Sunday, February 10, 2008

The only thing Frank Bruni and I have in common...

What are you doing on Valentine's Day?
A prix fixe dinner at
Il Cielo is $225 per couple. that quite a few people ask us for dining advice. Unfortunately for Frank, many people ask him for recs for romantic places for Valentine's Day. But romance happens at the most unlikeliest times and places, not necessarily over a plate of $30 risotto under the fairy lights at Il Cielo. A friend once told me that the most romantic evening she had had with her husband was walking down to a taco truck on Sunset and scarfing carne asada in the parking lot, and walking back home hand in hand afterwards. Bruni's list of romantic places in New York didn't mention Picholine, where I once had a totally unplanned yet totally romantic dinner.
My advice is to never go to a good restaurant on Valentine's Day. Not only is it a ripoff, you won't be getting the best cooking, and it's not very original. If you don't feel like making your honey a sumptuous feast, here's some other ideas:
1) Order a Vito's pizza; lay in some pinot noir ahead of time. Try eating in bed if you don't mind getting the sheets greasy.
2) Gather up all your single friends and have a big Chinese banquet. Choose a Szechwan place, and maybe the endorphins from the peppers will lead to some impromptu romance.
3) Pick up some decent takeout sushi and a bottle of sake from Mitsuwa or Bristol Farms. Climb a hill with a view of the city at sunset. Feed tasty bits of tuna to each other if that's what you're into.
4) Skip dinner. Hit an old school bar -- maybe Boardner's or the Formosa. Or Irish coffee at the Tam O'Shanter. Let the demon rum do its thing.
I'm glad my readers ask for slightly more interesting advice than just where to go for Valentine's Day. Recently, I've answered a reader from San Francisco who wants to take her mom to lunch after shopping on Santee Alley (contemplated Tiara; settled on Daikokuya) and a writer from London who wants to explore what L.A. has to offer besides Pinkberry and raw foods. She was thrilled to hear that L.A. is famous for donuts and burgers as well as an incredible array of ethnic food. So feel free to send in your dining questions, and I'll attempt to answer them.


foodflirt90210 said...

I could not agree more! Avoid all Cliche restaurants unless you like mediocre food, poor service, and wasting $$. I usually cook a special dinner for my friends or man of the moment who never gets a home cooked meal!

kneejerk said...

spoken like people who couldn't get rez's or are just too lazy and settled into middle age...


oddlyme said...

Oh I feel so vindicated! I really don't want to do a huge night out - with everyone else's huge night out - it ends up pressured and icky.

Now you and Ed Levine of Serious Eats have addressed this very matter! Now I don't just feel sane, I feel a bit smug, to have two such minds on my side : )

We're going out for a quirky, quality happy hour and then simply home to relax!

Nina said...

Excellent recommendations, and I couldn't agree more about avoiding fancy restaurants on Valentine's Day-- or most holidays for that matter... usually harried, overpriced, and mediocre food. I made that costly mistake twice, and never will again.