Each year, Valentine’s Day is met with equal amounts of dread and amorous anticipation by singles and couples everywhere. In our nation’s capital, the choice of where to go, what to eat, and what to give ranges from romantic nights at elegant, boutique hotels, to six-course tasting menus in gourmet Italian restaurants, to exclusive gifts at luxury goods stores.
Sometimes, the most romantic thing to do is slip away to a love nest that’s right in your own backyard, and for that kind of celebration, we recommend a stay at a fancy hotel that offers pampering amenities and spa treatments.
This list is for those who want to, and can afford to, make every effort to impress. It is not long, but we have chosen with care. Please note that reservations are required and prices do not include tax or gratuity. We recommend you check on the menu offerings before you make your reservations, as they are subject to change.
This is one of those restaurants where you can share an intimate meal by the fireplace and enjoy your conversation without too much noise from other couples, who are there to do the same thing. Executive chef Samuel Kim has created a six-course tasting menu that features flavorful dishes designed to evoke the flavors of love, as in the Champagne-infused potato bavarois with duck egg and American sturgeon caviar; red snapper with littleneck clams; or profiteroles with Stumptown coffee ice cream, dulce de leche, and Valrhona chocolate. The prix fixe menu is $105 per person or $150 with wine pairings on Valentine’s Day. In addition, the restaurant will serve its seasonal a la carte dinner menu throughout the evening.
Fiola da Fabio Trabocchi
In Italy, romance is as natural and passionately expressed as appreciation for delicious food, so it’s only natural to consider un piccolo divertimento from a great Italian chef on cupid’s big night. This is why you should dine at Fiola and enjoy elevated rustic Italian cuisine perfectly calculated to seduce the senses. The chef has created a five-course menu worth spending your hard-earned money on. The meal begins with fresh oysters on the half shell with Osetra caviar and Champagne, and yes, there is Maine lobster and wagyu beef, all for $125 per person, and the option of a wine pairing for an additional $80. Had she been born Italian, Virginia Woolf probably would have said, “Uno non può pensare bene, amare bene, dormire bene, se non ha mangiato bene.” But instead, she said it this way: “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one hasn’t eaten well.”
The Jefferson Hotel, Richmond, Virginia
Sometimes getting out town, even if it’s a reasonable drive away, can be rejuvenating, especially if you stay in the lap of luxury and true Southern Hospitality. And The Jefferson Hotel’s Valentine’s Day Package can help you experience both. It’s only a two-hour drive from D.C. (or three on the train), is Richmond’s only five-star, five-diamond hotel, and is a French Beaux-Arts gem. The staff are attentive, and in-house restaurant Lemaire serves delicious food (be sure to sample the locally sourced fried oysters) and cocktails (love the Old Fashioned they make in the bar), and the rooms are everything you expect in a well-appointed hotel. The whirlpool tubs are large enough for two, but most importantly, the beds are wonderfully plush and seem to draw you to their silky smooth sheets. The hotel’s package, for a superior room at $335 per night, includes one dozen red roses, a traditional Southern breakfast for two in Lemaire, as well as your breakfast gratuity, and valet parking. This is a fab food city with plenty of dining options and our 5 Bites of Richmond is a good place to start.
The Jefferson Hotel, Washington, D.C.
Take your sweetie to The Jefferson for the hotel’s special package called Sweet Nights. Can’t make it on February 14? Not to worry; they are celebrating Valentine’s Day the entire month of February. Rates start at $299 per night, and the special package includes custom-made chocolates and a nightcap for two.
Be sure to take advantage of the spa services and reserve a table for dinner at Plume, which is offering a Valentine’s Day menu, too. Executive chef Ralph Schlegel has created a decadent progression of courses that is sure to win over the heart of any man or woman, especially if he or she is a devoted gourmet. For $145 per person, his six-course tasting menu includes an amuse bouche and delightful choices such as lobster raviolini with cauliflower, macadamia nut, and Périgord truffle; and milk-fed veal with morel mushrooms and a veal reduction sauce. And for dessert: "Heart of Saint Valentine" cherry compote made with Tahitian vanilla mousse and yuzu ice cream.
The Oval Room
For a stunning place to woo your special someone, The Oval Room is the perfect combination of subdued sophistication and superb cuisine. They recently went through a very expensive renovation, have a new chef in place, and if you want to impress, this is the place. For Valentine’s Day, they are offering a special menu that includes a selection of amuses bouches plus three courses for $85 per person or with wine pairings for $125 person. We think you may be able to get your partner in the right mood with dishes like pheasant ravioli, consommé, black truffle, and gold leaf; braised pork cheeks, crispy pig ears, creamed cabbage, and whiskey jus; and for a ending your won’t forget—dark chocolate cake, strawberry crémeux, and bubbles of Champagne.
The sign of a truly great chef and restaurant is not merely dizzying heights of creativity but the ability, year in and year out, to deliver the best service and the most exquisite food. Fortunately, The Source never fails to impress; Wolfgang Puck is famous for his attention to detail, and so is executive chef Scott Drewno. Chef Drewno has created a playful Couples Menu that displays his best versions of Asian Fusion cuisine with enticing dishes like I Like the Way You Roll, which is spicy toro served with crunchy rice, a creamy hamachi roll, and avocado; Fishing For A Compliment comprising Nantucket Lighthouse scallops and grilled head on prawns; and Spoon Me, which is chocolate four ways with passion fruit panna cotta. The menu is $155 per person with an optional wine pairing for an additional fee.