The most romantic day of the year is coming up, which means one of the biggest days for dining out and trying to impress your loved one. Fortunately, Chicago is filled with fresh dining options and ideas that won’t make the holiday tradition feel like an expensive chore. Here are several places to put on your romantic radar this year:
III Forks Prime Steakhouse: The 2017 "Sweetheart Menu" at this downtown stunner is a three-course tasting for two available February 10 through February 14, so you've got plenty of opportunity to partake. First, guests choose between the signature III Forks salad or lobster bisque, followed by a surf and turf combo of two filet mignons and two lobster tails. A chocolate-lovers treat is for dessert. The menu is $170 per couple, with optional sparkling wine selections as supplements.
Floriole Cafe & Bakery: It doesn’t always take a lavish dinner out to impress your partner. Sometimes a sweet little gift is best. In which case, you should head over to Floriole Cafe & Bakery, which is baking up special sweet treats for the holiday, ideal for surprising your loved one on Valentine’s Day. Available throughout February, items include chocolate caneles, conversation heart cookies, heart-shaped tarts, chocolate ganache cakes and chocolate mousse domes with satsuma marmalade.
The Violet Hour: One of Chicago’s most iconic cocktail bars is also one of the city’s most romantic. There’s just something about the clandestine entryway, the tall curtains, the dim glow of The Violet Hour that makes the cocktails that much more alluring. For the holiday, the bar will host two seatings for special holiday happenings. The first is a cocktail hour from 6:00 p.m. until 8:30 p.m., during which guests will get a welcome cocktail, followed by a menu of special cocktails and a dessert at the end. The second seating takes place from 9:00 p.m. until 11:30 p.m. During both events, there will be a Champagne bar cart roving around for guests to learn about making their ideal Champagne cocktail. Another adorable addition is stationary supplied on the tables so diners can write love letters together. Tickets for both seatings are $75, which includes drinks and dessert. Additional bites are a la carte. For tickets, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 773-252-1500.
312 Chicago: Red-colored pasta is the order of the day at 312 Chicago, which is thinking outside the heart-shaped box this year with a special Valentine’s Day menu focused on unique, rosy pastas and other romantic accents. In case you were curious, the pasta gets its red tint from beets. Dubbed the “Menu di San Valentino,” the three-course tastings feature dishes like beet ravioli stuffed with roasted pheasant, risotto with strawberries and lump crab meat, grilled hanger steak with Taleggio fondue and roasted beet dumplings and red velvet cake with strawberry sauce and cream cheese. The cost for the prix fixe is $55 per person, and for those who’d prefer to dine on Saturday, February 11, the restaurant will also be featuring select dishes as specials.
Cochon Volant Brasserie: There’s just something so innately romantic about a downtown brasserie. Case in point: Cochon Volant, which never fails to impress with its alluring setting and cozy, heartwarming French-accented cuisine. On Valentine’s Day, the Loop restaurant will be featuring specials like escargots with blue cheese and croutons, 72-hour rotisserie chicken with roasted tomato sauce an half-priced Moet Champagne by the glass or bottle.
Vermilion: For those who’d like to add a little more exoticism and spice to their Valentine’s Day itinerary, Vermilion is an apt choice. The enduring River North restaurant, which features a smart fusion of Latin and Indian cuisines, is serving up a special menu for the holiday called the “Sultry Red Eat Your Heart Out” prix fixe. As the name suggests, each dish is lush with red components, featuring five courses of eclectic preparations. These include a salad of beets, hearts of palm mousse, lobster, arugula, cumin, passion fruit vinaigrette and balsamic caviar; oysters with crimson pomegranate, lime and mint; red chimichurri New York strip steak or lamb shank with sweet potatoes and tomato rice; and “hedonism” chocolate cake with hibiscus sorbet and red candied rose petals. Reservations can be made by calling Vermilion or via OpenTable.
Brindille: Get in the Valentine’s Day spirit a little early with a trip to Brindille for Valentine’s Day Tea. The French afternoon tea service takes place February 10, with seatings from 2:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. Expect elegant sweet and savory bites by chef Carrie Nahabedian and pastry chef Craig Harzewski. The cost is $60 per person and makes for a wonderful couple’s date. RSVP by emailing email@example.com.