The stakes are higher on Valentine’s Day.
That’s not an endorsement of the holiday, mind you — it’s a statement of the facts. By fiat, we’re supposed to pull some kind of romantic rabbit out of a hat, our moods, resources, and other preferences notwithstanding.
Fortunately, this is precisely the sort of problem that creative restaurants and merchants live to solve. If you are in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, you’ve got options.
At the top of our list is a dinner that brings together a few components that we’re always pleased to tout: the culinary firepower of Chef J.D. Fratzke (who designed this menu), the easygoing excellence of beer stronghold Republic, and the artisan brews of Fulton Beer. For $38 (!), you’ll dine from 5-10 p.m. as follows:
SOCIAL — baguette, olives, and butter — paired with Lonely Blonde
SOUP — celery root and black truffle bisque — paired with Standard Lager
SALAD — broiled baby carrots with honey vinaigrette and brie — paired with 300 IPA
ENTREES — paired with Culture Project #1:
pork loin au lait with braised spinach and caramelized onion
roasted trout with winter squash and sauce citron
vegetable ragout with fried polenta
LE SWEET – Chocolate custard with creme chantilly, cocoa nibs, and Luxardo cherries — paired with War and Peace
This is a stupid good value. Reservations at republicmn.com.
The Kenwood is doing a three-course prix fixe for $55 a guest with optional wine pairings. We can’t say enough good stuff about Chef Don Saunders (above). He dials it in every time. Seatings are at 5:30 and 8 p.m., and check out this first course: a beet veloute with creme fraiche and tarragon-smoked salmon mousseline with cucumber, dill, and roe. Call 612.377.3695 for reservations.
The St. Croix Chocolate Company regularly elevates chocolate into art, so if you’re looking for treats that go above and beyond, this is a good place to start. The artfully decorated chocolate heart box (pictured top) is $7 for the 2-by-2-inch size and $10 for the 5-by-5-inch, and it’s a perfect vehicle for another little something special.
Elsewhere on the chocolates front, B.T. McElrath has a chocolate gift set, normally $36, on sale for $14, which is thrifty as the dickens. And Chocolat Celeste is introducing a new collection for Valentine’s Day featuring raspberry habanero, 64%, blood orange, 74%, ginger citrus, whiskey, and praline.
The independent-producer-focused wine shop Henry and Son has a detail-rich post on its blog about wines that pair beautifully with love. Owner Gretchen Skedsvold also writes, “We’re refreshing our 12 Under $12 rack to feature cheap rose wines in honor of Valentine’s Day.”
The Cafe Alma Bar is offering a special Valentine’s Day menu that includes a couple of cocktails by the Bittercube crew. The Old Fashioned Love features Copper & Kings aged brandy, beet syrup, hibiscus-infused Orange Bitters, and chocolate truffles; the Lover’s Carvings is made with Abyss gin, candied rose syrup, Meyer’s Lemon, sparkling rosé, and Bolivar Bitters.
If you’ve got $143 lying around, grab two burgers, two orders of fries, and a bottle of Dom Perignon at Burger Jones. “The Dom is at our cost!” writes Kip Clayton, Parasole’s vice president of marketing.
More affordable than burgers and Dom is the Minnesota Opera Valentine’s Day dinner and live performance at The Dakota. It’s an evening of 20th-century American love songs, featuring (as per the press release) “music by composer William Bolcom, including a preview of Dinner At Eight, his new opera with librettist Mark Campbell, based on the play by George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber. Soprano Bergen Baker will be performing a selection from the opera, which will see its world premiere with Minnesota Opera in March.” The dinner is at 6 p.m. It’s $110 a seat and includes some high-rolling tastes like veal aspic, crab Newburg, and leg of duck (there’s also a vegetarian selection).
We’re all about keeping it real and cooking (or baking) your own V-Day experience for the loved one of your choosing, and Nordic Ware is right on target with these two ideas. First, the 12-cup capacity Tiered Heart Bundt pan is right on the money for a celebratory mid-February dessert.
And the Conversation Heart Baking Pan bangs out adorable cakelets six at a time. Why eat a slice of dessert when you can eat an entire frosted cake? Or two? Or possibly three?
Draft Horse just killed it on a pre-Febgiving dinner that we attended this month, so we’re pleased to talk up their Local Lovers Valentine’s Dinner with Dangerous Man and Modist Brewing. It’s a six-course dinner with beer pairings on Feb. 14 from 7-10 p.m., and is $75+tax per person.
Red Stag‘s Cheap Date Night is a mere $36 a couple and features two entrees, dessert and a bottle of wine or a few beers. Hidden Stream Farm St. Louis ribs with baked potato, slaw, and peach barbecue sauce is your meaty entree; the vegetarian option is roasted vegetable lasagna. Reservations available by calling 612.767.7766 or through OpenTable.
The adorable Broders’ mini-empire is doing V-Day three ways: $50 three-course prix fixe reservations at Terzo, last-minute, no-reservation dining at the Pasta Bar, and a special Cucina takeout-and-reheat dinner for two for $43 (call 612.925.3113 x4 to preorder for pickup on the 14th).