Like us on Facebook!

David Lissner
for restaurants

14 uncommon ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day 2012

TL's “I Love You” maki.

TL's “I Love You” maki.

Just about every restaurant in Chicago does Valentine’s Day, even White Castle, so how’s a lover to choose?

Most restaurants are serving special Valentine menus, love-themed libations and various perks to entice you in their doors. With V-Day falling on Tuesday, celebrations have already begun, and a variety of events and specials run through the weekend till Feb. 14.

We’ve winnowed through hundreds of offerings to present this short list of some of the more interesting Valentine events. Reservations are always a good idea, and some places may be offering only a limited menu on Valentine’s Day, so call ahead to be sure.

  1. Deca Restaurant on the Magnificent Mile wants to teach you how to make whoopie &mdash pies, that is. A hands-on cooking class on how to make the sandwich pies and their cream filling in several flavors takes place at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 11, and Tuesday, Feb. 14. Passed hors d’oeuvres and a glass of champagne before the class are included in the $25 per person or $40 per couple price. Reservations required.

  2. Franklin Tap in the Loop, noting that for some, beer is their one true love, offers four Valentine’s Day beer specials from 11 a.m. to midnight Tuesday, including $3 Miller Highlife (the “champagne” of beers), $4 Young’s Double Chocolate Stout and $5 Timmermans Strawberry Lambic, plus Lisa Selman’s “Chocolate Covered Strawberries” drink — a pint of Timmermans Strawberry Lambic floated with Young’s Double Chocolate Stout, $5.

  3. Prairie Grass Cafe in Northbrook hosts a family Valentine’s Day, Monday, Feb. 13. Children coming in for dinner can decorate cookies for their parents. Each child will receive three heart-shaped cookies — one to eat and two to give away — to decorate with Prairie Grass’s house-made, all-natural frosting plus a card to decorate and a presentation box for just $14. On the 14th, offerings for adults include a special cocktail and “Mom’s Cherry Pie,” featuring Door County sour cherries, $7.50.

  4. Kit Kat Lounge & Supper Club in Northalsted, hosts a “Stupid Cupid” singles party on Monday, Feb. 13. Enjoy a 50-percent discount on your bill while mingling with potential mates and sharing “Cupid” martinis — 32-ounces of Cruzan flavored rums and fruit juices with a champagne float (complete with magic wand, $15), a concoction that will surely help you love the one you’re with. From Feb. 10 to 14, a four-course Valentine’s Day menu ($45 per person, plus tax and gratuity) includes the “Love Potions of the Gods” martini of your choice. Traci Ross performs.

  5. The French Pastry School offers you and your lover a chance to learn to make classic French desserts with an amorous twist in its three-day Valentine’s Experience led by sugar artist Mark Seaman, 4 to 9 p.m. Feb. 14 to 16, $575.

  6. Henri in the Loop will present modern takes on ancient aphrodisiacs, such as oysters with basil, cafe mignonette, horseradish cream and chili ($18); salad of quail with endives, poached egg yolk, shaved truffle and Xeres vinaigrette ($16); roasted loin of Hawaiian ono with roasted onions, carrots, salsify and basil sauce ($33); and chateaubriand of venison loin, baby roots and Gran Veneur ($85 for two).

  7. TL’s Four Seasons in downtown Barlett offers heart-shaped maki Feb 10 through 14. Chef Shawn Li’s “I Love You” roll features spicy tuna and avocado wrapped in tuna sashimi, $16.

  8. Chicago Parks offer a variety of family-oriented Valentine events, including:

    • Daddy/Daughter Valentine Dance, 5:30–7:30 p.m Monday, Feb. 13, .Skinner Park, 1331 W. Monroe St., (312) 746-5560, $5, ages 2–5.
    • Valentine’s Day Dance, 10 a.m.–12 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 14, Daley Bicentennial Plaza, 337 E. Randolph St., (312) 742-7649, $10 per family, ages 2–5.
    • Valentine’s Day Dance, 3 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 14, Cole Park, 361 E. 85th St., (312) 747-6063, $3, ages 9–17.
    • Valentine’s Day Dance, 3–6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 14, Kennicott Park, 4434 S. Lake Park Ave., (312) 747-7138, $5, ages 6–12.
    • Valentine’s Day Party, 4–5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 14, Cornell Square Park, 1809 W. 50th St., (312) 747-6097, $1, ages 6–12.
    • Family Valentine’s Dance, 6:30–8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 14, Eugene Field Park, 5100 N. Ridgeway Ave., (773) 478-9744, $4, all ages.
    • Daddy-Daughter/Mother-Son Valentine Dance, 6:30–8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 14, Mayfair Park, 4550 W. Sunnyside Ave., (773) 685-3361, $4, all ages.
  9. Eduardo’s Enoteca on the Gold Coast hosts “A Night of Romance: Drinks, Dinner & a Movie,” with three seatings (5, 7 and 9:30 p.m.) Tuesday. Dinner features a cola-inspired cocktail and truffle-parmigiano popcorn, a bottle of boutique wine, crostinis, salad, handmade pasta or Neapolitan-style pizza and dessert with a projection screening of a classic, romantic film “Annie Hall” or “Roman Holiday.” They’ll send you home with a bottle of Prosecco to continue the romance at home. The evening is $55 per person, with an optional wine upgrade available for $35 more.

  10. Big Bowl, all locations, salutes Valentine’s Day through Feb. 16 with red-hot specials such as hand-made fiery shrimp dumplings filled with Gulf shrimp and pork and sauced with Thai chiles, rice vinegar, ginger, toasted sesame oil and soy; kung pao chicken buried in-chilies; hot chocolate mousse with an infusion of Asian chilies and more.

  11. Native Foods Cafe in Wicker Park caters to your vegan Valentine with Caesar salad, plant-based lasagna and vegan tiramisu.

  12. Logan Square Kitchen hosts its third annual Valentine’s Day Pastry Market, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11, and Sunday, Feb. 12, featuring sustainable, small-batch, pastry, cake, ice cream, confections and culinary gift items. Shop for your Valentine or enjoy sweets with coffee, warm cider or hand-crafted cocktails. Participating vendors include Celestial Kitchens, Fritz Pastry, Mayana Chocolate, Mess Hall & Co. (preserves, mustards and cherries), Puffs of Doom, Salted Caramel, Rue de la Patisserie (New Orleans style beignets, bagels amd candy), Through the Liquor Glass (custom curated cocktails and recipes), Tushiya Sweets & Treats and Veruca Chocolates.

  13. Mercadito in River North and its Double A lounge host “Single and Ready to Mingle” on Tuesday. Party with friends and strangers and a five-course sharing menu of guacamoles, botanas, ceviches and desserts. If you see someone who strikes your eye, ask your server to send a special admirer note with a tray of shots across the dining room, $55. At 7 p.m. Monday, couples can prepare for V-day by learning how to cook a four-course Valentine’s Day menu with paired cocktails, and then sampling it, $75 per person.

  14. Frontier in Bucktown puts the heart in Valentine’s Day with Chef Brian Jupiter’s four-course menu of beef, lamb and veal heart dishes such as beef-heart tartar, sugar-cane skewered lamb heart and more, Saturday through Tuesday, $30 per person or $50 per couple.