In a year of unprecedented firsts, it only seems fitting that now we have to figure out what to do for Valentine’s Day.
Is it just me, or is pandemic Valentine’s Day the ultimate of oxymorons?
Will we send Zoom greetings to avoid hugs, or have chocolate and flowers delivered rather than present them in person?
And how about that annual date night couples look forward to, where dinner is served in courses and there isn’t a pot or pan to be scoured at home?
Annual surveys released last week by the National Retail Federation and the finance Web site WalletHub predict spending will be down this Valentine’s Day, after reaching a stunning peak just last year at this time. Folks worried in tandem about budgets and virus transmission will spend about $164 on average, down from about $196 on the holiday last year.
The good news is that despite the pandemic, we can still make the day festive, lovey, and quite delicious, while keeping some of our spending local by supporting local restaurants. For this week’s column, I went looking for a round-up of all the V-Day gustatory greats restaurants are planning this week.
Plan now to order dinner for two, dine out, or just pick on take-out hors d’oeuvres crafted by chefs in their kitchens – instead of you and your honey in your quarantine-fatigued kitchen.
- Mimi’s Market & Café chef Carl Drake is preparing a full Valentine’s Day meal to go, featuring entrees and desserts made in-house. Choose from things like beef Wellington for two, a portobella Napoleon or chicken roulade, then end the meal with chocolate mousse, lemon curd or sticky toffee pudding. Entrée and dessert are $34 per person and should be ordered by 3 p.m. Feb. 11. (184 E. Evergreen Ave., 215-420-4334.)
- Iron Hill Brewery and Restaurant will offer several special Valentine’s Day entrees, including a surf and turf option with strip steak and jumbo shrimp, fingerling potatoes and swiss chard, $28. Or choose sea scallops with basmati rice topped with frazzled onions in a roasted tomato vinaigrette, $27, as well as a filet with mashed potatoes, broccolini and a Madeira wine sauce, $28. Dessert will feature a chocolate molten lava cake with strawberries. If you order two entrees to dine-in or to-go, you can bundle the package for $60, which will include dessert. For those who dine in, there will be a new wine list with pairings for the meal. For those who want to dine at home, the restaurant is featuring a heart-shaped pizza kit for parents and kids, $20. (8400 Germantown Ave., 215-948-5600.)
- Tavern on the Hill, which has not yet reopened for indoor dining, is offering pick up or delivery only for a tasty dinner for two priced at $110 from Friday through Sunday. Choose from a soup or salad, then feast on filet mignon with portobella mushroom sauce or a broiled lobster tail with grilled asparagus and a rice pilaf. Top it off with an in-house dessert like raspberry brownie parfait, warm apple dumpling or pound cake with whipped cream and strawberries. They throw in two splits of Prosecco to seal the meal deal. (8636 Germantown Ave., 215-247-9948.)
- Chestnut Hill Grill & Sidewalk Café will also celebrate the whole weekend long with two dinner specials. Chef John Arena will make crab cakes with fresh corn sauce and grilled asparagus, as well as a petite filet mignonette with mushroom ragout, sauteed spinach and mashed potatoes. Each are $24. They’ve also concocted a Cupid’s Arrow drink special made with Tangueray gin, elderflower liqueur, strawberry puree, lemon juice and Prosecco, $10. (8229 Germantown Ave., 215-247-7570.)
- McNally’s is big on Valentine’s Day drinks, with hot chocolates, hot toddies and hot mulled ciders. If you buy one of the specialty drinks, you’ll get a free McNally’s “turtle,” a fleecy accessory that can be worn as a face mask or a hat. The cowls have been specially embroidered by Threadwell to read “McNally’s Polar Bear Pub.”
- Jansen chef David Jansen will offer a four-course meal available for take-out, which includes a bottle of wine paired by the sommelier for $200. Some of his most coveted entrees will be available, from duck confit to poached Maine lobster. He even has a “Menage a Mousse” for dessert, a brownie served with three types of chocolate mousse. Order for a Valentine’s Day pickup between 5 and 8 p.m. (7402 Germantown Ave., 267-335-5041.)
- All the Way Live, Chestnut Hill’s resident vegan cafe, has a special that includes a choice of either two veggie burgers or two small entrée platters, two drinks and two soups for only $40. (8419 Germantown Ave., 215-242-2250.)