Eat Your Heart Out

By Chris S. Nishiwaki

February 14, 2022

A last-minute Valentine's Day guide to Seattle-area restaurants

woodmark

If you’re dining out tonight, be prepared.

Valentine’s Day is traditionally the busiest night of the year and, with restaurants reopening and the Omicron variant slowing its spread, this Valentine’s Day is anticipated to be the busiest in three years. This year, it falls on Monday, giving restaurants an extra busy weeknight on a day of the week that traditionally draws smaller crowds. 

A busier than usual evening combined with higher than usual guest expectations, collude to make it one of the most of difficult nights for restaurants. If you don’t want to fight the crowds, you can always consider a night in. I suggest the notorious aphrodisiac of oysters paired with a palate-tickling sparkling wine. The three-dozen oyster sampler from Hama Oyster Co. for $65 will be delivered to your doorstep via FedEx and packed in ice. McCarthy & Schiering stores in Queen Anne and Ravenna are offering the esoteric Franck Besson Sparkling Gamay Rose Granit, a bargain at $21. Cooking for your loved one may be the ultimate aphrodisiac. 

For guests insisting on dining out, the appropriately named Frank’s Oyster House and Champagne Parlor will shuck the oysters for you and pair them with the appropriate sparkling wine. The rustic, yet chic, dining room envelopes diners in a romantic warmth. Restaurateur Sarah Penn’s menu consistently strikes the balance between luxurious and comfort. Witness the Dungeness Crab pappardelle in a rich brown butter crème fraîche or the scallop crudo resting on pillowy avocado puree and kissed with yuzu and chive oil. 

For a twist, literally, on sparkling wine try La Dive on Capitol Hill where sparkling wine is served in a Chambong, a Champagne flute twisted into the shape of a bong. Guests posting photos on La Dive’s Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/ladiveseattle) on Valentine’s Day of them on a date at La Dive will receive a complimentary flute of sparkling wine served in the aforementioned Chambong.   

Lumen Field, the home of the Seattle Seahawks, is hosting Field to Table featuring local chefs until Sunday, Feb. 20, when Musang’s Mel Miranda closes the three-week run of dining on the field. Eight Row chef and owner David Nichols is the featured chef at Field to Table on Valentine’s Day. For a complete schedule of featured chefs go to https://www.fieldtotable.us. In the meantime, Eight Row, which Nichols runs with his fiancé Kate Willman, is offering a five-course Valentine’s Day theme dinner for $80 all week. 

Eight Row’s Greenlake neighbor Nell’s Restaurant will be offering a four-course Valentine’s Day menu for $102 with luxurious options such as lobster risotto and Kobe-style hanger steak. The impeccably curated wine pairings flight is a bargain at $40 and highly recommended. Of note, Nell’s Chef and owner Philip Mihalski played a waiter in the classic romantic film “Sleepless in Seattle,” filmed at the original Dahlia Lounge where he was a cook at the time of filming. In real life, he’s a talented chef eschewing celebrity and the attention that has foiled many wannabe celebrity chefs. 

Sticking with the romantic waterside setting, Epulo Bistro and Salt & Iron, mere blocks from the Edmonds waterfront, are also offering special tasting menus for the evening. 

Epulo’s four-course tasting menu comes with optional wine pairings. Epulo GM Jim Rubstello says the restaurant is increasing seating by opening its private banquet room to add eight additional tables to the main dining room, in addition to the covered and heated patio. 

Salt & Iron is offering a four-course menu plus complimentary amuse bouche to start and chocolate truffles to finish for $199 per couple. Oysters on the half shell and lobster salad are merely the first two courses. Graham Beck sparkling brut rosé will served on special for $13 a glass. Wine pairings are also optional. The elevated comfort-food slice of Americana is courtesy of Ira Taylor. The virtuous service is led by Robert LaBuda. 

Many of Seattle’s traditional special occasion destinations also feature romantic water views and settings. Think Salty’s on Alki or Redondo Beach, Daniel’s Broiler on Lake Union, Leschi or downtown Bellevue, Ray’s Boathouse or the Space Needle. There are many neighborhood options with spectacular view, as well. 

Ascend Prime Steak & Sushi, on the top floor of Lincoln Square, offers sweeping views of Bellevue to Lake Washington. It is offering Valentine’s specials, including surf n’ turf (bone-in tenderloin and lobster thermidor) for two for $380, among other options. Finish the evening with “The Hive for Two,” a sweet medley of pink raspberry cake, almond chocolate ice cream and champagne cake. 

For the steakhouse experience in Seattle, Bourbon Steak (which Michael Mina transformed in the space where he previously opened RN74) offers a three-course menu for $95 per person in its warmly and romantically lit dining room. Look for specials on Champagne from producers such as DeVenoge and Delamotte, as well as the red sparkling wine Bugey Cerdon. 

Don’t forget about the many fine hotel restaurants, either. Many offer multi-course dinners. Chef Quinton Stewart at Ben Paris at The State Hotel is offering a five-course prix fixe menu for $95, including a glass of Cremant Rosé. The Woodmark Hotel’s Beach Cafe is offering a four-course dinner for $85 per person. 

Food Network “Chopped: Casino Royale” champion Kaleena Bliss will offer a five-course dinner for $95 per person at newly renovated Conversation at The Thompson Hotel. Entree choices are filet of beef with foie gras jus, Moulard duck breast served with creamy farro, Ling cod in a sweet potato-miso or potato gnocchi with black trumpet mushrooms. The exclamation point to the special dinner is dessert service for two that includes, salted caramel budino, warm housemade cookies and chocolate truffles.

At The Sorrento on Seattle’s First Hill, the historic hotel, its lobby restaurant, Stella, is offering a three-course menu for $50, all inclusive. The W Seattle is offering the Skyline Valentine package until Feb. 27. Guests booking a room receive a pair of cocktails, the special in-room dining “Lover’s Feast” and toys, including massage oil, dice and shower steamers. Room rates vary.   

A special occasion such as Valentine’s Day is also an opportunity explore some of the new(ish) restaurants in the region. 

Meesha Chef Preeti Agarwal has crafted a special five-course in its dining room or romantic heated patio. Chef and restaurateur Brian Clevenger continues to expand his empire, bringing thoughtful, balanced and cravings-inducing fare to intimate neighborhood locales. The interior design to his restaurants evoke understated luxury, focusing guest attention to the artistry on the plate. Autumn in Phinney Ridge is his latest creation. For Valentine’s Day, Clevenger is offering a five-course menu for $95 per guest. Choices include silky pappardelle or buttery King Salmon. 

Bunsoy, which opened this past weekend, is the latest creation for the team of Tommy Patrick and Rhabbie Coquia. Previously, they collaborated on The Ballard Cut and Parish NW. For Bunsoy, they take over the space of the former Matador in the heart of Ballard. 

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