The heart and the stomach are inextricably linked, and in no way is this more evident than with the mad dash for Valentine's Day reservations. The National Restaurant Association estimates that each year, about 70 million Americans mark the holiday in a restaurant.
Here's our guide to Valentine's Day options in Broward and Palm Beach counties, with everything from lavish digs to do-it-yourself romance. V-Day is next week, dudes. Time to get cracking.
You crapped out on the Christmas gift. You said that thing about her sister (again). You Facebooked that photo of him at the midnight screening of Twilight. Whatever the transgression, these are some no-holds-barred Valentine's Day solutions. They don't come cheap, though.
Café Boulud, at the Brazilian Court Hotel, 301 Australian Ave., Palm Beach. Seatings are available from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Thursday, February 14. 561-655-6060, danielnyc.com/cafebouludpb.com. Executive chef Jim Leiken takes a creative approach to his Valentine's specials. Two tasting menus — one "for her" and the other "for him" — offer different takes on the same basic principles: canapés, foie gras, a savory main course, and dessert by pastry chef Arnaud Chavigny. Entrée choices are suitably indulgent, with a duo of beef or sautéed duck breast. The tony surroundings come with an equally posh price tag of $105 per person, plus an additional $65 per couple to include the foie gras course.
SAIA and B Ocean Fort Lauderdale, 999 N. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. The special is good for stays over Thursday, February 14. 954-564-1000, bhotelsandresorts.com. Ship the kids off to Grandma's for the night and book a stay with the hotel's "B Mine" promotion. The offer includes a king room with an ocean view, a "Kit and Caboodle" romance kit, and chocolate-covered strawberries. A special five-course prix fixe dinner for two at SAIA — the hotel's stylish Asian restaurant — is included, as is a glass of champagne or moonstone sake with the meal. Add-ons include a 90-minute couple's massage and tea bath ($250, plus tax and tip) and a beach package with hot cocoa, beach mat, and binoculars to stargaze ($75). The cost is $379 plus tax when using the "B Mine" offer code at checkout.
Love in the Park. Huizenga Plaza, 32 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Seatings are 5:30 to 10 p.m. Thursday, February 14. 954-468-1541; loveinthepark.info. Take advantage of Fort Lauderdale's awesome February weather with the second-annual Love in the Park. Couples dine al fresco on a meal created by Publix Aprons chefs and can participate in a winetasting by Tuscany Wines. Each couple also gets a bottle of wine to share. Miami singer/songwriter Cat Shell will be belting out R&B and jazz neo-soul as a soundtrack to the dinner and dancing. Save a few bucks and go with BYOB (bring your own blanket or chairs) picnic-style seating, or spring for VIP, which features tables, chairs, and a take-home gift. Tickets for two cost $80 for general seating and $125 for the VIP experience. A portion of the proceeds benefits Riverwalk Fort Lauderdale.
You're not looking to reinvent the wheel here, just to get a solid meal, with nice ambiance and a little wine to set the mood. These choices range from superthrifty to "we're going to be eating ramen for the rest of the month."
Casablanca Café, 3049 Alhambra St., Fort Lauderdale. 954-764-3500; casablancacafeonline.com. This is a romantic date-night standby for many a local. A café employee said they "treat Valentine's Day like a regular night." Get a table outside and enjoy the view of the Atlantic Ocean, or head indoors and snuggle up in the candlelit dining room in the Mediterranean-style building.
Market 17, 1850 SE 17th St., Fort Lauderdale. Open 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. on Thursday, February 14. 954-835-5507; market17.net. Market 17 reigns as one of the chief destinations for farm-to-table fare in the county. Its wine selection is nothing to sneeze at, and the variety of dining options (outdoors, indoors, or in the dark) means there's something to suit every couple's tastes. On V-Day, there's a special menu for couples.
Casa D'Angelo, 1201 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale. 954-564-1234; casa-d-angelo.com. Chef Angelo Elia's restaurant empire has grown in recent years, but the flagship in Fort Lauderdale remains one of the tastiest ways to impress a dinner date. A classic Tuscan menu, an overwhelming array of Italian wines, and an inviting atmosphere help to knock it out of the park. A spokesperson told us that there will be "about 20 specials" on V-Day but that "it's always special at Casa D'Angelo."
Olive Garden. Various locations. olivegarden.com. All the food snobs can suck it. While they're feigning excitement over a $35 thimble-sized portion of foamy quail eggs, you and your honey will be saying "Yes, please!" to a sixth helping of buttery bread sticks. The restaurant's three-course Italian dinner promotion is $12.95 per person and includes unlimited salad or soup (plus those aforementioned carb bombs), a pasta main dish, and dessert. Who needs foodie cred?
Creativity is an aphrodisiac. Set his or her pulse racing with an unexpected approach to the holiday.
Tap 42, 1411 S. Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Open 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday, February 14. 954-463-4900; tap42.com.
World of Beer — Coconut Creek, 4437 Lyons Rd., Coconut Creek. Open until 1 a.m. Thursday, February 14. 954-984-0300; worldofbeerusa.com.
If your lover loves good beer, treat them to an evening of craft brew. On V-day, Tap 42 will focus on fruit- and chocolate-inspired brews, with selections that include Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, Terrapin Moo-Hoo Chocolate Milk Stout, and Thomas Creek Chocolate Orange IPA, among others. These will be paired with special desserts, including some that incorporate the beer in the recipe. Meanwhile, World of Beer will host "A Rogue Valentine's Day" with special brews from Rogue Brewery, like Rogue Chocolate Stout and Rogue Double Chocolate Stout.
PICNIC ON THE BEACH
Why pay top dollar for a table with a beach view when you can cut out the middleman and go straight to the source. Picnic-friendly beaches from Hollywood to Lake Worth provide the perfect setting; you provide the wares. Start with a nice, heavy blanket and a quality picnic kit: the Picnic Time Malibu insulated cooler picnic tote with service for two ($71.08 on Amazon.com; available with one-day shipping) comes with a shoulder strap, reusable plates, acrylic wineglasses, flatware, and cotton napkins, plus special compartments for two bottles. On the topic of booze: Technically speaking, alcohol consumption on the beach is generally a no-no. If you're going to be naughty, leave the glass at home. Homemade sangria carried in a Thermos looks a lot like fruit juice. Just saying. Make the lunch yourself, or swing by Cheese Culture (813 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale) and get an assortment of cheese and charcuterie to go.
Cupcake Couture, 328 E. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach. Open noon to 10 p.m. 561-276-2334; cupcakecoutureusa.com.
Sugar Mama Sweets, Delray Beach. 954-903-7080; facebook.com/sugarmamasweets.
To the Moon Marketplace, 2205 Wilton Drive, Wilton Manors. Open 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. 954-564-2987; tothemoonmarketplace.com.
Le Macaron French Pastries, E. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach. 561-266-3860.
Screw dinner and get straight to dessert with an array of locally made (or purchased) sweets. Cupcake Couture will offer heart-shaped boxes filled with micro-mini cupcakes in Valentine's Day colors as well as rose-shaped cupcakes and regular cupcakes in holiday-appropriate colors. Sugar Mama Sweets will take custom orders for holiday-centric creations like pink, white, and red heart-shaped cookies ($30 for 15 to 20 cookies). To the Moon Marketplace, meanwhile, carries a mix of exotic candies, novelties, and treats, like Cherry Ripe, Arnott's TimTam, and Violet Crumble. Finally, the recently opened Le Macaron specializes in French cookies and chocolates that are just about too gorgeous to eat and too delicious to resist.
5 Points Lounge, 2608 S. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale. 9 p.m. to close on Thursday, February 14. 305-803-9014; 5pointslounge.wordpress.com.
If all this lovey-dovey bullshit is too much to stomach, 5 Points Lounge will be all booze and loud music with its Anti-Valentine's Day Party. The Wholetones and Askultura will headline, and drink specials include $3 Yuengling and bleeding-heart sangria. On Friday (February 15), the bar will host "My Furry Valentine," starring the hairy, all-male cast of Hurly-Burly Burlesque. That party is at 9:30 p.m., with a $5 cover.