Maybe it's fitting that Valentine's Day's beginnings were filled with tales of saints and martyrs. If you feel forced to celebrate the day with poems, hearts, and flowers, blame it on 18th-century England, where the day evolved into what we now recognize as the opportunity for confectioners and florists (and Hallmark) to make a killing.
Of course, Valentine's Day is also celebrated with a romantic dinner for two, with nearly every restaurant in town offering special dishes for lovers. From free gifts to live music (and plenty of chocolate for dessert), there's a meal guaranteed to whisper, "Be mine." Plus, we've selected each dinner for value. Not one costs more than $100 per person -- because a lovely dinner doesn't have to mean taking out a second mortgage on your condo. That way, you'll have some pocket change left over for a card and some flowers.
Prices exclude tax and gratuities, and reservations are strongly suggested.
Here's the scenario: You've finally got a date for Valentine's Day, but you're strapped for cash. No problem! RA Sushi is offering a three-course dinner for two for only $30. The offer is good Friday, February 14, through Sunday, February 16, and includes an appetizer, entrée, and dessert. With that deal, you can even spring for a bottle of wine.
For the big day, executive chef Wolfgang Birk offers special à la carte items, including five-spiced poached foie gras ($22), seared diver scallop ($19), and butter-poached lobster ($29). Guests can take home special edible chocolate body paint, and five lucky tables (chosen at random) will receive an additional gift from Exhale spa.
RUMBAR, Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne
All you I Love Lucy fans can channel the happy television couple with a celebration that includes a four-piece Latin band playing all of Ricky's hits and a chocolate buffet that Lucy would approve of. Complimentary rum tastings run from 7 to 8 p.m., and a chocolate buffet costs $22 per person. No reservations required.
You know what's more romantic that champagne? Beer! Biscayne Tavern is offering a special beer dinner with Chicago's Goose Island Brewery. Fifty-five bucks per person (plus tax and gratuity) gets you a four-course menu including baby beet salad, three-mushroom risotto, New York steak with potatoes and bacon, and flourless espresso chocolate cake. Each course is paired with a brew from Goose Island. Dinner is Friday, February 14, from 7 to 9 p.m.
A special lovers-themed four-course prix fixe is offered Friday, February 14, through Sunday, February 16. Priced at $150 per couple (excluding tax and gratuity), dinner includes a bottle of red or white wine. Want to canoodle at home? A special takeaway dinner for two is offered for $100 (must be pre-ordered no later than Wednesday, February 12). T&C will also offer romantic live musical entertainment on V-Day.
A special prix fixe dinner will feature sexy shared plates and champagne. The dinner, priced at $150 per couple (excludes tax and gratuity), begins with two glasses of Perrier-Jouet Grand Brut and a sushi and ceviche assortment. Other plates include truffle-honey-glazed quail with morel bread pudding and roasted king crab with grilled artichokes and serrano-ponzu butter. For the main course, feast on pan-roasted halibut with cauliflower trio and caviar butter, and Chateaubriand green peppercorn-cognac flambé with white asparagus. Coconut crème brûleé with mango tapioca and yuzu-passion jellies and A Kiss Goodnight -- an assortment of chef-selected salty and spicy chocolates -- will be served.
Chef Timon Balloo is offering a Valentine's Day five-course prix fixe tasting menu. Priced at $55 per person (excluding tax and gratuity), it features Kumamoto oysters with lemon granita and fennel pollen, followed by pappa al pomodoro with Mazara gamberi crudi. The pasta course consists of braised short-rib ravioli with burro fuso. Pan-seared branzino with farro and wilted kale follows. End the evening with a caramelized strawberry and champagne millefoglie. The $75-per-person meal includes wine pairings.
Valentine's Day à la carte specials at the Dutch include a whole roasted snapper a la chalaca for two, fresh fish covered in a light vegetable crudo with a spicy kick, served with a Florida citrus salad, palm hearts, and local mustard greens ($68). For dessert, pastry chef Joshua Gripper offers the "Chocolate Lovers Grail": chocolate custard, milk chocolate chantilly, passionfruit, and white chocolate sorbet, served with local strawberries, almond meringue, and caramel chocolate sauce drizzled on top ($18 for two).
Give your love the entire city of Miami (or at least a sweeping view) at Atrio while you enjoy a three-course dinner, accompanied by a violinist. For $95 per person, you can start with octopus carpaccio served with a fried oyster salad; then enjoy beef tenderloin accompanied by truffle bread and butter pudding and seared foie gras for an entrée (other offerings are available). The evening ends with a salted chocolate délice topped with Kahlúa crème fraîche and lychee mousse.
A four-course dinner starts with a complimentary glass of prosecco and includes an amuse-bouche of oyster with pearls, followed by crab bisque with sweet corn dumplings; local sturgeon, cauliflower purée, brown butter hazelnut, and pomegranate; and surf and turf (braised short rib with salsify and English peas and sautéed diver scallop with Peruvian potato and blood orange). Two sweets are offered: A palate-cleansing pre-dessert of passionfruit semifreddo is followed by a white-chocolate cheesecake with raspberry coulis. Cost is $75 per person.