The Villa By Barton G. (AKA Marriage Proposal Central): A First Taste

Gentlemen, we know you probably already spent thousands of dollars more than you ever anticipated on that little sparkly stone, but fork out a few more bucks if you want to make sure she accepts your proposal this Valentine's Day, take her to The Villa By Barton G. Not only are the seashell-encrusted surroundings disgustingly romantic, and the servers judiciously attentive, but the menu offerings and overall experience are also worthy of admiration.

We were invited to a press dinner there last night to preview the new menu and--holy heavens --the food is really amazing. Executive chef Jeff O'Neill, formerly of Gibraltar, held nothing back as he treated visitors to a cocktail reception followed by five courses of decadence.

The meal comprised a melt-on-your-tongue, soy-cured bigeye tuna, a creamy foie gras terrine, maple-glazed Barramundi in a foamy white ginger broth, pink-peppercorn decorated veal mignon and veal cheek, and a mocha-chocolate cream cake topped with espresso and bourbon for dessert. (Unfortunately we didn't get to try his Clementine-carrot velouté, but thankfully Lee Klein shared the recipe.) And then there were the little short rib terrine and Heirloom tomato hors d'oeuvres and the rosewater meringue mignardises. And let's not forget the wine pairings, including a Château Carbonnieux Grand Cru Classe that sent all of our tongues a-twitter.

Much to everyone's surprise we were also treated to an impromptu singing performance by Gavin Creel, who happened to be staying at the hotel before his show at Prelude tonight and tomorrow. Don't expect the same treatment when you arrive as he'll be long gone by then. But no matter--you'll be so busy making goo-goo eyes at your honey bunny that you wouldn't even notice if freakin' Elvis came back from the dead for a serenade.

The meal will cost top dollar, but hey -- hopefully this will be the last time you'll ever propose, right? Get the finest bottle of bubbly, order up some caviar, and indulge in an extra dessert before carrying her upstairs to a bed covered in rose petals. Listen, Cupid, go big or go home. (And if all that doesn't impress her, give the Love Bites girl a call. She'll appreciate the effort.)

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