A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg
Whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day with your true love, or a true friend, our local watering holes and restaurants are working overtime to make the holiday a memorable one. Here are a few ideas:
A Classic Valentine Weekend at Finch & Fork
Finch & Fork (31 West Carrillo St.) is honoring the classics this Valentine’s Day. On both Feb. 13 and Feb. 14, order from their regular dinner menu, or from a variety of specials. Try the Lobster Bisque, served tableside and sure to impress. Next, order Chef James Siao’s Beef Wellington served with wild mushroom puree, speck, brioche, grilled asparagus salad and roasted garlic peppercorn sauce. For the ultimate finale, indulge in their tableside Hot Fudge Sundae, prepared with all the toppings.
Tempt Your Catch at the Hungry Cat’s Ocean-Inspired Valentine’s Day
Gems from the sea set the scene for romance in Chef/Owner David Lentz’s Hungry Cat (1134 Chapala St.). For Valentine’s Day, guests may select from a prix fixe menu that includes Peruvian Scallops with fennel, sambal and granny smith apple; Prawns with chili, lime, shrimp chip and egg custard; Smoked Salmon with crème fraiche, caper berry, heirloom beet and cauliflower; Lobster Raviolo with black garlic, king trumpet and spinach; and Grilled Branzino for two with chickpea, green romesco, cucumber and mint. Meat lovers will savor a rich and tender Stout- Braised Lamb Shoulder. In addition, the restaurant’s signature Ocean-Fresh Raw Bar is available à la carte along with two specially created Valentine’s Day craft cocktails —the Laws of Attraction (made with Ford’s Gin, Pamplemousse Rose, lemon and chocolate bitters) and Love Me Forever (made with rose petal infused vodka, ginger, blood orange juice and gran classico).
The Lark Presents Three Nights of Valentine-Inspired Specials
Set the table for romance at The Lark (131 Anacapa St.), where Executive Chef Jason Paluska and Executive Pastry Chef Jeff Haines present a weekend of Valentine’s Day dining with enticing specials designed to be shared by two for the ultimate romantic dining experience. Chef Paluska’s creations include Santa Barbara Sea Urchin Toast with Perigord Black Truffle Butter, Grilled Sourdough Levain, Breakfast Radish & Chervil; and Seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras with Pink Peppercorn-Buttermilk Biscuits with Roasted Strawberry Duck Jus, Pickled Fennel & Tarragon.
Couples may also share the luscious Dungeness Crab & House-made Gnocchi with Spanish Chorizo, Navel Orange, Castelvetrano Olives & Lobster Roe. For dessert, Chef Haines prepares a Classic Chocolate Cake with Hibiscus, Olive Oil, Raspberry Meringue and Passion Fruit Ice Cream. Served with the dessert is a toast for two of Sparkling Gamay from Patrick Bottex, La Cueille, Savoie, France. The Lark also offers the complete market-driven menu that has made the restaurant so popular.
Wining and Dining at Les Marchands Wine Bar & Merchant
Les Marchands (131 Anacapa St.) and Chef Weston Richards have a romantic weekend planned with three seductive dishes that are passionately playful for couples seeking a relaxed and casual evening of courtship. Begin with Les Marchands Valentine’s Day aphrodisiac of Crispy Fried Oysters with Lemon-Caper Remoulade and House-Made Hot Sauce. Then savor Chef Weston’s definitive burger—“Royale with Cheese,” two 1/4-pound beef patties with caramelized onions, Taleggio cheese and housemade thousand island served with a side of garlic-herb pommes frites. For the ultimate in decadent desserts, try a rich Dark Chocolate Mousse with Chocolate-Pistachio Crisp, Marshmallow, Ancho Chile Powder & Olive.
The sommelier team at Les Marchands has selected three preferred picks to be paired and discovered with each of the Valentine’s Day specials: Gaston Chiquet Grand Cru Blanc de Blanc to enjoy with oysters; Weihenstephaner Hefe Weiss as a match for the “Royale with Cheese” burger; and Domaine La Tour Vielle “Rimage” Banyuls to accompany the richness of Chef Weston’s dark chocolate mousse. Pricing is à la carte.
Vintage Love at Outpost
Celebrate a very special vintage Valentine’s Day at Outpost at the Goodland Hotel (5650 Calle Real, Goleta), where Executive Chef Derek Simcik has created the Vintage Love menu. It includes classic French dishes like Foie Tourchon with Sauternes, Beef Royale and Bouillabaisse. Pair your meal with the perfect cocktail, like the Novel Vintage with Woodford Rye, Maison Rouge VSOP, Earl Grey-Honey Syrup, Luxardo Maraschino, Orange Curacao and Lemon.
After dinner, stop by Goodbar and have lead bartender Chris Burmeister make one his newest creations. Try the Vendetta with Gran Lusso Vermouth, Lustau Palo Cortado Sherry, Amere Nouvelle, bitters and strawberry preserves, or the Handsome Haymaker with H by Hine Cognac, Avua Amburana, Masala Chai Syrup, milk and cream.
S.Y. Kitchen Presents a San Valentino Dinner Designed for Romance
S.Y. Kitchen‘s San Valentino Dinner features alluring holiday specials, a Valentine’s Day cocktail and stellar wine recommendations (1110 Faraday St., Santa Ynez). Starters include Black Truffle Ravioli with Burrata and Shaved Black Truffles; followed by main course selections of Filet Mignon with Mushrooms and Polenta and Grilled Giant Atlantic Prawns with Avocado Mousse, Local Tomatoes and Arugula. For dessert, there is a special additional dessert prepared by Chef Francesco—a rich Chocolate Terrine with Raspberry Sauce and Fresh Berries. Pricing is à la carte and reservations are recommended for one of the most popular dining nights of the year.
In addition, Mixologist Alberto Battaglini will make his special Rose & Hibiscus Martini: a stunning presentation of Rose-Infused Hendrix Gin with Fresh Rose Petals, Raspberry, Hibiscus-Blackberry Bitter, Lemon and Lime. Wine lovers will enjoy Sommelier Emily Johnston’s suggested bottle of Alma Rosa Brut Rosé ‘El Jabali’ 2013 among other recommendations to accompany dinner. Cuddle together in the courtyard at night or by the outdoor fire pit before or after dinner with an Aperitivo or Digestivo for a little extra flirting. In addition to the Valentine’s Day Specials, S.Y. Kitchen will offer their complete à la carte menu on Valentine’s Day for those that prefer the restaurant’s signature dishes. S.Y. Kitchen will also be serving their “Italian Breakfast” on Feb. 14 from 10 a.m. -2 p.m. for couples that want to get an early start on Valentine’s Day.
Rose, Reds and Truffles at Santa Barbara Wine Collective
Santa Barbara Wine Collective (131 Anacapa St.), offers a special all- weekend Valentine’s Day tasting featuring two flights to sample from the Collective’s five talented Santa Barbara County members. Choose a flight of two exceptional Rosé selections from The Paring and Fess Parker or a flight of five reds from Babcock, Fess Parker, The Paring, Notary Public and Ca’ Del Grevino.
Both flights include pairings of artisan chocolate truffles created by Santa Barbara confectioner Jessica Foster, and are available all day Fri. Feb. 12-Sun. Feb. 14. To purchase advance tickets, visit NightOut.com: sbwcvdayflight.nightout.com. Tickets are also available in person.
Cheers! Click here for more cocktail corner columns.
When she’s not busy working as the editor of Santa Barbara SEASONS, Cocktail Corner author Leslie Dinaberg writes magazine articles, newspaper columns and grocery lists. When it comes to cocktails, Leslie considers herself a “goal-oriented drinker.”
Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine on February 5, 2016.