Cafe muranoLast week we had one of those ‘pleasantly surprised’ sort of date nights when we headed to Cranes Roost in Uptown Altamonte for dinner.

I’ve walked by Café Murano, the area’s only “lake” view eatery, at least 50 times since it opened a few years ago. But sadly for me, we’ve never taken the plunge and given it a test drive.

Friday’s experience was fantastic: the service was stellar, the food (Italian) was delish, and the 2 for 1 happy hour drinks until 7 pm set the evening on a cheery course. Café Murano officially gets my date night seal of approval. UPDATE: Happy hour has changed in 2014. It is now Mon – Fri  4-7pm and features half off drinks by the glass.

After our al fresco meal on the restaurant’s lake view patio, we wandered over to the Eddie Rose Amphitheater where a live band was playing rock ‘n’ roll covers for the crowd nestled into the seating overlooking the water.

Friday Night Live, as Uptown Altamonte has named the series, features a free live concert most Friday nights from 7pm – 9pm or 8pm – 10pm. We stuck around and listened to the tunes and then slowly strolled along the 1-mile path that encircles the water. The series often takes a hiatus in the summer.

If your budget is tight, you can opt to scrap the dinner at Cafe Murano and the rest of the evening—live music and lakeside stroll—is completely free! Not a bad date night for zero $$.