Valentine's Day Dining Guide 2018

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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:

Margeaux Brasserie
Margeaux Brasserie


Margeaux Brasserie: Seeing as this Gold Coast stunner is an homage to Paris, the City of Love, it makes for an especially apt spot to celebrate such a holiday. The French restaurant is offering a special menu for Valentine’s Day, along with the previous Saturday (February 10) and the following Friday and Saturday (February 16 and 17). It starts with a glass of bubbly from the Champagne cart, followed by escargots, duck wings a l’orange, or steak frites. Then there are shareable specials as well, such as a shellfish plateau with Hawaiian big-eye tuna crudo, chilled prawns, chilled lobster, oysters and king crab remoulade. There’s also lobster Thermidor and prime chateauxbriand with black truffle pommes puree for those who like to live lavishly. 

Cindy’s: One of the most popular downtown bars with one of the singularly best views in town also happens to have one of the best Valentine’s Day promos going on this year, in the form of an offbeat pop-up in the Chicago Athletic Association’s Madison St. pop-up space. For February 13 and February 14, Cindy’s is operating a Greco-Roman inspired patisserie called Bows and Eros, featuring an array of chocolates and sweets by pastry chef Jove Hubbard. Everything from macarons and bonbons to chocolate bark and white hot chocolate will all be on hand, from 2:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. both days. 

Formento’s: Thanks to movies like Lady & the Tramp, pasta-centric Italian food is synonymous with romance. And few places capture that essence quite like Formento’s, which will have a handful of alluring specials on deck for Valentine’s Day this year. All ideal for sharing, these items include tuna crudo with pomegranate and fennel, duck confit risotto with black truffles and oyster mushrooms, ora king salmon with purple potato gnocchi, a 20-oz. prime dry-aged rib-eye grilled over maple, and chicken Parmesan with marinara and fresh mozzarella. 

Band of Bohemia: There’s plenty of opportunity to partake in Band of Bohemia’s special three-course prix fixe this year, served nightly from February 10 through February 17. The massive, whimsical, gorgeous restaurant provides fitting ambience for leaving a good impression, while the romance-inspired specials (e.g. milk-braised suckling pig, prime rib and chocolate pot de creme) will do the rest. 

The Dearborn: From filet mignon and lobster to chocolate, aphrodisiacs are the name of the game at The Dearborn this year, where a special menu will be served February 14 through February 18. Available in a prix fixe format or as a la carte specials, dishes include chilled lobster salad for an appetizer, entree choices of pan-fried whole dorade or filet mignon with lobster and tarragon-truffle bearnaise, and a chocolate-raspberry confection with dark chocolate ganache, browine, sorbet and raspberry bonbon for dessert. 

Boka: Always a show-stopper, no matter the occasion, Boka is serving a beautiful six-course spread for Valentine’s Day. Expect plenty of pomp, circumstance, contemporary cookery and elegant presentations, with optional wine pairings along the way. The cost for the tasting is $130 per person, plus an additional $55 for wines. 

Bistronomic: The Gold Coast’s quintessential French bastion maintains its reputation as one of the most reliable restaurants for a solid, accessible holiday meal. For Valentine’s Day, that means a three-course tasting menu for $85 per person, with Parisian-inspired delicacies like handmade lobster ravioli with leek marmalade, haricots verts salad with port-dried cherries and toasted hazelnuts; and passion fruit meringue tart with pineapple confit.