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.