There is traditional St. Valentine’s Day, and then there is the more cheeky thought: “It’s not so Saintly Valentine’s Day!”
However you are celebrating with your significant someone, a delicious dinner out is a classic treat. While at the table, you can offer him or her that little gift (diamonds, perhaps?) and play a little footsie, too.
In an inventive (and helpful for our packed schedules) extra this year, some restaurants are extending their special menus past just Feb. 14, while some also offer hotel packages for the evening. Be sure to ask about extras like flower bouquets, signature chocolates and other custom touches to warm up your honey’s heart.
Here are some of our favorite places to celebrate Valentine’s Day in San Francisco:
Chef Russell Jackson puts extra decadence into his five-course menu ($89) this year, served in a stylish setting with stunning water views. Hearts are sure to go pitter-patter for such delights as an appetizer of Oeufs Truffled (truffled eggs) or Coeur Rasé de Canard Tartare (duck heart tartare); plus a second course of Strausberg Pie (foie gras in brioche) or Terrine Végétale (seasonal vegetable terrine). For the third course, tuck into Pintade Rotie, Cardons a l’Anchois (roast fowl with cardoons), Daube a la Provencale (provencal braised beef), or Legume en Vol au Vont (seasonal vegetables in pastry). Next, it’s a cheese course, and then dessert, which is extravagant chocolate, naturally.
Pier 5, San Francisco, 415-839-2134, lafittesf.com.
Chef Michael Reining turns up the heat on Valentine’s Day, plus before and after, with a special menu offered from Feb. 10 through Feb 19. A la carte choices include a first course of halibut crudo topped in arugula, smoked almonds, avocado and dried apricot vinaigrette ($17), and entrees of pesto rubbed New York steak with asparagus, mint dressing and rosti potatoes in veal demi ($20) or salmon Coulibiac over rice with dill and saffron, spinach and mushrooms in saffron cream sauce ($19). For dessert, chocolate banana almond cake tempts with whipped mascarpone cream, chocolate sauce and berries ($8).
545 Post Street, San Francisco, 415-776-7825
Chef Ben de Vries sends out a four course feast ($55 plus $25 for wine pairings). While some restaurants’ special event menus can be limited, here, the most challenging part of the evening will be for guests to choose their appetizer, a pasta, a main dish and dessert from the lengthy array of offerings. Consider just the appetizers, which include oysters on the half shell with red wine mignonette, snapper crudo with micro cress and American sturgeon caviar, winter chard soup with ditali rigati pasta, and lamb chop with house made mustard sauce, arugula purée and tomato brunoise. Then, there are the pastas, ranging from fresh crab ravioli with lobster sauce and chives, black truffle fettuccini with chopped black truffles, gnocchi with roasted butternut squash, wild mushrooms, hazelnuts and sage brown butter, or braised beef cheek cannelloni with pecorino béchamel and gremolata.
1896 Hyde Street San Francisco, 415-674-4343, luellasf.com.
Okay, it’s a lavish treat at $499, but the “How Do I Love Thee – Let Me Count Five Ways” special is an entire package that your sweetie will always remember. The deal includes all these goodies: One-night stay in one of Hotel Shattuck Plaza’s Suite; Candle-light dinner for two at FIVE; Choice of two FIVE Valentine’s Day themed Cocktails; A dozen red roses; and Guaranteed late checkout at 3 p.m. Snatch it up from Feb. 10 through 16 by reservation at the hotel www.hotelshattuckplaza.com. If dinner is more your budget, then on those same dates. $55 gets you a four-course menu titled entice/tempt/fulfill/indulge. Some choices include Marin miyagi oysters; pear, arugula and Pt. Reyes bleu cheese salad in local honey vinaigrette; and California halibut with cauliflower, roasted pepper agrodolce and Voduvan spiced emulsion.
2086 Allston Way, Berkeley, 510-225-6055, five-berkeley.com.
Valentine’s Day spans an entire week for this fine dining spot within the Hotel Palomar, with a special cherub-themed menu offered from Feb. 7 through Feb. 18. Indulge in a 7-course tasting menu ($95) or go all out with a 9-course tasting menu($130).
12 Fourth Street, San Francisco, 415-348-1555, fifthfloorrestaurant.com.
Tip: What goes perfectly with that special evening? A limo, of course. And Pure Luxury Transportation can stock your luxury car with chocolates, sparkling wine and flowers.