Saturday, February 12, 2011

Valentine's Day Restaurants, Bars and Bakeries Salute Sweeties with Special Creations

I love Valentine’s Day and all the kooky heart-shaped and red concoctions that restaurants, bars and bakeries dream up to help you celebrate. Here are some that caught my eye this year.

Royal/T
First, the exception. There’s nothing particularly Valentines-looking about the menu at LA’s Royal/T, but their Royal India Valentine’s feast is pretty outrageous with its spices, and I just love the name of the first course, Tomato-Coconut Contentment. On to the next three courses if you can get past that one.
8910 Washington Boulevard, Culver City, CA 310-559-6300

Revd Up Pi
Revd Up Pi’s heart-shaped pizza is really the embodiment of Valentine’s Day and it’s even healthy at only 170 calories per slice. Very nice indeed with fresh mozzarella, basil and fiber-enriched tomato sauce on a 16-grain crust. Love it! http://revduppi.com/
451 3rd Ave., New York City, 212-679-3743

Cafeteria
Red is the color of the day at Cafeteria with Red Velvet Pancakes for breakfast and a special lovers’ cocktail, The Dangerous Beauty. Dessert is as kooky and sexy as is comes for Valentine’s Day decadence with Pastry Chef Matt Joyce’s trio of chocolate decadence, the Ménage à Trois, a dark chocolate flourless cake topped with strawberry Pop Rocks, milk chocolate mascarpone mousse decorated with chocolate pearls, and home-made white chocolate ice cream.
119 7th Ave., New York City, 212-414-1717

Fresco by Scotto
It’s heart-shaped pizza time again at 17-year old Fresco by Scotto, and it’s complimentary with your Valentine’s Day dinner. Sweet!
34 E. 52nd St., New York City, 212-935-3434

Graffit
I love the creativity of Madrid’s Chef Jesus Nuñez: here’s your chance to design an edible gift for Valentine’s Day. The Graffit Dessert is your personal canvas – you’ll get a chocolate molten cake on a white plate and an array of colorful fruit purées and melted white and dark chocolates in squeeze bottles so you can graffiti your own cake masterpiece.
141 W. 69th St., New York City, 646-692-8762

Bagatelle
Iron Chef America champ Nicolas Cantrel makes you feel special at sexy Southern French-inspired Bagatelle, starting off your prix-fixe dinner with an exclusively designed bottle of Moet & Chandon Champagne with “I Love You” on the bottle. How can you resist?
409 W. 13th St., New York City, 212-675-2400

Casa Lever
The Valentine’s Day desserts compete for attention with Casa Lever’s collection of original Andy Warhol paintings. Drink a flute of complimentary champagne and tuck into Executive Chef Mario Danieli’s Cuore di Afrodite by Sant Ambroeus, a chocolate chiffon cake with a pistachio crème brûlée and sour cherry filling, topped with heart-shaped chocolate mousse. How pretty!
390 Park Ave., New York City, 212-888-2700

Haru
I’m crazy about Haru’s super-red Cupid’s Muse cocktail, a blend of sparkling wine, St. Germain liqueur, Absolut pear and a hint of grenadine, garnished with a fresh strawberry and served in a champagne flute. But my absolute favorite is this drink with a kick, the Electriquila, a snappy mix of tequila, sake and yuzu juice surrounded by a rim of salt and crushed Szechuan buttons—edible flower buds that emit an “electric” sensation when you bite into them.
Locations throughout Manhattan

Carmines
If you can’t leave your family at home on Valentine’s Day, Carmine’s is for you. Bring the clan but save the Valentine’s Day indulgences for yourself with a Lover’s Punch cocktail for two, a very red potion with rum, St. Germain elderflower, raspberry vodka, juice and a splash of Italian sparkling wine. You could share the Heart-shaped Chocolate Torte but you might want to keep it for the two lovers in charge; it’s pretty decadent with powdered sugar, fresh whipped cream, white and milk chocolate covered strawberries, drizzled with strawberry, sugar and Chambord liquor purée.
2450 Broadway, 212-362-2200; 200 W. 44th St., 212-221-3800, both in New York

SD26 WineBar&Lounge
At Madison Park’s SD26 WineBar & Lounge, try a “hot” wine cocktail to get the juices flowing. Chef Matteo Bergamini’s Vin Brûlé Hot Wine cocktail is a spicy blend of aphrodisiac ingredients like cinnamon, clove and nutmeg, ladled from a ceramic bowl into a tall glass tea cup.
19 E. 26th St., 212-265-5959

Lulu Cake Boutique
Lulu Cake Boutique is my idea of a snack place for Valentine’s Day. You just have to love their Large Heart-Shaped Oreo with pink buttercream filling or the Sweetie Pie, a heart-shaped whoopie pie with pink buttercream filling. Hearts starting to make your eyes glaze over? Try a Velvety Red Twinkie, a frosted cupcake with pink hearts, or pink and white cookies instead.
112 8th Ave., New York City, 212-242-LULU

Chocolat Michel Cluizel
The chocolate experts at Chocolat Michel Cluizel will help you customize a chocolate frenzy for your sweetheart. I especially love the Mini-Nuancier Je T’Aime, a collection of five 72% dark chocolate discs hand-decorated with French ‘I Love You’s' and cute red, yellow and white hearts. If dark chocolate is your thing, you’ll go wild over the Sachet Coeur Passion, a flat molded chocolate adorned with metallic colored almond grains and mini red and white hearts that read ‘Je T’Aime Passionnément’ (“I Love You Passionately). Can’t make up your mind between milk and dark chocolate? Snag the Tendre Douceur, a half-and-half decorated heart.
584 5th Ave., New York City, 646-415-9126

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