While they should probably just rename Valentine's Day's Restaurant Prix Fixe Day, we understand not everyone is into a rousing (and often wildly expensive) multi-course dinner. Perhaps you don't have a sweet tooth, are chicka-pescetarian (yes, there is such a thing), or maybe you'd rather have three courses of wine rather than food. To each his own. If you want the prix fixe menus, go read part 1 of our Valentine's Day Roundup; if an a la carte menu or maybe just dessert is more your thing, turn the page.
Chef Andrew Kirschner's Wilshire Restaurant is serving its entire dinner menu on Valentine's Day, with favorites like Tahitian squash ravioli; whole fried Thai snapper with soba noodles; and duck leg confit with quinoa and chanterelles available during lunch (11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.) and dinner (6 to 10 p.m.).
Downtown's Corkbar has an à la carte menu of chef's Valentine's Day specials ranging from seared duck breast with a Port reduction to molten chocolate cake with crème anglaise. Entree prices range between $10 and $20; a flight of sparkling wine is $25.
Two words: Meat Market. But it's not what you think. Fig's chef Garcia has put together a half-meat and half-market-driven menu aimed at satisfying both sexes. If you or your man are in the mood for a huge plate of California prime aged steak, bacon tacos, or even "offal" items like duck heart tartare, consider it done. Then your other half can enjoy can the "Market" side of the menu, which plays to Fig's traditional menu strengths with dishes like young beets with Santa Barbara pistachios; scarlet quinoa with butternut squash and Marcona almonds; vegetable curry; and warm Parmesan and avocado tart.
Barbrix has its entire dinner menu ready to go but has also thrown in a few Valentine's Day specials, like marinated citrus seafood cocktail with shrimp, scallops and tuna; a grilled Caribbean spiced lobster tail with saffron risotto; and filet mignon with potato-bacon-leek cake and Roquefort red wine sauce.
Or head just south of La Cienega's restaurant row to Caffe Carrera, where the fifth generation of the Carrera family is dishing up family recipes that go all the way back to their Sicilian roots in 1908. While they have a $39.95/person prix-fixe menu available, the à la carte menu includes dishes such as homemade Polpettone Sicilian-style meatloaf with shiitake mushroom sauce; "bags" of borsettine pasta stuffed with Gorgonzola in a sundried tomato sauce; and a Rollatini chicken breast filled with mushrooms and eggplant in a lemon sauce, among others.
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Want to skip dinner altogether and get straight to the sweet stuff? WeHo's Magnolia Bakery sells a $30 Love Note Box, filled with six vanilla and chocolate cupcakes topped with vanilla buttercream that spell out LOVE (for the math whizzes out there, the other two cupcakes are topped with a heart and cherub). A pink tulle wrapper and vintage tag makes the deal even sweeter. ChocolateBox Café's sells a box of handmade Belgium chocolates accompanied with Privé Salon's customized blow-dry and style for $95.
La Monarca Bakery, a newly opened panaderia in Santa Monica, has alternatives to classic boxed chocolates in the form of Mexican baked goods. Think fresh-baked cookie platters with traditional Mexican wedding cookies and Polvorones (Mexican sugar cookies), as well as a variety of made-fron-scratch cakes including Dulce de Leche, Tres Leches, and Mexican mocha.
Over the entire V-Day weekend, Gelato Bar, a gelato and espresso caffe in Studio City and Los Feliz, has a 2-for-1 special of "Cupido," a gelato of dark chocolate with toasted hazelnuts. Order Cupido in any size and get a second order free. Prices range from $3.50 - $6.75 for individual sizes.
If you don't have any time to plan something over the weekend, we've even got a post V-Day option for you. On Tuesday, February 15 and Wednesday, February 16, chef Joseph Mahon (Bastide) and restaurateur/sommelier David Haskell (Bin8945, Le Cirque) are serving a $48/person, four-course 'Pal Cabron' menu and optional $27/person wine pairing. Pozole with romaine, lime and herbs; squid with chorizo; flank steak with cactus salad and chiles; and flan with pineapple and vanilla caramel sauce. If you're still hungry, four additional courses are available for $8/each; or choose the $72/person option and get the full eight-course meal. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (323) 798-4648 for reservations.