Valentine's Day Dining 2012
Ed. note: We are running this again after publishing it a week ago, for all you last-minute lovers.
photo by Julie Soefer. There's no excuse fellas. The "I CRAVE U" box from Crave Cupcakes doesn't even require exiting your vehicle.
It isn't hard to figure out why dining and chocolate candy play such a prominent role in Valentine's Day celebrations. Eating is, by nature, extremely sensual. Few activities are capable of pleasurably and simultaneously stimulating the senses of touch, taste, smell, and sight like eating a fabulous meal. Okay, we can think of one other, and yet food, especially chocolate, sometimes ranks higher. And if you just went by the noises overheard at a five star restaurant -- heavy-lidded wows, slow-moaned oh-my-Gods, spontaneous four-letter expletives, and wild exclamations of approval -- it might be hard to differentiate between the two.
The point is, if you're hoping for an evening of passion on Valentine's Day, a sumptuous dinner is fantastic foreplay. Restaurants wise to this fact will go all out get you through their door, and we've listed a few of the more tantalizing lures below. Just remember that crowds are likely - even on the 11th and 12th -- so always play it safe and make a reservation.
Anvil Bar & Refuge
photo courtesy of Fratelli's Authentic Italian Cuisine. Hot, bubbly cheese porn. Fratelli's Pollo Valdostana.
1424 Westheimer, 713-523-1622In addition to offering an assortment of high-end chocolate -- including boutique bon bons by Rebecca Masson of Fluff Bake Bar -- the souse-savants at Anvil have crafted a special Valentine's Day menu of "Cocktails for Two" featuring a variety of punches and drinks made to share.
1103 S. Shepherd, 713-521-2239
Romance blooms year-round amid Backstreet Cafe's lovely al fresco patios and fireside seating, so it's only natural that Valentine's Day be stretched into an all-out four-day affair. From February 10th-13th lovers can enjoy a complimentary appetizer (Goat Cheese Dip with Toast, Miniature Smoked Corn Crab Cakes and Bacon-wrapped Quail) and three-course prix-fixe menu ($95 per person), or celebrate on February 14th with live music by Bob Chadwick and a special four-course feast ($65 per person).
Bistro Alex - Hotel Sorella
800 Sorella Ct., 713-827-3545
Those with the hots for New American fare will surely swoon over Chef Roland Soza's decadent Valentine's Day menu. Special entrees include a cast-iron seared Prime Ribeye with a Maytag blue cheese Lyonnaise potato and coffee ganache ($34), an Angus Filet of Beef with truffle mushroom butter in a port reduction ($32), and a Surf and Turf featuring a butter and champagne-poached lobster tail, grilled filet, and caviar butter ($60). It's official. We are actually drooling.
What's better than a romantic Valentine's Day dinner? A romantic Valentine's Day dinner on a freakin' boat, that's what. On February 11, 12 and 14, couples can drink, dine, and dance aboard a 117-foot yacht departing from the Kemah Boardwalk. The two and-a-half-hour tour features beautiful views of Clear Lake, Kemah, and Galveston Bay, and includes dinner with a choice of appetizer or soup, salad, Espresso-crusted Prime Rib or Lobster Thermidor-stuffed Sea bass, and chocolate genoise cake (filled with chocolate mousse and chocolate ganache). The FantaSea begins boarding at 6pm and departs at 7 p.m. For reservations, visit www.BoardwalkFantaSea.com. $79.99 per person.
Cafe Pita +
10852 Westheimer, 713-953-7237
"We Bosnians love to share food, especially appetizers and desserts", says Omer Okanovic, owner and executive chef of Café Pita +. In that spirit, the Westside eatery hailed "Houston's only Halal Bosnian restaurant" will feature a romantic three-course dinner best enjoyed with another. For a mere $25 couples can enjoy a medley of appetizers, a combination entree of cevapi, beef and chicken kebab, and stuffed pljeskavica, and dessert options that may prove too tasty to share.
Capitol at St. Germain
705 Main St., 713-492-2454
On February 14, the new downtown dining and entertainment venue, once a turn-of-the-century supper club, will host a four-course musically inspired meal for two. The score includes a "prelude" of appetizers like Shrimp Scampi, Beef Carpaccio, and Crispy Gulf Blue Crab Bomb, a choice of Butternut Squash Soup or Pear & Arugula salad, followed by a trio of entree options including Seared Sea Scallops with White Truffle Oil, and culminating in an "overture" of Chef Kevin Bryant's hand-crafted desserts. $59 - $79 per person.
Procrastinators rejoice! On February 14 both the 5600 Kirby and 1151 Uptown Park locations will offer a clever grab-n-go Valentine's Day package consisting of four cupcakes -- red velvet, vanilla, dark chocolate, and strawberry on chocolate -- and an "I CRAVE U" greeting card for curbside pickup from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Yep folks, that's right, you don't even have to get out of the car! $20.
Downtown Aquarium - Nautilus Ballroom
Capitol at St. Germain on Facebook The Capitol at St. Germain's menage a fois, perfect for two...or perhaps three...
410 Bagby, 713-223-3474
If your special someone's turn-ons include fish, Ferris wheels, and underwater landscapes, the Downtown Aquarium's "Romance Under-the-Sea Valentine's Day Sweetheart Package" is probably the way to go. On February 11 and 14, couples will be treated to an elegant, romantic setting in the Nautilus Ballroom with a complimentary bottle of wine and four-course meal, as well as a rose (for the lady) and a photo to remember the evening by. $75 per person.
Fratelli's Authentic Italian Cuisine
10989 Northwest Freeway, 713-957-1150
For Chef Teresa Tadeo Whitman, February 14 is a day to savor what you love. In her case, that means food. "Valentine's Day is one of my favorite days of the year," she says, "because I get to eat what I love -- shrimp, cheese and chocolate -- guilt free!" Whitman will showcase her guilt-free (yet by no means diet) pleasures in a five-course prix-fixe menu available from 5 to 10 p.m. on Valentine's Day. Highlights include Gamberetti Amore (Jumbo shrimp coated with a walnut flour batter, deep-fried and served on a bed of fresh greens with Aioli sauce), Tortellini al Forno (handmade tortellini pasta with Asiago, Fontina, and Mozzarella cheeses, chopped walnuts, and creamy tomato sauce), and Medaglioni di Manzo (Beef tenderloin medallions pan seared in olive oil and sautéed with baby portabella mushrooms and a red wine reduction sauce), with a chocolate torte or tiramisu for dessert. $49 per person.