Valentine’s Day in the Nation’s Capital

Where to enjoy the holiday dinner in Washington, D.C.

It’s that time of year again: Valentine’s Day, when husbands and boyfriends scramble to make reservations and singles avoid being seen in public after 7 p.m. In the hopes of helping alleviate this stress, we’ve done some legwork for you all. Below is a list of some of our favorite restaurants in Washington, D.C. and their Valentine’s Day offerings. We’ve left out those restaurants that are written up in all the "Top 10" restaurants in D.C. roundups because you know what they are and you may be too late to get reservations there anyway. The truth hurts.

Our list includes a little something for everyone: high-end and affordable, lively and intimate, casual and fancy, and the expected and unexpected. We’ve even located an option for those without a plus-one this year. That’s right; singles need not hide in their condos with the lights off and a pint of Ben and Jerry’s on Valentine’s Day. (That’s what everyone does, right?)

Bibiana offers excellent service and Italian food in an intimate dining room. For $85 per person, diners can choose one dish from each course:
Antipasti: Yellow fin tuna carpaccio, Salt-roasted heirloom beets salad, Artichoke soup, Beef tartare, 45 minute hen egg with mushroom purée and black truffle, Grilled octopus
Primi:  Lobster linguini ($5 supplement), Black spaghetti with jumbo lump crab "aglio, olio e pepperoncino," Carnaroli risotto with white chocolate and crispy sweetbread, Braised beef filled cannelloni, Parpardelle with duck ragù, Ravioli filled with cacio romano, marjoram, and tomato
Secondi:  Poached branzino with fennel, blood orange, and dill, Roasted scallops with salsify purée and brown butter, Baked Amberjack with potatoes, Grilled cauliflower "steak" with potato mousseline and black truffle, Braised veal cheeks, white polenta and roasted parsnips, Roasted lamb loin, heirloom carrots, and cipollini onions
Dolci:  Tasting dessert for two, Cheese plate, Tiramisu gelato, Moscato d’asti sorbet.

Bourbon Steak
If it’s good enough for the president and first lady’s anniversary dinner, it’s good enough for you. While the bar at Bourbon is always lively and full of great people-watching opportunities, the dining room is intimate and quiet. At $95 per person, the Valentine's Day menu is the most expensive on this list. The lobster pot pie is an additional $40, but it is sure to put any woman in a good mood. Keep in mind that the à la carte menu will not be available. Instead, diners can choose one dish from each the following:
First course: Ahi tuna tartare, Handmade spaghettini guanciale with poached egg, Winter market salad with fried Brussels sprout leaves, Wild mushroom barley soup with braised Wagyu short rib
Second course:  Seared diver scallops with potato samosa, Duck breast l’orange with seared foie gras, Beef tenderloin with black truffle gnocchi, Lobster pot pie ($40 supplement)
Third course: Chocolate Pavlova, Peanut butter soufflé tart, Crunchy profiteroles, Mandarin orange sherbet and olive oil cake

Ris is offering its Valentine's Day tasting menu from Feb. 14 to 17 and is another great option for those in the mood for a quiet, intimate dinner. For $80, diners can select one dish from each course below:
First course: Miso salmon tartare and cucumber yuzu slaw, Sea scallop and winter squash risotto
Second course:  Kabocha squash and ricotta ravioli, Endive, apple, and blue cheese salad
Third course: Honey-glazed duck breast with rye spaetzle, sauerkraut, and duck confit, Grilled quail, hominy grits, and bourbon cherry sauce
Fourth course: Braised veal cheek, risotto Milanese, Braised lamb neck, carrot cream with pomegranate, pine nuts, and yogurt
Dessert: Champagne and grapefruit parfait with oatmeal hazelnut crisps and citrus caramel, Warm chocolate bread pudding
Ris will also offer its usual à la carte menu, which will include some additional dishes just for Valentine's Day such as Oysters on the half-shell, lobster champagne risotto, braised beef short ribs, and Nutella and banana crepes with chocolate cream.

Ardeo + Bardeo
At $65 per person, Ardeo’s menu is a steal. The restaurant has a sultry vibe and a more relaxed atmosphere than the above options. Each diner receives the first and last courses plus one dish from the second and third course options:
First course: Amuse of lobster, brioche, and caviar
Second course: Spinach salad with crisp gnocchi, Rutabaga and apple soup, Baby red and golden beets, Shenandoah lamb belly, Rock shrimp risotto, Salt-cured foie gras
Third course: Duo of beef (rib-eye and Waygu beef), Seven-hour braised suckling pig,  Pan-roasted duck breast, Potato and black truffle agnolotti, Olive oil poached swordfish with chickpeas, chorizo, and lobster emulsion, Halibut with red bliss potatoes and sea beans
Dessert:  Yogurt pistachio crunch

We love the minimalist décor at Ripple. We also like that there’s just enough buzz in the dining room so we don’t have to use our library voice to avoid being overheard at the next table. For $75, each diner can enjoy a selection from each of the following:
First Course:  Sunchoke soup, Kale with Lynnhaven oysters
Second Course:  Caramelized pork belly, Roasted scallops
Third Course:  Fluke and shrimp, Pheasant and its egg, Smoked venison and crispy pig ear
Fourth Course:  Lavender éclairs, Frozen chocolate parfait with roasted white chocolate, hazelnut streusel
To top off the meal, there's a little something extra (shh, Ripple says it’s a surprise).

Bar Pilar
Bar Pilar is a good choice any day of the week, but we were especially taken by their “"Wined and Dined" Valentine’s Day event. This year, singles and couples can find a home at Bar Pilar. For couples, the upstairs dining room is cozy with a relaxed vibe and will serve both a three-course ($43) and four-course ($48) dinner.
First Course:  Baked oysters with champagne cream, Seared foie gras with cherry port reduction and buttered brioche
Second Course:  Wild mushroom soup with crispy pancetta, Rockfish, cauliflower purée
Third Course:  Seared scallops with lentils, black trumpet mushrooms, Seared tenderloin medallions, foie gras mashed potatoes
Fourth course:  House-made Oreos with cold milk
Optional cheese supplement ($8): Heart-shaped goat cheese with raspberries
Downstairs, singles can enjoy the usual à la carte menu and the "Anti-Valentine’s Day Cocktail Menu," featuring $10 appropriately-named cocktails such as:
(Wo)man on the Side: Brandy, housemade triple sec, and lemon juice
The Whisper of Bitter Nothings: Rye whiskey, cider tonic, and fernet foam
Hemingway’s Ex-Wife: Rum, ginger beer, lime juice, and cherry bitters
The first 100 people to order an Anti-Valentine’s Day cocktail will receive a "Break-Up Fortune Cookie" with a popular break-up one liner inside. Sweet!

Cork Tasting Room
For those who want to celebrate early, Cork is offering their once-a-month, Sunday champagne and fried chicken dinner on Feb. 10 at 6 p.m. for $75 (plus tax and gratuity) per couple. The meal includes a seasonal vegetable, biscuits, fruit crostata, and two glasses of sparkling rosé (in honor of Valentine’s Day). Space is limited so Cork is asking folks to RSVP by Feb. 8. On Valentine’s Day, Cork will host its Third Annual Champagne Tasting for $75 per person.  The menu includes six champagnes paired with six small plates from chef Kristen Hutter and a "sweet treat." The six small plates have not been revealed yet but will be consistent with Cork’s focus on local ingredients.

The Pig
If you knew that your boyfriend or girlfriend was the one because he or she loves pork just as much as you do, then The Pig could be the right place to spend your Valentine’s Day. For Valentine’s Day, The Pig is offering a four-course dinner for $42 per person ($62 with wine pairings) that offers the following delectable selections:
First Course:  Crispy pig ear salad with marrow vinaigrette, Beef heart tartare, duck egg, and chips, Lobster chowder and buttermilk biscuit, Oysters and smoked bone marrow for two
Second Course: Wild boar ragù over pappardelle, Blood cakes, fried egg, and marinated anchovies, Cornmeal crusted fried oysters and creamed chard, Spaghetti all’Amatriciana for two with house bacon
Third Course:  Andouille and clams over grits, Venison Wellington with parsnips and mushrooms, Pork cheek over grits, Cold smoked and grilled double pork chop for two with mustard gratin, chanterelles, haricot vert
Fourth Course:  Grand Marnier milkshake with chocolate cookies, Sticky toffee pudding with spiced bourbon cream, Chocolate pot de crème, pretzel crunch, and ginger whipped cream

Bistro La Bonne
If you’re looking for a little French charm with a casual and lively vibe, then Bistro La Bonne is the place for you. While the restaurant is not offering a tasting menu, it’s put together a special à la carte "Saint-Valentin" menu to go along with its usual dinner menu.  In addition, at the end of the meal, couples will receive two complimentary glasses of Banfi Dolce sparkling red wine and heart macarons. 
Asparagus soup ($9.50)
Wild mushroom and goat cheese strudel with balsamic glaze ($9.50)
Crab tart with mixed greens ($10.95)
Duo of duck and chicken liver parfait with toasted brioche ($10.50)
Main Course
Surf and Turf: grilled beef fillet with lobster and asparagus risotto ($28.95)
Duo of seared scallops and jumbo shrimp, jasmine rice, lobster sauce ($25.95)
Roasted duck breast with sweet potato purée and brandy sauce ($22.95)
Herb crusted lamb chop with potato duchesne and rosemary demi-glace ($26.95)
Valentine’s Delice ($9.95)

Al Dente
If you’re looking for a less pricey, high-quality Italian meal, spend your Valentine’s Day with Roberto Donna at his charming trattoria. Al Dente will not be offering their à la carte menu and will serve pizza at the bar only. However, for $45 (additional $25 for wine pairings) per person, the Valentine’s Day dinner is a steal given the culinary credentials of chef Donna. Diners will all receive a first course (bufala mozzarella with caviar dressing and arugula) and bugie (ribbons of sweet dough) at the end of the meal. In addition, each person will have several options to choose from for their second, third, and dessert courses:
Second Course: Roasted Maine lobster and black ink fettuccine in spicy pizzaiola sauce, Farro tagliatelle with smoked salmon and oysters in a chive sauce, Capellacci filled with fonduta, butter, sage, and sliced black winter truffles
Third Course: Sautéed sea scallops with pesto trapenese, eggplant purée, and fried cauliflower, Veal fillet sautéed with vin santo, foie gras, spinach with raisins and pine nuts, Roasted rack of lamb in barbaresco wine with chick peas and cipollini onions
Dessert: Tiramisu with hot chocolate sauce, caramelized hazelnut, Warm chocolate sour cherry cake with chocolate gelato, Fresh raspberries in zabaglione sauce
The restaurant will also be serving up special cocktails like Noci Innamorate (chocolate, Kahlua, Baileys) and Nocello Bacio Rosa (a Bellini with a twist, raspberry, and pomegranate juice). 

If Japanese cuisine is your thing, SEI’s special V-Day menu is appealing. For $75, each diner can enjoy the following:
Amuse: Tuna tartare with brioche, seaweed butter, and pickles
First Course: Choice of: raw oyster with raspberry ponzu, Kobe tataki, Lobster bisque with lobster dumplings and red curry
Intermezzo: Lemon custard and berry gelée parfait
Entrée: Choice of: Sushi trio (three-piece specialty roll, five pieces nigiri, five pieces sashimi), Braised bone-in short ribs with potato purée and chocolate miso demi, Lobster with ginger butter and lemon chile
Dessert: SEI chocolate torte

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