February 1, 2011

Sweet Places for You and Your Sweetie: Valentine's Day Top 10

First things first. My first version of this posting had a picture of lipstick lips on a napkin. I wanted to provide you with a visual. Food blogs are supposed to have appetizing pictures.

But that picture didn't turn out so appetizing. I posted it, I decided I really did hate it, and I took it down. (Now, I'm left with bright red lips, the night before a big presentation.)

BUT...on to more important things, this post is for all of my wonderful guy friends out there who may be looking for some Valentine’s Day ideas (and for the ladies in my life who are the planners in the relationship). Here you go. My top 10 recos for V-Day in no particular order. (You can thank Ryan B for this idea!)

La Belle Vie Lounge: You can splurge on the dining room if you’d like, but I happen to love the Lounge. Swanky, romantic, and special-feeling. The tasting menu is awesome, particularly with the matching wine flights. Before you start on the tasting menu, have one of their cocktails (they’re known for them) and the fries with béarnaise. Mmm. Take a cab home for the full experience. They are very generous with the wine flight pours. Tasting menu w/ matching wine flights in the lounge is a guaranteed good night. I have friends who will vouch for this.

Lucia’s Wine Bar: Love this place for any Friday night, but would also make it a special occasion place. The wine bar (vs the restaurant) is the best of both worlds. I think it’s hipper and more cozy than the restaurant, and you can still order off the restaurant menu if you’d like. Try to grab the table in hallway towards the back right in front of the kitchen window. You can see everything as it comes out and plan your meal accordingly! Not to mention have privacy. Get the Focaccia Crostini with a Trio of Spreads. And dessert is a must—they bring a killer dessert tray around.

Surdyk’s: I’m guessing some of you will be looking for takeout. Wine? Check. (Duh.) But they also have a gem of a cheese shop too where you can pull together a full spread. They have an amazing cheese counter where they let you generously sample any of the cheeses you want and then proceed to wrap up your choices in beautiful white paper (I’m a sucker for this; it makes me want to buy more cheese). All the fresh baguettes and crackers you could want. Delicious paninis. They even have hot entrees (that I haven’t tried, but would). Yummy desserts, too (try the brownie or macarons).

Lucia’s To Go: Another takeout option. Everything is always great. They have entrees (that change by the week, but think Beef Stroganoff or Roasted Chicken) that you can take home and heat. I’m sure Lucia’s To Go will also have a full entourage of fun Valentine’s Day desserts as well. Lucia does fun seasonal items. I always end up with impulse buys that catch me as I walk down the counter to pay (random salted caramels or handmade chips and salsa). Don’t be afraid to go overboard. You’ll be glad you did.

Piccolo: Delicious! One of the best new-ish restaurants in town. But look at the menu before you commit—they constantly change it, and the options are limited. Everything I’ve ever had has been fantastic; it’s just not for everyone. Piccolo serves small plates—not small plates to share. Small plates as in four bites or so. Which is fun because then you can try a lot of different things. About 4 and you’re moderately full. If I was going, I’d be trying the Chocolate Soup with Coconut, Cinnamon, and Hot Pepper Oil. Very cute space. Perfect for Valentine’s Day.

Corner Table: Charming, cozy, good food, good service, and my guess is it will be one of the easier places to get into for Valentine's Day. Also easy parking—a bonus! See my review “Corner Table: 1 Year, 9 Months Later.”

Meritage: Other side of the river. If you’re willing to venture over to St. Paul, go to Meritage. French food, very Parisian looking inside, and very tasty. The salted ice cream pops for dessert are the best. Love those. Service is spotty—I’ve had good experiences and bad. But food has always been good. And the chef makes rounds at the tables. (And if you mention said spotty service to him, you get free salted ice cream pops. I'm just sayin...)

Alma: Okay, disclaimer here. Zach and I went a few years ago and ordered their Valentine’s Day menu. Between that and one bottle of wine we spent almost $300, and I have yet to get over it. Nothing tastes that good, especially when you don't expect to spend that much. But the food was great. And everyone raves about it. I haven’t been back since, but have been wanting too. Beware the Valentine’s Day menu though! You have been warned, no nasty-grams about this.

Cooks of Crocus Hill: I haven’t checked out their Valentine’s Day schedule, but a cooking class here would be a great idea. I love the demonstration classes—you generally get served a full meal, and they have wine to buy by the glass. It’s a fun night, and it’s good food. AND you can do your Valentine's Day shopping there too with the 15% coupon they give you with all cooking classes.

Café Lurcat: Lurcat is just solid. The food is always really well prepared, and the items on the menu are recognizable, so it's generally a crowd-pleaser. It also has great view of Loring Park. Great service. Favorites: apple, chive, cheese salad; mini burgers; fries; miso-glazed sea bass; mini doughnuts; A to Z Pinot Noir.



  1. Have you been to Rinata yet Sarah? It is the same chef as Al Vento, but I think it's better food frankly. I think this would be a great place for Valentine's Day. They have a great $15 Restaurant Week deal coming up if you guys and Ben and Wendy want to go!

  2. No, I haven't been, but I should try it! We should all go!