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Two on the Town

More fun than couples counseling

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Your man's a card-carrying metrosexual. Your woman could hang with Carrie Bradshaw, downing Cosmopolitans and discussing Manolos. Together, you make a formidable - and feral - social force.

But power coupledom has its drawbacks. Work constantly spills into the weekends. Birthday parties, weddings and do-gooder fundraisers become more obligation than enjoyment. Sure, a getaway sounds fab. But the thought of driving hundreds of miles to a mountain retreat or spending half the weekend at the airport doesn't exactly unclench your stressed neck muscles.

It's time to book an Atlanta play-date for just the two of you.

Saturday is the ideal day to turn Atlanta into your personal fairground. Book a spa treatment and dinner a week or so in advance, and leave the rest of the day for leisurely activities. And switch your cell phones to silent mode.

SATURDAY

10 a.m.: If you're a couple that doesn't mind funky digs, Cafe 458 in the Martin Luther King Jr. Historic District serves some strikingly original fare, like bread pudding French toast and Carolina pulled-pork eggs Benedict with braised greens and Dijon hollandaise. Plus, proceeds from the meal go to Samaritan House of Atlanta's program for feeding the homeless.

If you're in the mind-set for classic brunch, Murphy's offers malted waffles, buttermilk pancakes and a kaleidoscope of egg scrambles and frittatas. Another bonus to Murphy's Saturday brunch: Bloody Mary, perhaps? Nothing beats a bit of vodka to put you in the mood to shop.

11:30 a.m.: The couple that shops together, stays together. The breadth of West Ponce in Decatur has morphed into a lively retail district that provides window-shopping while you walk. Start your trek at Stanton Designs, a high-energy home furnishings store that will get your AmEx drooling. The store carries Oly, one of the sexiest lines of contemporary furniture. At the very least, splurge on an intensely aromatic Ergo candle.

Right up the block, Sole offers snazzy and affordable shoes for men and women. Sole also carries the work of local jewelers like Denise Disharoon.

Decatur's one shopping drawback is its limited selection of men's clothing stores. Guys, if you get impatient watching your woman try on threads at Boogaloo's Boutique, just traipse up the street to Decatur CD.

3 p.m.: Slip through the hustle of Key Lime Pie's salon into the exposed-brick oasis of its day spa. Traditional spa services are delivered with pampering twists: Swedish and deep-tissue massage can be combined with a refreshing, full-body vichy shower (a multiheaded "rain bar" that feels like a cross between a shower and acupressure). Manicures and pedicures include a sea-salt polish for arms and legs.

NeemTree Spa on the west side offers an even more intimate experience. The loft space is a soothingly dim haven filled with translucent curtains and spicy scents. Asha, the owner, is trained in ancient Ayurvedic techniques that she incorporates into her unique menu of services. Even if you book a one-hour massage or body wrap, Gomez suggests scheduling two hours sequestered in her care. (NeemTree books a maximum of three people at a time.) Often, she serves a light South Indian meal after your treatment. Don't fill up too much, though. Suppertime's approaching.

8 p.m.: For glorious hip factor combined with astoundingly satisfying food, the hot ticket is Rathbun's in Inman Park. Kevin Rathbun has gathered a career's worth of his best recipes - with a few new creations to boot - on a menu that celebrates American cuisine in all its regional glory. Try to snag a plush corner booth, the ideal vantage point to survey the industrial-edged dining room.

Nibble from small plates like mussels on sour bread toast, or go full-caloric-throttle on "second mortgage" offerings like grilled rib eye with blue cheese and bacon vinaigrette. Kirk Park's witty platter of mini-desserts completes the evening with panache.

If a quiet tête--tête seems more appropriate, drive the short distance to College Park and dine at Oscar's. Owner Oscar Morales has created a posh yet welcoming space, complete with an evocative orange and white Coca-Cola advertisement found during renovation.

Chef Todd Immel has a light, intelligent touch with seasonal fish and vegetables - and he's no slouch in the sweets department, either.

11 p.m.: Not quite ready to call it a night? Ascend the pink marble staircase at the Four Seasons Hotel for a nightcap in the tony Park 75 Lounge and Terrace.

Sunday morning: Enjoy a late snooze with your paramour. Your cell phone messages can wait.

JUST THE FACTS

Boogaloo's boutique 246 W. Ponce de Leon Ave., Decatur. 404-373-3237. www.boogaloosboutique.com.

Cafe 458 458 Edgewood Ave. 404-523-1239. www.cafe458.com.

Decatur CD 356 W. Ponce de Leon Ave., Decatur. 404-371-9090. www.decaturcd.com.

Key Lime Pie 806 N. Highland Ave. 404-873-6512. www.keylimepie.net.

Murphy's 997 Virginia Ave. 404-872-0904. www.murphysvh.com.

NeemTree Spa 1016 Howell Mill Road, Suite 3206. 404-881-6800. www.neemtreespa.com.

Oscar's 3725 Main St., College Park. 404-766-9688. www.oscarsatl.com.

Park 75 Lounge and Terrace 75 14th St. 404-881-9898. www.fourseasons.com/atlanta.

Rathbun's 112 Krog St., Suite R. 404-524-8280. www.rathbunsrestaurant.com.

Sole 419 W. Ponce de Leon Ave., Decatur. 404-377-9006. www.soleatlanta.com.

Stanton Designs 431 W. Ponce de Leon Ave., Suite 1., Decatur. 404-371-1991. www.stantondesigns.com.

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