If there was a night I’d like to stay in and cook with my imaginary sweetheart, VALENTINE’S DAY would be it. But since there are a bunch of folks out there who insist on dining out on THE DAY, here are a few menus that caught my eye at places I’d consider appropriate for the occasion. Truth be told, every restaurant in town is doing something that night.
Loretta Keller and Michael Morrison of ~COCO500~ have this special V-Day tasting menu lined up: chilled oysters and spicy grilled sausage, or hearts of palm salad, pistachio, chèvre, medjool dates; farm egg raviolo, black truffle, parmesan, or potato gnocchi, Cape Cod scallops, tatsoi, Meyer lemon; grilled New York strip, cauliflower leek spoonbread, mustard greens, or roasted sea bass, artichoke, porcini mushroom hollandaise; and bittersweet chocolate and coffee vacherin, or tropical fruit triptych. $85, wine pairing additional $40.
~ABSINTHE BRASSERIE & BAR~ will offer a three-course, American-influenced French brasserie dinner. Your choices will include Sonoma foie gras torchon with Asian pears, citrus confit, pistachio butter, and brioche; pan-roasted ivory salmon with butter beans, Brussels sprouts, and blood orange-black mussel broth; and vanilla cheesecake with hibiscus meringue, rooibos tea, pistachio crumble, and olive oil cake. $68 excluding tax and gratuity, wine pairings menu additional $39.
Relative newcomer ~AQ~ is giving you a choice of ordering from a limited à la carte menu, or their prix-fixe Love & Passion tasting menu with dishes like lobster and sea urchin with radish braised with apple juice and preserved pink pepper; pumpkin swordfish crusted with seeds, sweet potato, and ginger; rabbit roasted with laurel leaves with herbed cereals and walnuts with salsify; and rib-eye aged on the bone smoked in hay, root beer, fennel, and parsnip. Vegetarian tasting menu available upon request. $65 excluding tax and gratuity.
~FOREIGN CINEMA~’s four-course Valentine’s Day prix-fixe will have options available for the second, third, and dessert courses, and includes a glass of Champagne. Plus they’ll have music (6:30pm-10pm) by the Gaucho Gypsy Jazz Band. $105 excluding tax and gratuity.
East Bay diners and those on a budget, ~AJANTA~ in Berkeley is serving their regular à la carte menu, or choose their three-course chef’s tasting menu ($25) with a choice of three appetizers and four main courses including chicken, lamb, or seafood. It all comes with a vegetable, rice, onion naan, chutneys, pickles, yogurt raita, and dessert. A vegetarian prix-fixe option is also available ($22).
One more tip: there are a bunch of openings on OpenTable—take a look and see what comes up (Ideale in North Beach had tables open—Florio on Fillmore does too, and cute little South Park Café). And remember, if you have your heart set on a place, it’s always a good policy to call the restaurant and see if you can get a table.
Update: One more V-Day option: catch Dinner and a Flick with graffEats, Noise Pop, and the Disposable Film Festival for a five-course meal featuring “covers” of dishes from the Bay Area’s best chefs, plus three drink pairings, pre-dinner cocktail hour, and BYOB with no corkage. $85 suggested donation; 21+. 7pm. 34 Page St. at Franklin.
Valentine’s Day shortbread cookies by Batter Bakery; photo from website.
Tuesday Feb 14, 2012