behaved child while we were dining, I'll keep the Blue Heron saved for a romantic night out. Of course, several couples at neighboring tables clearly were regulars, on first-name basis with the staff. Lucky ducks.

- Beth Vrabel, for FlipSide

If you go

WHAT: The Blue Heron

WHERE: 2131 S. Queen St., York Township

WHEN: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m. Monday to Saturday. Closed Sundays.

WHAT TO EXPECT: Intimate dining of French and Mediterranean cuisine. Appetizers are priced about $6-$12, entrees range from $14.50 for vegetable lasagna to $29.95 for steak au poivre. Entrees come with homemade dessert. Bring your own wine.

DETAILS: Call 846-1100 or visit www.blue-heron.us.

Keep it going

Looking to extend your night out? Consider these:

Take in a movie

THE SPOT: Fun Time Cinemas, South York Plaza

WHAT IS IT: The theater

features movies still in or just out of circulation at other local cinemas for a fraction of the cost.

WHERE: 217 Pauline Drive, South York

HOURS: Vary depending on showtimes

PRICE: Admission for adults is $2 before 6 p.m. After that, it's $4 for adults, still $2 for children and seniors.

DETAILS: Call 741-5409 or visit funtimecinemas.com.

INSIDER TIP: Sign up for their e-mail club and receive coupons and a free popcorn.

Go antiquing

THE SPOT: Grey Beard Antiques and Collectibles

WHAT IS IT: A four-story Jacobus antique shop. Stop by before heading to your reservation at Blue Heron, but leave yourself plenty of time.

WHERE: 51 N. Main St.

HOURS: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. Sunday

DETAILS: Call 428-9316. 

INSIDER TIP: If you're someone who can't wait for summer yard sales, you'll find vintage kitsch galore. If you're a hardcore antique collector, you'll be just as happy. The store has everything from 1950s diner-era cat clocks to 1850s fine-crafted furniture.

Toast your evening out

THE SPOT: Crimson American Grill

WHAT IS IT: The restaurant and bar opened in Aprril 2010 featuring American fare with a modern twist

WHERE: 1839 S. Queen St., York Township

HOURS: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday,

11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday

DETAILS: Call 793-3605 or go to www.crimsonamericangrill.com.

INSIDER TIP: Beer options range from Miller Lite to Lancaster Strawberry Wheat.

SPECIALY COCKTAILS: The Young Love (Three Olives Vodka, Malibu Coconut Rum, pineapple juice and grenadine) might be the perfect nightcap. But the White Mochatini (Three Olives Triple Espresso Vodka, Godiva White Chocolate and cream) sings as well.