Valentine's Day Dining 2012

photo by Julie Soefer.
There's no excuse fellas. The "I CRAVE U" box from Crave Cupcakes doesn't even require exiting your vehicle.
Ed. note: We are running this again after publishing it a week ago, for all you last-minute lovers.

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.

photo courtesy of Fratelli's Authentic Italian Cuisine.
Hot, bubbly cheese porn. Fratelli's Pollo Valdostana.
Anvil Bar & Refuge
1424 Westheimer, 713-523-1622
In 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.

Backstreet Cafe
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.

Boardwalk FantaSea
Kemah Boardwalk

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 $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.

CRAVE Cupcakes
Multiple locations

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.

Capitol at St. Germain on Facebook
The Capitol at St. Germain's menage a fois, perfect for two...or perhaps three...
Downtown Aquarium - Nautilus Ballroom
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.

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t'afia has a really decent menu out for Valentine's. with wine pairing. it gets my vote instead of Aquarium. but to each his own when the idea is romantic dining.


I thought that the menu at Ninfas on Navigation sounded pretty good so I made reservations for Tuesday. I called to verify the reservation and ask let them know we would be eating from the prix fixe menu and the chick on the phone said that there was no special menu. Has anyone encountered this problem, or should I just call back and hope that someone else picks up the phone.


"three-course prix-fixe menu ($95 per person),"

I checked their website.  It is $95 per COUPLE, not $95 per person. 

Nicole Buergers
Nicole Buergers

Not really dinner - but there is a Dairymaids and Saint Arnold's cheese and beer pairing with a dessert by Rebecca Masson at the brewery on Valentine's Day. Great restaurant alternative. http://events.r20.constantcont... 


Since I hate the crowds and rushed ambiance of the few hours encompassing Valentine's dinner, I appreciate the places like 17 restaurant and Bistro Alex that are letting me have a specially priced menu for several days.

Bistro Alex allows me the most flex, from Feb. 10-19. While 17 is doing an awesome menu from the 10th-13th.

Check it out if you like to avoid the pandemonium that is traditional Valentine's dinner.


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