These days, every time we walk into a supermarket, pharmacy or even drive past certain intersections of town, we're faced with an explosion of red and pink, well, everything: "Be My Valentine" cards, heart-shaped boxes of chocolate, fake long-stem roses, and endless tins of chalky candy hearts sending their messages of adoration and/or embittered jealousy. V-Day makes some people want to cuddle closer to their loved one; of course it makes some of the rest of us huddle closer to a bottle of vodka, but whatever.
Whatever you think of Valentine's Day, you've still got to eat. So if you're looking for an indulgent poolside prix-fixe complete with red roses and monogrammed napkins, or a V-Day menu that reads like it was cribbed from a romance novel, we've got it covered. (If a la carte menus or just desserts are more your speed, check back later for Part 2.) All you have to do is find a date.
Heading downtown? From Friday, February 11 to Monday, February 14, Drago Centro serves a $65/person, five-course menu by chefs Celestino Drago and Ian Gresik. Dishes include a seasonal vegetable salad; seared Diver scallops; wild mushroom and truffle risotto; duo of beef with polenta and Brussels sprouts; and Pavlova dessert. Wine pairings by sommelier Michael Shearin available for an extra $35/person. Reservations start at 5 p.m.
From Friday to Monday, Nick + Stef's Steakhouse has a $59/person three-course menu (add ten bucks if you want a fourth course) with choices like yellowtail sashimi; cauliflower soup; Diver scallops; poached Loup de Mer; filet mignon with Peruvian potato confit and chanterelle mushrooms; and braised Kurobuta pork belly.
Starting at 4:30 p.m. on Friday through Monday, Kendall's Brasserie and Bar offers a $60/three-course and $75/four-course prix-fixe menu prepared by executive chef Andres Roller. If you're in the mood for dishes like roasted fois gras mousse; red curry squash agnolotti with brown butter and Parmesan foam; duck confit with celeriac puree; and rose petal macaroons, make your reservation now.
Chaya Downtown has a $75/person, three-course tasting menu with roasted beets and Dungeness crab and Meyer lemon cream; Hudson Valley foie gras with artichoke pate; grilled veal loin with port wine sauce; and milk chocolate croissant bread pudding with caramel ice cream. Across town on February 12 through 14, Chaya Brasserie has a $95/person, four-course menu created by new executive chef Harutaka Kishi consisting of truffle cream cheese crostini amuse bouche; butter poached Maine lobster with braised gobo root; coffee-spiced Black Angus beef tenderloin with artichoke hearts, baby shitake mushrooms, kale and sunchoke veloute; and for dessert, chocolat a la folie: chocolate fudge, chocolate mousse, white Godiva chocolate liqueur, and finished with a chocolate rum and dark chocolate covered raspberries. Finally, from February 11 through February 14, Chaya Venice serves a menu based on romantic duos, with pairs of specialty cocktails like the Valentini Chocolate Martini and the Chaya Kiss. Dinner "duos" include Antipasto "For Two" ($38) with escargot en cocotte and classic tuna tartar; "Surf and Turf" ($48) with Kobe beef filet mignon with black truffle madera sauce, and sauteed half Maine lobster; and dessert sampler "For Two" ($22) with chocolate covered strawberries, baked truffle cake, lemon cheesecake and bread pudding.
Cafe Pinot has really gotten into the spirit of the love with a $65/three-course or $75/four-course menu with five options per course like Maine lobster bisque "seduced" by creme fraiche and Granny Smith apples; ménage à trois of tuna (we're not making this stuff up); "soulmate" mushroom risotto "caressed" with truffle chantilly; breast of chicken, love potion Dijon glaze and Pinot's garlic fries.
For the early birds, Zucca Ristorante starts serving its $55/three-course and $65/four-course at 4 p.m. on Friday through Monday nights, giving you a choice of over 12 dishes such as butternut squash soup; squid ink risotto with butter-poached Maine lobster; buckwheat pappardelle pasta with artichokes and lamb ragu; and bone-in pork loin with fennel, black truffles and roasted potatoes.
From WeHo to the Westside, Suzanna Goin's trio of restaurants restaurants have their own prix-fixe Valentine's Day menus. At Lucques, Goin has designed a four-course ($110/person) menu -- think Parisian gnocchi with spring vegetables; grilled Niman Ranch club steak for two with potato puree, arugula and horseradish cream; and tarte au fromage with Meyer lemon, blueberry compote and candied lemon -- prepared by chef de cuisine Rodolfo Aguado, finished with sweets from pastry chef Christina Olufson. A few blocks away at wine bar AOC, each couple can choose five savory dishes and one dessert for $85/guest. Brentwood's Tavern, a great option for romance under its glass-roofed atrium, has an $85/person, four-course menu filled with tried-and-true customer favorites like a wild mushroom tart with onions, Gruyere and herb salad; herb-roasted rack of lamb with tapenade, arugula and artichoke-potato gratin; and chocolate and coffee cake with Gianduja and salted caramel ice cream.
Also in WeHo, Petrossian has a $75/person, five-course dinner served Feb. 11th, 12th and 14th with a starter of 30 grams of Transmontanus caviar followed by your choices of Kumamoto oysters or persimmon salad; homemade pasta with Gorgonzola, pear and red wine or warm asparagus with Parmesan and poached egg; beef tenderloin or rainbow trout; and white chocolate fondue with assorted fruits, cake and cookies.
In Beverly Hills, the menu Sunday and Monday night at the Belvedere at The Peninsula Hotel is a $127/person, five-course dinner including heart of caviar parfait; cocoa-glazed Loch Duart salmon filet; grilled prime beef tenderloin; and raspberry-Champagne Charlotte Russe. Wine pairings are available for an extra $50 per person, but romantic touches like a long-stemmed red rose and tunes by pianist Antonio Castillo de la Gala are free. If you really want to impress your date, bypass the Belvedere and head to The Peninsula's rooftop private pool cabanas from 5 to 9 p.m. and opt for a private five-course dinner served by your very own personal attendant and accompanied by monogrammed napkins, a red rose centerpiece and validated valet parking. Oh, bring your wallet, too, because it's $290/couple. For reservations, call (310) 551-2888 or visit The Peninsula's website.
Morton's The Steakhouse has a $54.50/person, three-course steak and seafood dinner menu with a Caesar or Morton's salad; filet mignon; seafood or vegetable side dish; and Morton's hot chocolate cake for dessert. At the bar, try a Red Velvet cocktail, made with Prosecco, Chambord, and Lindemans Raspberry Lambic ($14). The menu is available at all Morton's The Steakhouse locations (Beverly Hills, Burbank, downtown, Woodland Hills).
Michael Cimarusti's Providence has a $150/person "early" (5 and 6 p.m.) and $120/person "late" (8:30 and 9 p.m.) seating for its seven-course "Elements of Romance" Valentine's Day dinner. Courses include "Fresh," "Sultry," "Spicy," "Dark and Mysterious," "Decadent," "Flirtatious," and "Ardent" and include dishes such as kanpachi sashimi; day-boat scallops with cashew, eggplant and rhubarb; grilled wild striped bass with nori meunière, sweet peas and back truffles; and dark chocolate creameaux with candied blood orange. Extra points if you can match the course to the element.
All weekend long, diners at The Malibu Cafe at Calamigas Ranch can paddle boat out to the center of the lake and dine on an island, or camp out in a daybed or cabana while enjoying a free Champagne split and Bourbon caramel bread pudding with Malibu's beachy cream "hot" chocolate brownie ice cream. If watersports on V-Day isn't your thing, for $100/couple you can order Malibu Cafe's gourmet Valentine picnic lunch basket to enjoy anywhere on Calamigas' Ranch property, including a large blanket, shared appetizer, two entrées, and dessert, as well as a champagne split and a bottle of wine from neighboring Saddlerock Vineyards. Just make sure to return the basket and blanket before the end of the night.
Moving further West, Culver City is also feeling the love, especially at Rush Street. The Chicago-inspired restaurant and bar has a three-day extravaganza starting with a "Calling All Singles" dance party on Saturday, Feb. 12 in its pole dancing room; a Cupid's Brunch on Sunday, Feb. 13 served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. with make-your-own bottomless Bloody Mary Bar and endless mimosas; and on Monday, Feb. 14, a three-course V-Day dinner with 1/2 price wine, champagne and cocktails for the ladies, and all the pro basketball the guys can handle. Hint for the guys: make sure to specify which TV you want to face when you make your reservation.
Fraiche's new executive chef Ben Bailly has created an $80/person, four-course menu filled with dishes from his recently overhauled menu. Enjoy an amuse of salmon tartare with potato chips and Ossetra caviar, then choose from a sampling of lobster ceviche with shaved turnip, lime and espelette; cavatelli with mushroom Bolognese and house made ricotta; and monkfish picatta with cauliflower, almonds, raisins and capers; among others.
Down the street, Le Saint Amour has a $55/person, three-course menu designed for you "to fall in love again" over plates full of lobster chestnut soup and foie gras chantilly; Maine Diver scallops; prime beef filet with wild mushrooms, potato mousseline; Loup de Mer Provencal; and chocolate fondant or lemon mousse dessert.
Royal/T has a Royal Indian Valentine's Day dinner with four different four-course, prix-fixe menus ($60/person), with tomato-coconut contentment; a "Love Bites" sharable platter with coconut saffron shrimp, cilantro crab bites and yogurt clouds; pomegranate lamb or Konkai fish stew; and an apricot pudding with whipping cream. Vegetarian options available upon request.
RockSugar Pan Asian Kitchen has a $58/person, five-course menu including over 25 menu items at its Century City location. Choose three appetizers, one soup or salad dish, one seafood or meat dish, one rice, noodle or vegetable side dish, and one dessert per person.
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BREADBAR Century City's chef Noriyuki Sugie is making a $28/person, four-course French/Japanese menu. Highlights include Waldorf salad; duck confit with red curry sauce and couscous; and cinnamon sugar doughnuts served with hot chocolate sauce. Wine pairings are available for $32 extra for the full wine menu, or $8-10 for each individual course. Or skip the wine and go for Cupid's Kiss cocktail made from vodka, Cointreau, pomegranate juice, lemon juice, and simple syrup ($6).
Heading towards the beach, CAFE del REY's new executive chef Daniel Roberts serves a $65/person, three course menu with a champagne granite intermezzo and dishes including house cured Scottish salmon with crisp artichoke, crème fraîche, tiny greens, and basil vodka limoncello, as well as a chocolate decadence mousse with cognac truffle ganache and pomegranate brush. A limited à la carte menu is also available.
One Pico insider Shutters on the Beach serves an $80/person five-course dinner on Sunday, Feb. 13 and Monday, Feb. 14. Menu highlights include Kumomoto oyster and caviar; braised baby octopus, Maple Farms duck ravioli with foie gras, and Maine lobster gnocchi with Hen of the Wood mushrooms.
On the other side of the hill, Pinot Bistro has a themed $55/three course, $65/four course menu -- courses are named "Amusement," "First Encounters," "Courtship," "Devoted," and "Everlasting Love" -- with a caviar purse; asparagus volute, saffron-Pernod mussles with tomato confit; pan-roasted cod "vichyssoise"; and duo of beef with braised short rib and grilled prime hanger steak.