Valentine's Day in Burlington, VT -- need advice
I know dining out on Valentine's Day is usually to be avoided, but we're going skiing for President's Day weekend, so we'll have to eat away from home.
The restaurants that sound good to me in general, based on recommendations here, are Smokejacks, NECI Commons, and possibly Single Pebble. Souza's Brazilian Restaurant also sounds intriguing -- is there anyone who's eaten there and can vouch for its quality? I am thinking churrascuria style dining with meats brought around from table to table might be more suited to a busy night than someplace that's attempting to cook plates to order.
I'm trying to avoid overpriced prix fixe menus with poor selection and crappy service. I'm interested in finding out which restaurants in Burlington are particularly known for good service. If you have any other restaurants to suggest, would like to hear them -- I want to stay away from anything that could be viewed as pretentious or Frenchy, however.
If you're looking for reliable service, I'd stay away from NECI. Trattoria Delia is fantastic, even though I'm sure it will be extremely busy on V-Day. A couple other Italian-esque options: Leunig's Bistro has great atmosphere but again will probably be uber-busy; Three Tomatoes, back when it was still Sweet Tomatoes, was a favorite of mine but I haven't been there in several years. It's fairly laid-back and unpretentious like Cannon's but it's in downtown Burlington, which is a bit more romantic than the Ethan Allen shopping plaza in the North End (don't get me wrong I love Cannon's _and_ the North End, just maybe not for Valentine's...)
I also absolutely love A Single Pebble, and have never had any trouble with service or long waits.
Cannon's Italian restaurant on North Avenue is a wonderful place. Living in that neighborhood, I hardly expected to find any food to taste good/authentic. Cannon's food is definitely up there with the best Italian food I've had in years. Portions are superb and service is excellent. Valentine's Day is the 14th, Saturday. You MUST make reservations for Friday/Saturday nights, or be prepared to wait ~1 hour or so.
I haven't tried Souza's Brazilian restaurant, but if it's Brazilian, then there's hardly any way they can mess it up. You've got to be a meat-lover, however, to enjoy the food there.
I'll second the Opaline recommendation. It really is a hidden gem...French, but unpretentious. Hardly anyone knows about it, which seems to keep the standards up. They only do pre-fixe on Valentine's Day, but the food and service were wonderful. Fresh, inventive food, and careful (but non-obsequious), considerate service.
I wouldn't, however, recommend NECI. I really don't get why people recommend this place. I've been several times and have never enjoyed my meals. I found the food insipid and derivative, the service spotty at best, and the noise levels too obtrusive. You can do much better.
I also wasn't terribly impressed with Single Pebble. It's good food, but very "Americanized" Chinese, as is the Five Spice (it poses as pan-Asian, but, having lived in Asia, I found it over-priced and over-spiced). For simple and inexpensive noodles and curries, I like Pacific Rim a lot. It is decidedly casual, though.
I've heard good things about Smokejacks and Trattoria Delia but haven't been. Good luck!