While many eateries stick with the tried and true on Valentine's Day, a growing number are showing some real ingenuity, letting the day become a celebration of culinary daring or promotional savvy. It's all about recognizing America's growing appetite for all things gourmet and distinguishing your establishment from the surf-and-turf-obsessed competition.
Here's a coast-to-coast survey of what 10 smart-minded establishments are offering this Valentine's Day.
Dinner in Bed
Yes, instead of breakfast in bed, how about enjoying your evening meal in romantic style? That's what Miami Beach's B.E.D. -- short for beverage, entertainment and dining -- promises. Its "Get in Bed on the First Date" package ($300 per couple) features a seven-course tapas-style meal, plus a bottle of Moet rose champagne, all served on a bed covered in rose petals.
Want some privacy? The beds can be closed off with flowing curtains.
B.E.D., 929 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach; (305) 532-9070
Chocolate as Nature
That's the theme of the Langham Hotel Boston's Chocolate Bar, a feature on most Saturdays throughout the year. (For Valentine's Day week, it will be offered on Saturday, Feb. 16, but that's close enough for us.)Executive Pastry Chef Alejandro Luna features chocolate stations designed around the four elements: air (aroma of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies wafting through the air), fire (anything fried to a crispy turn, such as a chocolate spring roll), water (chocolate fountain) and earth (chocolate with the "fruits" of the earth -- namely, nuts and fruits). Various special effects -- dry ice, a faux flame machine -- and other chocolate specialties add to the appeal of the lunchtime all-dessert feast, which is priced at $35 ($17.50 for children).
Langham Hotel Boston, 250 Franklin Street, Boston; (617) 451-1900
A Sinful Meal
Leatherby's Café Rouge in Costa Mesa, Calif. (located within the Orange County Performing Arts Center), is creating its Feb. 14 meal ($65 per person) around a "Seven Delicious Sins" theme.
The "gluttony" course is an indulgent appetizer of Hudson Valley foie gras with caramelized strawberries and aged balsamic vinegar, while the "greed" one is beef and more beef (filet mignon and short ribs on a single plate).