You don't need to be a great lover to knock the socks off your Valentine—just be punctual. Valentine's Day is less than two weeks away and restaurants are filling up fast, so start calling around right now for a reservation. (That is, unless you want to get caught with your pants down. ...)
Dining Out Special
Valentine's Dining Guide
A Tour D'amour
7600 Jefferson NE, 821-2666
On Saturday, Feb. 11, and Tuesday, Feb. 14, Kathy Lovin's Vineyard Express winery tour will ply you and your sweetie with champagne, roses and chocolates, then whisk you both away on a private tour and tasting at what is arguably the most romantic winery in New Mexico, Casa Rondeña. After the tour, you'll both be treated to a French dinner at Café Voila. Cost is $115 per person. Log on to www.thevineyardexpress.net for details and registration.
The Wild Card
108 Rio Grande NW, 242-6560
Who knows? Their eight-course Valentine's menu wasn't completed as of press time, but whatever the guys at Ambrozia end up doing, it's going to be outstanding. Just trust us. Dinner on Valentine's Day will set you back $75 per person. If you don't mind celebrating a little earlier, you can even save yourself $20— Ambrozia will offer the same special menu on Monday, Feb. 13, for just $55 per person. Seatings are at 6 and 8 p.m. on both nights.
A Flexible French Kiss
Le Café Miche
1431 Wyoming NE, 299-6088
When you're French, Valentines Day is every day. That's why Le Café Miche is offering a special lovers' menu the weekend before (Feb. 10 and 11) and the weekend after (Feb. 17 and 18) the big day. That's five chances to woo her right! Plus, she'll feel like a queen when you roll up to the Miche's free new valet parking. The four-star service extends inside the restaurant with a four-course meal (or three-courses on non-Feb. 14 seatings). Choose between lobster bisque or French onion soup Lyonnaise for starters. Entrées include of rack of veal Oscar, duck breast with raspberry hoisen sauce, Chilean sea bass with yellow tomato coulis and cilantro-orange sauce, or Châteaubriand and lobster tail. The "For Lovers Only" dessert is, as always, a surprise. Seatings are every 15 minutes between 5 and 9 p.m. on Feb. 14 at a cost of $55 per guest, or $75 per guest with wine pairings. Dinner on non-Feb. 14 days costs $48 per person, or $68 per person with wine pairings.
Tastes of Passion
2031 Mountain NW, 766-5100
If you can't make it out on Valentine's Day, Season's offers a special oyster tasting every Thursday night. (Can you say "aphrodisiac?") Come V-Day, they'll offer their regular menu in the main dining area, along with a selection of á la carte Valentine's Day specials. Or, reserve a table in the Magnum room for a chef's tasting dinner at $70 per person. The four-course dinner is paired with wine, and starts with a cheese-stuffed potato gnocchi amuse. Three distinctive salads include matchstick fuji apples and arugula greens with baby frisée, golden raisins, dry jack cheese and white balsamic vinegar. Entrée choices range from pan-roasted quail with grilled apple and smoked bacon risotto to seared Hawaiian kajiki in a spicy scallion miso broth to grilled bison hanger steak with foie gras-enriched demi-glace. Finish yourselves off on a warm chocolate bread pudding with whipped cream and toasted almond toffee or poached pear and pine nut baklava with espresso ice cream. Thrilling!
Up All Night
3009 Central NE, 254-ZINC (9462)
You can celebrate your love a little longer in Zinc's main dining room, which will happily feature extended hours from 4 to 11 p.m. on Feb. 14. Look forward to their regular menu along with extensive specials.
If that weren't enough, there's always Valentine's Day in the Cellar. You'll get live music at both the 5:30 and 8:30 p.m. seatings, with the entertainment continuing until 12:30 a.m. The Cellar will be smoke-free until 10 p.m.
Or if you'd rather stay away from the crowds on the big day, Zinc will offer their four-course Valentine's dinner beginning on Thursday, Feb. 9, from 5 to 9 p.m. each night. Cost for the prix fixe is $60 per person with wine pairings, or $40 per person without wine.
Wherever you end up, you'll get to choose between a seafood sampler plate for two, onion soup gratinée, crispy duck eggroll or smoked trout and potato pancake for your appetizer. Second course consists of Caesar salad or a baked brie empanada on blood oranges. For an entrée, you'll have your pick of sliced beef tenderloin, chicken paillard Marsala, broiled sole picatta, or a surf and turf platter for two. Dessert is a decadent “abuelita” chocolate crème brûlée.
The Sweetheart Special
St. James Tea Room
901 Rio Grande NW, 242-3752
Bring your baby in between Feb. 9 and Feb. 18 for any of the St. James Tea Room's regularly scheduled tea times (11 a.m., 1:30 and 4 p.m., plus 6:30 p.m. on Fridays), and double your romance for just a few dollars more. For an additional $16 per couple, you'll receive two red roses in a vase, romantic poetry and a photograph of your time spent at the tea room. Base prices range from $25 per person to $33 per person before the additional Sweetheart charge.
Perfect for Newlyweds
St. Clair Winery
901 Rio Grande NW, 243-9916
The prix-fixe dinner at St. Clair Winery and Bistro is the best value we've seen yet at just $45 per couple. (That's per couple, not person.) Four courses include an appetizer (try the baked brie and piñon nut pesto), a selection of soup or composed salad for two, and your choice of five entrées. There's grilled salmon with lemon-caper buerre blanc, coq au vin, beef tenderloin with a creamy St. Clair Merlot sauce, seafood portofino and portabello mushroom parmigiana—a little something for everyone! For dessert, you and your sweetie can split a slice of chocolate ganache cake, warmed caramel apple pie or bread pudding.
Graze by Jennifer James
3128 Central SE, 268-4729
At Graze, Valentine's Day actually starts on Sunday, Feb. 12, with a lover's brunch until 3 p.m. $35 per person buys you three plates of whatever your heart desires—there's homemade cinnamon rolls, grilled tiger shrimp with chipotle hollandaise, cardomom pancakes, masa crêpes stuffed with honey-ancho veggies, steak and eggs, tuna tartar, cured salmon with house-made mini-bagels and more. Of course, there'll be lots of bubbly stuff, bloody Marys and fresh fruit margaritas to sip from.
Then on Monday and Tuesday, Graze will offer a five-course, $75 menu from 5 p.m. until close. Details weren't available at press time. Log on to www.grazejj.com for more details.