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Monday, January 28, 2008

Dining Out on Valentine's Day? Book a Table Now. Or Better Yet: Stay Home

Posted By on Mon, Jan 28, 2008 at 6:20 AM

Typically one of the busiest nights of the year for restaurant going -- a fact that accounts for its nickname in the biz as “amateur night” -- Valentine’s Day falls on a Thursday this year, which guarantees that even the humblest boîte will be filled to overflowing. Predictably, then, it’s already too late to snag some of the city’s top tables. Both downtown’s Lola Bistro and Valley View’s Dante, for instance, are all booked up for February 14; and primetime reservations at spots like Vue (Hudson), Red the Steakhouse (Beachwood), and Michaelangelo’s (Little Italy) are going fast. Most foodies will tell you to simply stay home. Plenty of V-Day horror stories are just a Google away, but this post from "Fire & Knives" does well to sum it up, including this depressing passage: ...
As one high-end chef, anonymous for obvious reasons, put it "Everything shitty, clichéd, and horribly 80s gets wheeled out. Duo of lamb chops, cut to resemble hearts. Coeur a la fucking crème. There will be at least one nancying, ninnying chicken dish, especially for the ladies, and steak, which will be ordered by 80% of the men. Well-done, of course - medium if you're lucky." It's pleasant to know that, as you enjoy your romantic dinner, catching your date's eye in the candlelight, your thoughts turning lightly to love, there's an entire kitchen brigade, in a murderous sweating, loathing rage separated from you only by a flimsy MDF door. Your experience is unlikely to be enhanced by your busy server, as the Valentine's evening shift isn't exactly an unalloyed pleasure for them either. Most of the waiting staff I spoke to agreed that while "no-one wants to look a cheapskate by under-tipping and ruin their chances of copping off" they'll spend a fair part of their evening fielding ill-informed complaints from men who believe it "makes them look forceful and educated in front of their date".
Still, if you are determined to dine out on V-Day, one of the easiest ways to find a seat is by way of Open Table, where you can search the data base of 52 area restaurants by date, time, and party size. Particularly if you’re flexible about the hour, tables are still available at most restaurants. Just don’t put it off much longer. --- Elaine T. Cicora Read Elaine Cicora's restaurant reviews, food news, and comprehensive dining guide on the restaurant page at

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