Don’t believe your significant other when they insist that Valentine’s Day isn’t all that important to them. They’re lying. And don’t even think of using the line “Every
day is Valentine’s Day with you
” as an excuse to get out of some serious February 14th planning. That’s crap. It’s the one day out of the year when we can rely on a big, showy bouquet of flowers being sent to the office, and you taking the initiative to make the dinner reservations for once. And don’t forget the cheesy, heart-shaped boxes of terrible chocolate. We love that shit.
And side note to our husband — even though we’re the food writer in the family, you’re still required to score a table at a really nice restaurant. And by the way, it can’t be one off of this list. That doesn’t count. Show a little forethought….haven’t you been listening to us rattle on about all of the new, hot restaurant openings all of these years?
For anyone that isn’t our husband, you’re welcome. All you need to do is pick a spot off of this fail-safe compilation of awesome eateries, and your sweetie will be suitably appeased. But you better get cracking and pick up the phone already, because haven’t you heard? Valentine’s Day is less than two weeks away. And if you wait too long and miss out on all of the totally prime tables, well, no one can help you after that.
- Courtesy New York Portraits
Since almost every decent restaurant these days defines themselves as local and seasonal, going out to eat can require a leap of faith. There are really no set menus anymore, few dishes you can expect to find with any reasonable regularity. Even on Valentine’s Day, most chefs will refuse to commit to a menu until a day or so before (if then). So if you’re going to be flying blind, might as well dine at one of the progenitors of the hyper-seasonal movement, Applewood in Park Slope. At $195 per couple (or $245 with wine pairings), you’re assured an entirely delicious, grass-fed, antibiotic-free, sustainably-fished feast.
501 11th St, (718) 788-1810
This wholly unpretentious Prospect Heights restaurant is dialing down the quirk factor just slightly for VDay (horseradish and bacon sandwiches, beer-battered squash rolls, and carrot-parsnip pancakes with sautéed greens haven’t made the menu). $65pp buys a refined, three-course spread (plus bonus bonbons from Chocolat Moderne). Look for pork belly and frisee salad, pan-seared duck breast with pecans, Brussels sprouts, and cranberry vinegar, and candy apple pie with sour cream gelato.
606 Vanderbilt Ave, (718) 230-0125
This sexy, scene-y restaurant in Williamsburg’s Wythe Hotel is the ultimate special occasion place. And since it comes from the team behind Diner, Roman’s and Marlow and Sons, the food ain’t too shabby either. Look for the Valentine’s Day menu to reflect chef Sean Rembold’s rustic, back-to-the-land aesthetic, in dishes like White Bean Soup with escarole and rabbit sausage, Oyster Stew with bacon and sunchokes, and Sweet Potatoes with bone marrow and green garlic.
80 Wythe Ave, (718) 460-8004
We can’t imagine this newly acclaimed, avante garde Williamsburg contender wasn’t on everyone’s speed dial for Valentine’s Day this year (especially since the five course menu is $65pp…$55 for the vegetarian option. During inflation-happy VDay, that’s a serious steal). That being said, you better get to a phone stat if you want a shot at Oysters with Beets, Horseradish and Skyr, Winter Roots with Leaves and Vegetables, and Chocolate with Rose. No, we don’t know what the heck that actually translates to either, but this is Gwynnett St. They make pistachio crusted tofu taste good.
312 Graham Ave, (347) 889-7002
This new Fort Greene restaurant is the perfect choice for VDay; they’ve quickly proven themselves masters of the prix fixe with their exciting, creative Chef’s Table. It won’t come cheap on Valentine’s Day ($125pp, which includes a glass of bubbly to start). But the promised menu sounds wildly inventive and super sexy — think a “Mock Oyster” with oyster leaf and oyster cream, a Live Scallop in its Shell “À La Menièure” with Bacon Bubbles and Micro Herbs, Pan Roasted Black Cod with “elements of chowder,” Creekstone Farms 28 day Dry aged Sirloin with Seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras, 1000 Layer Potatoes, Smoked Spinach, and Foie Gras Bordelaise, and Parisian Lavender Chocolate Cake with Honey Truffles, Milk Chocolate Gelato.
773 Fulton St, (718) 596-6826
If you’re spending Valentine’s Day in South Brooklyn, this ultra intimate (30 seat) boite is a total no brainer. Chef Kat is sure to turn out all sorts of delicious, local/seasonal surprises from her teeny, one woman kitchen, like a Nantucket Seafood Bisque with clams, oysters and cream, Merlot braised short ribs with baby onion brulee, and Belgian chocolate fallen soufflé with spiced mascarpone and espresso soup.
276 Bay Ridge Ave, (718) 833-3443
Show your significant other you know a thing or two by taking her to this Michelin-starred restaurant. We especially appreciate that chef/owner Saul Bolton isn’t too high-falutin to share his VDay menu in advance, and that it’s actually not as expensive as it could be ($95pp for four courses, $60 additional with wine pairings). Choices include Torchon of Foie Gras with Mejool dates, oranges, and pink pepper aigue doux, Squab with pomegranate, bulgur, carrots, and spiced yogurt, Lobster “Mole Poblano” with almonds, sultanas, and ancho chillies, and Stracciatella Chocolate with brandied cherries and Oreo crumble ice cream for dessert.
140 Smith St, (718) 935-9844
It’s actually cheaper to eat out at this cozy little Bed Stuy spot on Valentine’s Day than to hole up at home. The unprecedented $42pp price tag includes a cocktail, as well as three courses all featuring aphrodisiacs. Lay the groundwork for a sexy after party with your sweetie by indulging in warm lobster salad, goat cheese stuffed figs, “Love Linguine” with almonds, asparagus, basil, truffle oil, and white wine, chocolate dipped strawberries, and pannacotta with spiced caramel sauce.
549 Classon Ave, (718) 399-3003