Love is a wonderful thing, but when more than one-quarter of all Americans jockey for a dinner reservation on Valentine's Day, its reason enough to celebrate romance in the comfort of your home. Though we're the first to admit our affection for restaurants, Valentine's Day may be the one holiday we'd rather avoid our favorite eateries.
Turn the page for Squid Ink's Top Ten reasons why you should avoid booking a Valentine's Day dinner reservation. (With all apologies to our many favorite L.A. restaurants.)
1. There's no such thing as a romantic table for two on Valentine's. Restaurants must economize on space on this high-volume holiday. If what you want is a cozy little table for two, be prepared for a tight squeeze. Every inch of the dining room will be utilized for seating diners. See next point.
2. TMI in that PDA: Deep kisses and pawing may be fun, but when the lovemaking is brought to the tiny table next to yours, it becomes painfully clear that the romance has gone too far. Regardless of the levels of intimacy shared in a packed dining room, there's no avoiding the abundant public displays of affection.
3. Reservations are nearly impossible. According to a study by the National Restaurant Association, Valentine's Day is the second most popular holiday to dine out. Consequently, reservations at trusted restaurants are hard to come by. Save yourself the stomachache from an unknown eatery and make dinner at home.
4. Restaurant kitchens are pushed to the limit on Valentine's. If you're interested in indulging your lover with an impeccable dining experience, choose a night when the kitchen staff isn't killing themselves to get hundreds of plates of food out in a short period of time.
5. A leisurely dining experience is frowned upon. Restaurants are in the business of making money by selling food and giving great service, not renting out camping spots. If you desire an all night dining experience, do so at home. You will be expected to eat and leave the restaurant of your choosing within an hour or two of sitting down.
6. You won't be saving any money. Even if you choose to dine out at an inexpensive restaurant, be prepared to shell out the dough. Valentine's Day specials and fixed price menus are crafted to improve restaurant profit margins and streamline the cooking process. If your date wants two appetizers and two desserts, do you really want to say no? Order a bottle of bubbly and be prepared to pay at least two times as much as you would at the local wine store. Save your pennies and visit your neighborhood market for ingredients for a cozy meal at home.
7. It's more romantic to create a meal that revolves around your lover's whims. Our city's chefs are a talented bunch, but who knows your significant other's culinary peccadilloes better than you? Any chef can offer caviar and champagne. But only you knows your lover's three favorite ingredients. Play to your strengths.
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8. No matter how good a restaurant is, it can't be all things to all people. Someone will be disappointed. For example, if you think paying $38 dollars for an entrée is too much, avoid a restaurant that serves $38 entrées. A steak house might be good for you, but not for your darling vegetarian.
9. Restaurants don't necessarily offer the most appropriate atmosphere for a night of romance. Many restaurateurs--in an effort to create a particular kind of ambiance--dim their lights and crank the music, or keep the room bright and play music you'd hear in waiting rooms. At home you have the liberty to create a lighting scheme and sound track you can smooch to.
10. The bedroom is never close enough. Need we say more?
Brooke Burton is also the author of Foodwoolf.com.