Love is a many, many splendored thing. Love stinks. Whatever your point of view, somewhere in the middle lies common ground: More than any other holiday, it is Valentine’s Day that provokes the most performance anxiety.
First, there’s the matter of having a Valentine at all. Married and otherwise strongly committed couples have built-in sweeties, but the burden lies heavily on the rest of us. Even those who are happily single 363 other days of the year (count New Year’s Eve as another pressure-to-pair occassion) feel just a teensy twinge of aloneness as all around them, Cupid aims his bow-everywhere but at their heart. Those in a casual dating relationship feel mounting anxiety as the holiday approaches. “Be mine,” says one. “Be your what?” asks the other. “Whatever,” replies the first. Isn’t it romantic?.
If you do have a Valentine, then the next step is purchasing a gift/planning the date. Flowers are always nice, if a tad predictable. I speak for a lot of women when I say that bunch of flowers, delivered quite unexpectedly on July 9, for no reason whatsoever, means a lot more than being order No. 784 on February 14. Just a tip, fellas. Jewelry indicates a little too much commitment. Or, not enough, particularly when she is expecting a ring and you present her with a bracelet. Pearls are a nice middle ground. A book of poetry would be lovely, and might reveal the tender soul at the core of the insensitive clod she thought she was dating. Sigh. Lingerie is always appreciated, but only if she has alreadythrough thought, word, and deedindicated that she is open to pursuing a physical relationship with you. Valentine’s Day is not the time to send dirty cards. Better not to send one at all.
As to the Valentine Date, this responsibility generally falls to the man, and why not? Here is your big chance to do the right thing. This is one occasion that absolutely calls for dinner for two, words that are music to a restaurateur’s ears. They are particularly happy with the 1999 calendar which puts Valentine’s Day on a Sunday. This spreads the holiday over the whole weekend, a fact that has not gone unnoticed by savvy romantics like Randy Rayburn who has declared February 12-14 Valentine’s Weekend at Sunset Grill. Sunday night many fine and upper-end restaurants are normally closed. The good news is they’re going to open their doors just for you, many with special menus and accoutrements planned. The bad news is many are already nearly booked solid, two weeks away from the big day. Clearly, some people think ahead.
If you are not one of those, and find yourself on the wrong side of a closed reservation desk, consider this. Personally, I think there is nothing more romantic than a candlelit dinner at home, cooked by you. There’s something about a man with a spoon that makes women swoon. Remember, nothin’ says lovin’ like somethin’ from the oven.
Sunset Grill, 2001 Belcourt Ave., 386-3663. The options are endless at Sunset, where you’ll find Valentine specials on the menu Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night from 5 p.m. And if Saturday night’s date turns into Sunday morning, celebrate with Valentine brunch from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. I’ll have the eggs over easy, please. Reservations.
F. Scott’s, 2210 Crestmoor Rd., 269-5861. Lovers can nibble on their choice of scallops, snapper, beef, lamb, quail, or duck from Margo McCormack’s special à la carte Valentine menu. Live jazz as always. Dinner from 5:30-10 p.m. Reservations.
Magnolias Restaurant, 230 Franklin Rd., Franklin, 791-9992. If it doesn’t work out the first time, you get a second chance to fall in love with Richard Hamilton’s Valentine Dinner Menu, served from 5-11 p.m. on Saturday and 5-10 p.m. on Sunday, $75 per person. Five courses with two or three choices in each. Passion-fruit soup sounds like the perfect finale. Reservations.
Cafe OneTwoThree, 123 12th Ave. N., 255-2233. Expect Chef Vito Randanzo to truffle with your affections when he concocts some special entrees with the prized truffle, oysters, fresh lobsters, and giant prawns. Dinner from 5:30-11 p.m. Reservations.
Jody’s, Cummins Station, 209 10th Ave. S., 259-4875. The love-lorn can order Broken-Hearted Fettuccini from the regular menu or sample some of The Great Faisoni’s new affairs of the hearta filet with lobster and béarnaise sauce or Penne Acapulco. Get all gooey with Chocolate Bananas Foster. Dinner from 5:30-10 p.m.
Mad Platter, 1239 Sixth Ave. N., 242-2563. This little Germantown restaurant scores so high on the romance meter that they have already booked four tables for New Year’s Eve 1999! They can maybe still squeeze in a few more on Sunday, February 14th, when they’ll be serving from their February menu with additional champagne specials. Dinner by reservation from 5:30-11:30.
Midtown Cafe, 102 19th Ave. S., 320-7176. Midtown is another favorite nesting place for lovebirds. The regular menu will be available as well as some additional, more extravagant specials. Two seatings so far, at 6 and 8 p.m., with the possibilty of a 10 p.m. for late-night rendezvous. Reservations.
The Trace, 2000 Belcourt Ave., 385-2200. If you want to go public with your private affairs, reserve a hot seat at The Trace, where everyone not only knows your name, but what you do, how much you make, and who you’re doing and making. Chef Freddy Brooker is planning four courses of love bites for two, priced at $75 a couple. The bar opens for foreplay at 4 p.m., dinner begins at 5. Reservations.
Sasso, 1400 Woodland St., 226-7942. How far will you go for love? Would you climb the highest mountain, sail the widest sea? All you have to do to sample Sasso’s fare is cross the Cumberland River into East Nashville. I promise it will be well worth the trip. Chefs Anita Hartell and Corey Griffith make quite the couple in the kitchen and the fruits of their labors are yours at three seatings, 5:30, 7:30, and 9:30 p.m. Reservations.
Tin Angel, 3201 West End Ave., 298-3444. Do you feel lucky? Tin Angel is first-come, first-served for their special Valentine’s menu on Sunday night from 4:30-10 p.m. Or get an fresh start with brunch from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Sole Mio, 94 Peabody St., 256-4013. That’s amore at Sole Mio Italian restaurant. If you’re not making eye contact with your intended, the view of the city is spectacular. Special dishes planned with an emphasis on fresh fish. Hourly seatings starting at 5 until 9 p.m. Reservations.
Zola, 3001 West End Ave., 320-7778. If Deb Pacquette can’t seduce your hard heart with her special Valentine’s 1999 love feast, you need a transplant. Four courses with several choices from each, among them veal sweetbreads, roasted pear salad with walnut oil, and grilled Moroccan Spiced New Zealand Lamb Chops. Mmmmm. Dinner for $48.95, from 5:30-11 p.m. Reservations.
Bound’ry, 911 29th Ave. S., 321-3043. Leave it to Bound’ry to go all the way. In the restaurant, a four-course Valentine’s Dinner for two, with wine, is $55 per person. Or, go over the top at the five-course Valentine Wine Dinner upstairs in The Phoenix Room. A reception with hors d’ouevres starts at 6:30 p.m., with dinner served from 7-10. ($75 per person). John Jonethis will be on piano with Kim Dean cooing love tunes. Reservations.