You’ve already starting looking outside the heart-shaped chocolate box with our earlier suggestions for unusual-yet-romantic Valentine’s Day plans. The big day is near, so you could a) scramble to get a dinner reservation like every other procrastinator in Washington, or b) get moving on an alternate path.
Go Underground, or Pop Up
Love the idea of a romantic dinner out but not so much the love-day clichés? Check out the latest in underground dining at the chic Blagden Alley Social Club, hosted in the home of Good Wood owners Dan and Anna Kahoe. Recent Top Chef contestant Jeffrey Jew prepares the intimate, 14-person meal; dishes include caviar and lobster canapés, lamb tenderloin with Israeli couscous and mint-red wine demiglace, and chocolate peanut butter pot de crème. How it works, per Anna: “We pour generous drinks; you surrender.” E-mail email@example.com for reservations ($150 per person).
Those looking for something (way) more casual—and who don’t mind celebrating late—can head to Birch & Barley on February 15 or 22 for a pop-up of the upcoming GBD, the fried-chicken-and-doughnuts venture from Kyle Bailey and Tiffany MacIsaac. There are no reservations, and service runs from 11 AM until the fried deliciousness sells out, so grab your loved one early to ensure you don’t miss out.
Get Schooled (in a Sweet Way)
A culinary class is a great way to bond with the one you love. Try a chocolate, cheese, and Champagne tasting course at Righteous Cheese in Union Market, where fromager Carolyn Stromberg leads a small group through four cheeses paired with bubbly and chocolate accompaniments on February 13, 14, and 20. Prefer dessert with your wine? Head to Trummer’s on Main on February 13 for the restaurant’s “date night” tasting of four different varietals with Valrhona chocolate desserts. Straight-up chocoholics can also find a variety of classes and tastings. Check out our guide to shops selling gourmet cocoa treats, which includes events at Artfully Chocolate and Cocova.
Plan for the Future
No, we don’t mean hitting the most awkward aisle in the pharmacy. Tickets to a number of popular food events are on sale now, and it’s better to get them sooner rather than later. Taste of the Nation DC, one of the biggest culinary gatherings of the year, is throwing a Valentine’s ticket sale from February 10 through 18, with passes to the April 8 event at a 10 percent discount (use code VDAYDC). Music and food lovers can buy tickets to the annual Sweetlife Festival at Merriweather Post Pavilion, where you’ll rock out to bands like Passion Pit and Phoenix while noshing on eats from chefs such as R.J. Cooper and Erik Bruner-Yang. (We ate our way through last year’s fest and can vouch for the food on offer). If your sweetie is a pork lover, snag a ticket to Cochon555, a swine-tastic eating experience going down on April 7. The location is still TBD, but based on last year’s event, there will be plenty of pig, bourbon, and elbow-rubbing with celebrity chefs. VIP early admission tickets are worth the splurge to avoid the crush.
Get Creative With Your Chocolate
Sure, a box of gourmet chocolates is a nice gesture. You know what’s even nicer? Getting a picture of you and your honey printed on a chocolate frame. Tasty Image just opened a storefront in Bethesda, and it’s stocked with all sorts of personalized chocolate gifts.
Feel a little strange about chowing down on your paramour’s face? Feed it instead
with a “chocolate love tub” dessert at Juniper, available throughout February. Your
little bathtub for two is filled with warm Valrhona chocolate and comes with dunkable
berries, Rice Krispies treats, and raspberry mousse pops. If you want to actually
bathe in chocolate, head over to Qi Spa,
which offers two different cocoa treatments
for V-Day: an hour-long chocolate oil massage, or a chocolate facial.
The West End Ritz-Carlton (1150 22nd Street, Northwest) hosts a chocolate, Champagne, and jazz concert with billboard-topping artist Ski Johnson on February 14 from 8:30 until 10. Sample chocolates and desserts from pastry chef Nelson Paz, sip Veuve Clicquot, and listen to soulful tunes in one of the hotel's private party spaces ($125 per person, with proceeds benefiting Boys Town Washington D.C.). Go nuts on the bubbly if you like: A special deluxe room overnight rate of $209 can be purchased along with the concert. Call 202-974-5566 for reservations.
Belly Up to the Bar
So you’ve waited until the last minute, and now all your romantic restaurant options are fully booked. Your best bet: Dine at the bar. You can get closer to your date—sharing small plates, brushing knees—it’s easier to get the bartender’s attention, and it eliminates the pressure of staring at each other across the table for hours. Popular Valentine’s restaurants such as Marcel’s and Rasika offer their special set menus in the first come, first served bar area, or you could go à-la-carte with regular menus at spots like Proof or the Majestic. Check out a variety of menu options in our Valentine’s Day dinner guide, flip through our recent 100 Very Best Restaurants issue (available on newsstands now), and call up your favorite places to find out what they’re offering. As always, hitting the bar earlier rather than later greatly increases your odds of snagging a seat.