Love is love is love, but we all know that even the deepest, most profound love is vastly improved when accompanied by a candlelit dinner on Valentine’s Day. And maybe a dessert or two.
With Valentine’s Day falling mid-week this year, it also affords us the opportunity to stretch out the celebrations for a few days on either side, just in case you need a little extra time to make the perfect love connection. Plenty of restaurants across the area have all the right ingredients.
The Bombay Club (815 Connecticut Ave., N.W.): One of Washington’s long-established restaurants, the Bombay Club offers an elegant experience and a twist on traditional Valentine’s Day meals with a five-course $85 prix fixe menu. Start with the Asparagus Shorba, laced in pistachio and rose, then progress through Zafrani Shrimp, delicately spiced with saffron and cardamom, Banana Galouti served with a sweet preserve of plantain and pineapple, and wild boar with mustard, cumin and coriander. End it on a sweet note with dark chocolate fondant with pistachio kulfi.
City Tap Penn Quarter (901 9th St., N.W.): Offering a playful “Cupid is Stupid” menu that features food we might not order on a first date because we’re too concerned with impressing our companion — just throw those rules out of the window this year. Go ahead and fill up on waffles topped with fried chicken or short rib poutine, fried banana split and plenty of interesting draft beers, such as Lizard of Koz and Founder’s Fruitwood.
Moishe House D.C. (1453 Harvard St., N.W.): OK, so this one will seem a little odd, but for those of us who are gripped by activism these days, consider checking out the Syrian Sweets Soirée, when Moishe House D.C. (a kind of cultural club for Jewish 20-somethings) will open its doors on Sunday, Feb. 16 to celebrate the sweet foods of Syria, raising both awareness about the Syrian refugee crisis and funds for the Syrian American Council. It’s a good way to combine your social conscience with your social life.
nopa Kitchen+Bar (800 F St., N.W.): Start off the $75 three-course special menu with a complimentary glass of sparkling rosé, then move on to an array of chef Matt Kuhn’s starters, from Chiogga beet and blood orange salad with citrus yogurt to braised Wagyu beef cheek with truffled polenta. Main course choices include a rather decadent ribeye served with fingerling potatoes, quail’s egg, butter poached lobster and a red wine lobster jus, as well as pan-roasted salmon, farro and quinoa risotto, and black spaghetti with Calabrian chili, stone crab, uni and tarragon. Desserts include sticky toffee pudding with candied bacon and a chocolate hazelnut dacquoise.
The Oval Room (800 Connecticut Ave., N.W.): Make an impression on your date at one of D.C.’s classic restaurants, where chef John Melfi’s $85 three-course Valentine’s Day menu ($125 with wine pairings) starts off with oysters and caviar with a champagne sabayon, followed by choices such as butter poached lobster, braised lamb shank and oxtail ravioli. End the meal with the dessert sampler, featuring pomegranate and rose hip sorbet, flourless chocolate cake and buttermilk panna cotta.
Ripple (3417 Connecticut Ave., N.W.): Now a mainstay of Cleveland Park, Ripple made its mark under the direction of chef Marjorie Meek-Bradley and is now being guided by new executive chef Ryan Ratino, who is already making the menu his own. The $90 per person prix fixe offerings include oysters served with a sea bean mignonette, aged pheasant for two, and a refreshing citrus ambrosia for a light finish.
Via Umbria (1525 Wisconsin Ave., N.W.): This Italian market and café has a variety of offerings throughout mid-February for couples to explore in the upstairs Laboratorio Kitchen. From Feb. 9-11, reserve seats at the communal table for the Italian Dinner Party at $75 per person, where crostini misti and carpaccio di bresaola will be served family style, followed by housemade gnocchi, Umbrian roasted pork loin and a dark chocolate and caramelized banana tartine. On Valentine’s Day itself, Via Umbria will be offering a couple’s cocktail class featuring five themed craft cocktails for just $35 per person.
Le Chat Noir Restaurant & Wine Bar (4907 Wisconsin Ave., N.W.) is offering a three-course Valentine’s Day dinner with rose and chocolate.
Le Grenier: the French on H (502 H St., N.E.) offers a space to enjoy French cuisine with a great wine selection and craft cocktails in a vintage attic-type decor with cozy atmosphere.
Kristen Hartke is a food and beverage writer based in D.C. Follow her kitchen adventures on Instagram, @kristenhartke.