The pressure to do something about Valentine’s Day is like a scepter at the back of the neck. The universal responsibility is upon us all. So here's a little help for celebrating, no matter how you choose to love:
1. For new, or bumbling, love
Cedar and Stone at the JW Marriott Minneapolis Mall of America has put together this menu designed to “take the awkwardness out” of a first Valentine’s Day date, or to help those trying to “rekindle the flame.”
Begin with a starter of grilled scallops, prepared with no garlic, so you can smooch later.
Add a second course of butternut squash soup or a warm Wisconsin brie salad, which use ingredients from local farms. Cedar and Stone believes this is “the perfect way to show a date that you are environmentally conscious.” Ostensibly, that’s sexy.
The entrees will be served “petit,” leaving energy for the post-meal romancer. Dessert will be shareable, and the kitchen says they’re happy to plug an engagement ring into the cake. This is officially the worst way to propose, second only to doing it on a first date on Valentine’s Day. But hey, it's your call.
Things really look up when it comes to beverages: the restaurant is offering half-off a large selection of champagne and bubbles, including Taittinger, Pierre Gimonnet, Veuve Clicquot, and Moët and Chandon. They're all very good labels that will take the awkwardness out of dinner better than anything.
The feast is $136 per couple. Since you’re already there, you should check into the Marriott, because nothing takes the mind off of loving like parking ramps and snowbanks.
Cedar and Stone, Urban Table, JW Marriott Minneapolis Mall of America
2141 Lindau Ln., Bloomington
2. For the lover...of pizza
Just because it’s some big, dumb romantic holiday does not mean you should leave your regular foodlusts in the dust. February 14th is not a day when all people magically begin to enjoy foie gras and chocolate truffles. What we love to eat is pizza. What you love to eat is pizza. So eat pizza at Davanni’s, where pies are reshaped into hearts. They're available from February 12-14. Some locations also serve craft beer and wine by the bottle or glass. For dessert: one-dollar brownies.
3. For the group, for the dateless, or the happily date-free
Create Dining Studio has group love covered, communal style. Chefs Philip and Desiree Dorwart are transforming their event space into a convivial place for friends. Go it alone or go as a group. $70 gets you a champagne toast, canapés, and a five-course dinner. Seating is communal, and one drink ticket is included with the price. Cash bar available. Order tickets here.
Create Dining Studio
1121 Jackson St. NE, Minneapolis
4. For the baller
The 12-seat chef’s table at Upton 43 is perhaps the most ambitious ticket in town. Erick Harcey has built a neo-Scandinavian space so modern it’s almost stark. The cooking follows suit, kicking the boundaries of Nordic food into the stratosphere of high art. This is rockstar stuff. For $125, you get a bunch of courses and a bunch of beverages, taken right in the kitchen from the chefs. The Valentine’s Day seating is offered 7-9:30 p.m., but there are dates leading up to and beyond the big day. (See their calendar for details.)
In the dining room, Upton 43 is also serving a special Valentine’s Day 9-course $100 prixe fixe menu, including savory macarons, salmon heart terrine, venison with beets, and lots of other sultry dishes. Make reservations online or call the restaurant.
4312 Upton Ave. S., Minneapolis
5. For kids, babies, dads, and moms
Grab the fruits of your Valentine’s Days passed. A daytime date at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum means fresh air, a great big buffet for every taste, and a reasonable bedtime for all. The buffet includes romantic classics like shrimp cocktail, oysters on the half shell, crab cakes, stuffed french toast, a carving station, eggs benedict, flourless chocolate torte, mimosas, bloodies, and lots and lots of other stuff.
$32.99 for adults, $14.99 for kids ages 6 to 15, and kids under 5 are free. Booze is extra. (To make reservations.)
Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
3675 Arboretum Dr., Chaska