Off-beat Valentine’s Day restaurant choices
blog by Ben Tsujimoto • February 14, 2012 @ 7:00am
Buffalo’s Urbanspoon, one of the best local restaurant review sites, posted a poll for the most romantic Valentine’s Day eateries in Western New York. Chow Chocolat pummeled the competition—apparently folks like chocolate—but upscale restaurants like Hutch’s, Left Bank, Black and Blue Steak & Crab and Rue Franklin also fared well in the vote.
Hey, there’s nothing wrong with choosing one of these higher-end restaurants to impress your Valentine, but be wary: you will have to deal with reservations, lines, etiquette rules (beware of the sneaky remoulade dangling from your chin) and high, but often fair, prices.
If you’re looking for a slightly lower-key atmosphere with a little less fanfare than the aforementioned spots, check out this list! (Broken down into full meal and dessert categories.)
SoHo Burger Bar, 64 West Chippewa St. in Buffalo: On its first Valentine’s Day as a burger bar, SoHo offers two pre-dinner cocktails, two cocktails during dinner, choice of two sides, a choice of any two burgers, a choice of dessert and a bottle of champagne to share for $50. The odds you have a slight-to-considerable buzz when you’re done? Fairly high. Call 856-7646 to make sure there’s seating available.
Papaya, 118 West Chippewa St. in Buffalo: Several higher level specials are planned at Papaya—an 8 oz. filet mignon will be the featured entree, while French-cut Kurobuta pork chops will also be available. There’s very limited seating still available, so call ahead for a reservation: (856-2444).
NoNoo Ramen, 480 Elmwood Ave. in Buffalo: The only authentic ramen noodle restaurant in Buffalo, head chef/owner Chris Van Every offers a four-course meal for couples for $47 (price without tax and tip). A plate of steamed gyoza (either pork or vegetarian), a second course of Bo Ssam (pork wrapped inside of a vegetable) and Mil Ssam (wheat wraps) on a platter served with charsu pork shoulder or marinated tofu, a small miso soup and a dessert for two completes a customizable, vegetarian-friendly Valentine’s Day offering. You’ll need reservations because of the small space, however, so call head: 867-7877.
Fat Bob’s Smokehouse, 41 Virginia Place in Buffalo: While barbecue might not be the first idea in your mind for Valentine’s Day, Fat Bob’s actually has grand plans. Two sizes of prime rib—a 14 oz. king for $22.99 and a 12 oz. queen for $20.99—are seasoned with garlic pepper and served with a homemade horseradish. If you’re a seafood fanatic, there’s panko-crusted grouper with a home-made creole sauce for $15.49, and there’ll be chili-fired roasted mussels on the special menu as well. Cherry cheesecake and a chocolate sin cake are part of the dessert line-up, and reservations are accepted (887-2971) but unnecessary.
Sample Restaurant, 242 Allen St. in Buffalo: Known as “Aphrodisiac Day,” Valentine’s Day at Sample is an opportunity for head chef Adam Goetz to get even more creative than usual. A small-plate lover’s heaven, the three-course meal, available between 4 p.m. and 7, is fully detailed here. The cost is $52, and you should call ahead (883-1675). The triple indulgent, triple chocolate cake sounds other-worldly.
Lloyd Taco Truck, Roswell Park from 11:30 to 1:30 p.m.: With Lloyd back from the shop after a post-Winterfest check-up, Buffalo’s favorite taco truck will slip in the tongue on Valentine’s Day, serving lengua (cow tongue) tacos as well as fish tacos. According to Lloyd’s Facebook page, “What better way 2 say I love you than a dozen burritos!” You don’t have to make reservations for Lloyd, but you can call ahead to place your order (863-9781).
Just Vino, 846 Main Street in Buffalo: Just Vino hosts a charity Valentine’s Day event that raises money for cardiovascular research. Plus, the three-course meal for $60 sounds delicious: “cream of asparagus soup with rosemary parmesan garlic bread, beef tenderloin with balsamic chocolate sauce, pepper jack twice-baked potato, vegetable medley and banana carrot cake or creme brulee with a bottle of Elher’s Cabernet Sauvignon.” Reservations are required by calling 725-0166.
Acropolis, 708 Elmwood Ave. in Buffalo: The trendy Greek restaurant in Elmwood Village offers a number of high-octane specials for Tuesday evening: “pork roulade with spinach, feta cheese, and red pepper burgundy wine sauce; Penelopian penne pasta with five-pepper goat cheese sauce w/shrimp or salmon; Surf and turf including a 4 oz lobster tail & 8 oz bourbon espresso-rubbed rib-eye with Greek potatoes and garlic-seared green beans; Mahi Mahi with sautéed Greek salsa, vegetable and Greek potatoes; and shrimp santorini over linguine. This is clearly not your ordinary Greek restaurant. Reservations are necessary: 886-2977.
Frank’s Sunny Italy, 2491 Delaware Ave. in Buffalo: Not your first thought for Valentine’s dinner either, right? Although you’re accustomed to the massive helping of spaghetti parmesan from Frank’s, there’s a more complex menu for V-Day—penne bocca, penne Bolognese, shrimp scampi over linguine, chicken putanesca, and chicken and veal piccata, to name a few. Calling ahead doesn’t hurt here either, although it’s not mandatory: (876-5449).
Chocolate Bar, 114 West Chippewa in Buffalo: Although the Chocolate Bar is sure to be packed after dinner, there’s a chance you can sneak in for an early meal without too much of a hassle. Call ahead for reservations (332-0484), for sure, but the Valentine’s Day specials sound intense. After a caesar salad starter, there’s the entree choice between filet mignon, pesto salmon, and pecan chicken, then a choice of desserts and champagne for a couple for $65.95. The lady also receives a long-stem rose! Nice.
Mezza Restaurant and Lounge, 929 Elmwood Ave. in Buffalo: Although the restaurant has yet to set its specials, Mezza plans to treat every couple to a free bottle of wine on Valentine’s Day for every two dinners bought. Unfortunately, free hookah isn’t involved, but hey—here’s Mezza’s menu so you can take advantage of that free wine bottle.
Several restaurants like Vera Pizzeria, Acropolis and Black Rock Kitchen and Bar will not announce their specials until Tuesday morning, while others like Toro!, Ambrosia, Wellington Pub and Bambino opted to not add any specials this Valentine’s Day.
For the sweet-tooth or the couple that wants to avoid the high-cost of dinner and would rather munch on dessert:
Swirls Cupcakery, 634 Main St. in East Aurora: In addition to selling chocolate-covered strawberries in groups of three (see the photo of them at the Swirls Facebook page), Swirls in East Aurora will focus on its “cake-pops,” which are cake and frosting blended into a batter then coated with chocolate and placed atop a stick like a lollipop. Creative, right? Hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
FairyCakes Cupcakery, 289 Parkside Ave. in Buffalo: The North Buffalo cupcake specialists clearly value Valentine’s Day, as they’re hosting St. Valentina: A Night of Aroma, Cakes and Wine from 7 p.m. to 9. Tickets are $16.37 online and can be purchased here. The word “pampering” exists in the description, and that’s enough to satisfy me. The store, usually closed on Tuesdays, will be open from noon to 6 p.m. on Valentine’s Day.
Oh Pour l’Amour du Chocolat, 4476 Main Street in Amherst: The ever-crafty Oh Pour l’Amour du Chocolat will offer chocolate-dipped raspberries and blueberries in addition to the usual strawberries this Valentine’s Day. If you include the 32 varieties of truffles, scrumptious Parisian macarons (or macaroons, as the word’s evolved) and owner Howard Cadmus’ beloved mustache pops, then you won’t be left wanting. Hours are 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Caz Coffee Cafe, 688 Abbott Rd. in South Buffalo: From the cafe that offers monthly specialty drinks like cleverly-named “Malcolm X-presso,” it’s not a shocker that Caz Coffee Cafe jumps into the Valentine’s Day festivities head-first. The two holiday-themed drinks are the Sweetheart Mocha—espresso with creamy white chocolate sauce, strawberry and vanilla flavoring combined with steamed milk then topped with whipped cream—and the Chocolate-covered Cherry Mocha—espresso with creamy chocolate sauce and cherry flavoring combined with steamed milk then topped with whipped cream and a maraschino cherry. For the rest of the February drink list, go here.
Link to S.J.‘s chocolate guide:
Header photo courtesy of Flickr.com / ilovebutter