It’s a long-standing Valentine’s Day tradition to celebrate love with food. For restaurants, it’s one of the busiest days of the year, and Seattle’s fine dining establishments pull out all the stops to tempt the Emerald City’s finicky diners. Lowering the lights and cranking up the ambiance with candlelight, flowers, and music, restaurants are offering seemingly endless prix fixe menus, rich with seafood delicacies and aphrodisiac ingredients. These 10 outstanding local hot spots truly make an art form out of blending gastronomy and romance.
Chef Chris Weber’s love-themed "Menu for Two Hearts," available Feb. 14 to 17, features nine courses with six wine pairings from The Herbfarm’s award-winning cellars starting at $205 per head, served over four and a half unhurried hours and accompanied by the passionate strains of virtuoso Patricio Contreras’ Spanish guitar. Known for ultra-fresh local ingredients, this Woodinville gem usually finalizes its menu just before the event, but diners can expect bubbly and truffles, as well as a taste of an aphrodisiac such as sea holly (Eryngium maritimum) along the way.
Between the spectacular views over Lake Union and the exquisite artistry of each dish (and the sight of your darling’s face, of course), you won’t know where to rest your eyes during a Valentine’s meal at Canlis. Executive chef Jason Franey offers an elegant five-course set menu for vegetarians at $95, featuring cannelloni with carrots, cumin, and parsnip, and another at $125 for carnivorous types, with juicy beef tenderloin and Pacific king salmon seasoned with fennel, saffron, and dill.
At Tilth, Maria Hines’ temple to organic cuisine in the North Seattle neighborhood of Wallingford, adventurous food lovers will swoon over the $85-per-person four-course prix fixe menu. From seared Alaskan sablefish to smoked heirloom bean cassoulet with foraged mushrooms to a Trampetti olive oil cake with fennel ice cream, the restaurant serves up rich, creative taste combinations — as well as a thematically appropriate grilled beef heart tartlet.
For an elegant ambiance, outstanding wine, and delicious Vietnamese dishes with a distinctive Pacific Northwest flair, Monsoon’s Seattle location in the Capitol Hill neighborhood and Monsoon East in Old Bellevue make excellent Valentine’s Day choices. The four-course prix fixe menu starting at $60 per person offers numerous meat and seafood selections such as Virginica and Shigoku oysters and a lobster bisque congee with hon shimeji mushrooms and truffle oil. For dessert, get lucky in love with "double happiness dumplings" with red bean, mung bean, and ginger honey soup.
The Harvest Vine
Known for the hearty flavors and refined presentation of its Basque cuisine, The Harvest Vine in Madison Valley serves up an intense five-course prix fixe for $65 per person. Starting with Basque tapas and featuring courses at once traditional and innovative, such as Tolosa bean soup with smoky sheep’s milk cream and seared scallops with foie gras, leeks, and a blood orange reduction, the feast finally winds down with a decadent duo of chocolates for two.
Chef and owner John Sundstrom surpasses himself with the incredibly indulgent selections on Lark’s $90-per-head prix fixe menu. For the first course alone, diners can choose from raw Kushi oysters; a salad of Cara Cara oranges, beets, and watercress; Pleasant View Farm foie gras; and blue king crab with Meyer lemon butter — and the other courses look just as mouthwatering. With surprising flavor combinations, top-notch ingredients, and great vegetarian options, Valentine’s dinner at this intimate little restaurant at 12th Avenue and East Spring Street promises to become an unforgettable culinary experience.
This exquisite restaurant at Pike Place Market delivers the quintessential French dining experience. With panoramic views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains and live music by classical guitarist Charlie Solbrig, Maximilien woos customers with an intoxicatingly romantic ambiance. Then there’s the $89-per-person five-course "Menu des Amoureux" (with the obligatory trou normand) featuring Chilean sea bass and flat iron steak served with truffle fries. Chef Christian Potvin has also created two three-course menus (the Lover’s Menu "Gourmand" at $45 and "Découverte" at $55), available on Feb. 8 and 9 and Feb. 15 and 16.
For quiet, sophisticated dining and classic cuisine, splurge for the $115-per-person set menu at The Georgian in The Fairmont Olympic Hotel downtown. Executive chef Gavin Stephenson is preparing love-themed dishes such as his "Heart-shaped Icicle for Two" — a concoction of "massive prawns" and "deconstructed cocktail sauce" — and the "Thousand Flower Honey Chocolate Heart" for dessert, as well as rich entrées like black trumpet mushroom ravioli and roasted beef tenderloin. Patrons can dine or dance to the dulcet sounds of the Emmanuel del Casal Trio. Valet parking is included.
The Backdoor at Roxy's
If speakeasies are more your speed, The Backdoor at Roxy’s has you covered with its "Taste the Music" event. For $150 per couple, this swanky hidden Fremont gem will serve up a five-course dinner courtesy of chef Andrew Coker while plying you with heady cocktails by mixologist extraordinaire Jayson Cottam and getting your toes tapping with musical "pairings" by acclaimed musician Eric Fridrich. (At 11 p.m., however, the lounge will transform into a dance club for happy singletons, with a DJ, free snacks, and cocktail specials.)
Wedding the concept of the Indian "thali" with modern Northwest cuisine, Jerry Traunfeld’s Poppy famously puts a tasting menu of tiny, delectable dishes on a single platter. For Valentine’s Day, this Capitol Hill restaurant will serve a special three-course menu with thalis for two at $50 per person. The dazzling selection of dishes features bold yet well-balanced taste combinations, notably combining sweet and savory in dishes such as an oxtail terrine with a pear salad, or a mushroom-crusted paneer with spiced nettles and apples.