Ah, Valentine’s Day. The most romantic of holidays, it’s also a day that lots of restaurants look to as a cash cow. Unknowing couples often book a reservation at a fancy restaurant only to be let down by excessive crowds and an underwhelming, overpriced prix fixe menu. But believe it or not, there are some restaurants out there that are doing it right, going above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to their Valentine’s Day menu.
We found 10 restaurants that realize that a Valentine’s Day dinner is about a lot more than a chocolate dessert and a "complimentary glass of champagne."
DBGB Kitchen and Bar
Chef Daniel Boulud knows how to create a quality dining experience, and all of his New York restaurants will be serving up special prix fixe Valentine’s Day dinners. His high-end restaurants, like the flagship Daniel, are serving meals priced at upward of $300 per person, and if that’s your thing, so be it. But the prix fixe that really caught our eye was the one that’s being served at his most casual restaurant, the Bowery’s DBGB Kitchen and Bar. For $60 per person, couples can share a Charcuterie Plate of rillettes de jambonneau, pâté campagnard, fromage de tete, followed by a whole roasted Amish chicken with cauliflower and horseradish gratin, fingerling potato Lyonnaise, and cider jus, and for dessert, a Black Forest baked Alaska filled with vanilla and chocolate ice creams and sour cherry sorbet. The à la carte menu will also be available in the bar area all night long.
One of the city’s most romantic dining rooms, the rustic, venerable Il Buco is pulling out all the stops this year with a five-course meal selling for $140 per person. The menu includes the option of foie gras or cured sturgeon to start, sea urchin risotto and truffle agnolotti are options for primi, for secondi you have an option of lamb two ways or poached turbot, and mascarpone cake and chocolate caramel tart are the dessert options, with some chocolate truffles thrown in for good measure.
Heading across the East River to this sliver of New Orleans romance in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Maison Premiere is offering a $95-per-person four-course prix fixe. The decadent-sounding menu offers chilled bouillabaisse with sea urchin and caviar, lobster custard with sunchoke and chestnut, a choice of Dover sole with chanterelle velouté or pigeon with roots and fruits, and chocolate soufflé for dessert.
This no-frills, classic American bistro in Greenwich Village is offering a very reasonable $55 three-course prix fixe menu. Jane's options include oysters Rockefeller, toasted ricotta gnocchi with white truffle crèma, butternut squash risotto, seared ahi tuna, and for dessert, berries and cream with strawberries, raspberries, and champagne sabayon.
This classic Midtown French restaurant is offering a $65-per-person three-course prix fixe. French food is certainly among the most romantic out there, and the guys at Le Perigord appear to have it down pat. The menu will include lobster bisque, warm foie gras with seasonal fruit, fillet of loup de mer, sole meunière, roasted rack of lamb, traditional beef Bourguignon, and a raspberry soufflé.
La Mar Cebichería Peruana
If you’re looking for a change of pace from classic Valentine’s Day prix fixe fare, Madison Avenue’s La Mar is certainly worth considering. Chef Victoriano Lopez has created a special à la carte menu for the holiday, featuring items like ceviche with Maine lobster, shrimp, and calamari noodles; lomo saltado, a traditional Peruvian stir-fry with fries and rice; and for dessert, the unique-sounding Café Enamorado, a quinoa coffeecake served with hazelnut ice cream.
While we’re on an ethnic food tangent, it’s worth mentioning that Benares, a Tribeca and Midtown Indian restaurant, is also serving up a special Valentine’s Day menu. The restaurant’s offerings are inspired by cuisine from every region of India, so dishes include ones that you might not find elsewhere in the city. The $45-per-person four-course menu certainly carries on this theme, with appetizers including a duck crepe (pantra) and crab Chettinadu, seasoned with garlic, ginger, and coconut; entrées including barrah masaledar (grilled lamb chops) and cheema thenga (jumbo shrimp in a coconut curry sauce); and a selection of Indian sweets for dessert.
If you’re in the mood for a classic Italian Valentine’s Day feast, Patsy’s, the Midtown stalwart that’s been around for 68 years, is doing it the right way. Chef Sal Scognamillo's no-frills $65 prix fixe includes arugula salad with shaved Parmesan cheese and basil vinaigrette, baked clams, chicken fra diavolo, and for dessert, warm chocolate cake served with strawberries, honey, and whipped cream.
This Midtown Russian gem is one of the city’s most ornate and ostentations dining rooms, a solid fit for a holiday meal that calls for a little bit of grandiosity. Their $125 prix fixe at Firebird includes crab papaya cocktail with black caviar and avocado salsa, roasted white sturgeon with lobster mac and cheese, trout caviar and champagne beurre blanc, and for dessert, a chocolate ganache cake for two with vanilla gelato and chocolate truffle hearts.
The Vault at Pfaff’s and Corner Shop Café
This recently opened hideaway has a long history as a drinking and dining destination, and for Valentine’s Day Pfaff's is offering up a romantic way to start or finish the evening. For $75 you can drink champagne and sample some oysters, bay scallops, duck confit rillettes, or other solid starters. After that you can head up to their ground-level restaurant, Corner Shop Café, for a $60 three-course prix fixe that includes shrimp risotto, steak tartare, roasted chicken, tagliatelle, almond cake, and a salted caramel sundae.