The way to a man’s (or woman’s) heart?

On Valentine’s Day, the way to your beloved’s heart may just be through his or her stomach. And what better way to celebrate love than with some of the region’s sexiest food? This V-Day, put your money where your heart is by dining at any one of these independent restaurants:

Friday, Feb. 11 through Monday 14, The Market Place Restaurant (20 Wall St.) features a special menu of aphrodisiacs and just plain good food. What sorts of aphrodisiacs? Well, there’s a “Viagra” creme brulée for one. Chef William Dissen would not reveal the recipe for that particular concoction, but he did says, “Well … we’ll put it this way: We’re not doing anything illegal.”

Some of the highlights of the rest of the menu include yellowfin tuna “ribbons” with avocado, french radish, yuzu-soy vinaigrette and chili oil, wood-grilled N.Y. steak with aligoté potatoes, caramelized onions, prosciutto-wrapped asparagus and peppercorn demi and a chocolate “decadence” dessert sampler. To make reservations, call 252-4162.

Looking for more of a wiseguy type of Valentine’s Day? Frankie Bones has a fun (but still romantic atmosphere), and a menu to match.

From Feb. 11 through 14, for $79 per couple, build a meal for two and finish it with a champagne toast and two long-stemmed chocolate-dipped strawberries.

Choose one appetizer from a list including lobster pot pie, bacon-wrapped shrimp. Then pick two side salads and two entrees including items like stuffed shells, Chilean sea-bass or petit filet or hickory-smoked prime rib. For dessert choose from vanilla-bean cheesecake or a chocolate Heath Bar martini.

Reservations are recommended, and can be made by calling 274-7111.
Friday through Monday, visit Bistro 1896 for a special Valentine’s menu in addition to the restaurant’s regular menu that includes small plates like shrimp bisque with tarragon crème fraiche or crab beignets with Champagne gelée and caviar remoulade.
Entrees include items like black peppercorn-encrusted maple duck breast with a blackberry and oatmeal-porter sauce and beef tenderloin with spinach, cremini mushroom and Gorgonzola stuffing.

Reservations can be made by calling 251-1300.

Looking for something meat-free?

The Laughing Seed Café offers an organic aphrodisiac dinner with wine pairings and a take-home “love potion” cordial. The price is $35 per person, with an additional $12 for the three-course wine pairing. The menu is below:

Sweet potato and saffron soup with chive cream cheese, cayenne and candied basil leaf.
Kuentz-Bas Blanc, Alsace  ‘08

Pomegranate sorbet

Chile-rubbed seitan with sauteéd aspiration floret and naked almonds, smoked Jerusalem artichoke-apple whip and avocado butter.
Chateau Haut-Bernones, Bordeaux  ‘06

Coconut tempura banana, chocolate jasmine risotto with Kahlua ice cream, hazelnut caramel and cinnamon sea salt.
Moscato d’Amor, ‘10

Reservations are required and can be made by calling 252-3445.

Pomodoros Greek and Italian Café is also featuring a special menu in addition to their regular options this Valentine’s weekend. Appetizers include pan-seared sesame-crusted Ahi Tuna with wasabi aioli.
Entrees include braised lamb shank over creamy Parmesan polenta and butter-braised broccollini as well as Mediterranean sea bass with fresh herbs and lemon and oven-roasted, served with Mediterranean orzo pasta.
Dessert includes a dark chocolate torte topped with a whipped blueberry and blackberry mascarpone.

Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling 299-3032 (east) or 687-3884 (south).

The Grove Park Inn is a very romantic place with its sunset views and — frankly — rooms upstairs just in case. Depending upon your mood (and the depth of your pockets), you may choose between the Sunset Terrace, the Blue Ridge Dining Room or Horizons for your Valentine’s Day dinner. Details are available on the inn’s website. Reservations are highly suggested.

Pack’s Tavern will offer a Valentine ‘s dinner menu on Monday, Feb. 14, only. The menu includes smoked trout-stuffed mushrooms with apple cider reduction, baked salmon Florentine over Parmesan risotto and lemon butter, grilled filet of beef over mashed potatoes with grilled asparagus and red wine reduction and more. We don’t recommend that you take the Mt. Mitchell Challenge on Valentine’s Day, by the way.

Desserts include chocolate mousse and a chocolate-lover’s martini. Visit the website for more information.

Cucina 24 (24 Wall St.) is a great choice for any romantic food-lover. Chef Brian Canipelli has decided not to do a special menu this year, but that kitchen always turns out a fantastic product. The fact that the restaurant is open on Monday (a day when it’s usually closed for the day) is special enough. And? Try the tiramisu, large enough for two to share — it’s pretty special, too.

Sazerac (29 Broadway St.) is offering a Valentines prix-fixe Menu for only $29 per person that includes a complimentary Champagne toast. It’s a pretty incredible deal, in my opinion. Menu below:

Choice of one:
Mussel stew with roasted new potatoes
Duck confit rillette with blue cheese, pickled beet and toasted crostinis
Smoked Sunburst Farms trout cakes with a shaved radish and fennel salad, topped with crispy Andouille

Choice of one:
Lamb pops with pomegranate gastrique, crème fraiche, scallion latke and roasted Brussels sprouts
Petit filet with pecan honey bourbon butter, root vegetable hash and Roasted Brussels sprouts
Black eyed pea cakes, corn salsa, mixed greens, and roasted tomato coulis

Choice of one:
Caramel pistachio tart with Frangelico beet ice cream
Chocolate goat cheese mousse
Orange blossom poppy seed soufflé

Call 225-2553 to make reservations.

The Red Stag Grill at the Grand Bohemian is featuring a rather sumptuous Valentine’s dinner, complete with wine pairings, if you so desire. Get the details on their website. Trust me guys, if you want to impress her, this is a sexy, sexy place to dine.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone. And remember: don’t do anything ill-advised, like getting matching tattoos.



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