Diners, beware of Feb. 14.
By Judi Gallagher
OK, in case you haven’t quite figured out the reality of Valentine’s Day dining (also included in this category is Mother’s Day and New Year’s Eve), dining out on February 14 could be the most unromantic thing a couple could do. For most of my career, I managed fine-dining restaurants during this price-gouging holiday. Sure, not everyone jacks the entrees up $5, the champagne bottles $10 and the chocolate desserts another $4, but be aware that many dining destinations do just that with “special menus,” all the while adding 8-10 more two-tops, usually on top of each other so everyone can hear your romantic intimate conversation from soup to nuts.
I have various stories to retell over the years. The time a couple got engaged outside as the sun was setting, her diamond served in a martini that she didn’t notice until the last gulp. Following three or four more martinis, the couple had a huge fight, asked for their dinners to go and tried stealing the crystal wine glasses on their way out. (I never did find out if they made it to the altar, but I did stop them at the door and remove the glasses from the take-out bag). There was the time I told the guest it was nice to see him back a second time that week—unfortunately, I had not realized the earlier visit was not with his wife, which put a damper on his try for a romantic dinner that night. An, then there were the violinist and chocolate box filled with a diamond ring served in front of everyone--only the groom-to-be broke out in hives before he could pop the question and had to be rushed to the hospital.…
So my advice: Go out to dinner the night before or the weekend after, when the extra crammed-in tables have been removed and the champagne is back down to its usual price. Forget the red roses—buy a cheese plate from C’est Cheese and a dozen cappucino mocha cookies from Divinia Jeanie and bring it to the beach at sunset. Or rent a romantic movie and get a huge plate of sushi to go and a container of chocolate Haagen Dazs. Both Cosimo’s and Roy’s are offering a special prix fixed menu for the week of Valentine’s Day so you don’t have the added pressure of Thursday or bust! As for me, we have spent many Valentine’s nights with a four-cheese pizza in our jammies or devouring buffalo wings at the Sports Page. This year my Valentine and I are going to Pho Cali for some pan-fried dumplings and Asian lobster before a stroll down to the bay front.
What are your plans for Valentine’s Dinner this year? Please share by posting below.