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Why do many people still think going out on Valentine's Day is a good idea?

Or any other "special occasion" day like Thanksgiving and Christmas. You get the worst service since restaurants get much busier than what the staff is normally used to, boring prix-fixe inferior to what the restaurant is capable of serving (especially for better restaurants) and strange atmosphere provided by dining rooms full of couples trying to be romantic.

Maybe I'm cynical, but the only benefit would be not having to do the dishes. And maybe I'm a cynic because I've always worked on such holidays being in the industry.

I'm seeing "Suggestions for Valentine's Day in ______ (insert city)" on so many boards here. I think the best suggestion is to stay at home, make a simple and tasty dinner and enjoy the company of your sweetheart without dealing with the fuss of going out on one of the busiest days in restaurant business.

What do you think?

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  1. I always hated working on Valentines day, as customers were extremely demanding, stressed and usually didn't tip well. It should come as no surprise that some of the worse service I have ever had in a restaurant has been on 2-3 days on either side of St.Valentines day.

    I am just as cynical as you are, and I prefer to cook at home than in a restaurant 95% of the time.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Kelli2006

      Not everyone is "home" on Valentine's Day. DH and I always plan our annual Caribbean getaway for that week ;-)
      I'm guessing the reason Valentine's Day is such a popular "eating out" night is the same for most any other holiday. Usually the person doing the inviting is NOT a cook. Like Mothers' Day---Mom is often the best (and most experienced) cook in the family, but it's considered a gift to give her the night off.
      Just a thought...but maybe the tips are so bad because the servers who have to work on "special days" let their cynicism show in their attitude. I HATE the "poor me, I HAVE to work today" attitude. Due to circumstances beyond my control , we eat every Thanksgiving in a restaurant with my in-laws. If the server is friendly and gives good service without the "poor me" attitude, we tip VERY generously. If we get attitude, we let my father-in-law do the tipping :-)

      1. re: Anne

        That's funny - I have had wonderful service on the few Thanksgivings we ate in restaurants. Never a "poor me" - I was probably lucky!

        And I never let DH take me out for dinner on holidays other than the aforementioned Thanksgivings (only 3 out of 18). I'd so much rather stay home and cook a wonderful meal without having to dress up!

      2. re: Kelli2006

        Yep, you get people who only go out to dinner on that day each year or something and they don't know how to act in public, apparently!

      3. I completely agree.

        It is the same as New Year's Eve, which is party time for the amateurs. Last year I was going to meet my husband in LV for Valentine's day and we had dinner res at 10:00 pm, I was flying in at 9:00. It didn't work out, plane had a break problem; therefore Valentine dinner was Del Taco. What can I say, I have denial issues.

        2 Replies
        1. re: septocaine_queen

          yes new yrs eve the busiest night for chinese food
          put your order in 10-48 hrs in advance the food is not as fresh , the fried rice is either dry or burnt,only select item avail. missing items in bag, wrong items in bag

          1. re: septocaine_queen

            "which is party time for the amateurs". You said it! I'll never forget the night my wife and I (from DC) went to the Four Seasons in NYC. Forgot it was the Saturday closest to Valentines Day. White stretch limos with Jersey plates around the block. Clientele - "ba-da-bing"! And lots of stuff coming out of the kitchen well done...by request.

          2. I agree that going out to nice restaurants on Valentines Day, Father's Day, Mother's Day, etc. is always disappointing.

            If I don't feel like eating at home on Valentines Day, we go to our neighborhood Mexican restaurant, which has good Margarita's, decent food, and it's no different on Valentines than on any other day.

            1. Valentine's Day is a special occasion in our house since it's also our anniversary. We both cook well and often, so for us, going out to a nice restaurant where neither of us has to cook or clean up is a treat. We generally plan ahead, make a reservation, and let them know we're celebrating an extra-special day, and we've always had good service.

              That being said, I've seen many, many patrons be absolutely ridiculous about dining out on any holiday - demanding a table without a reservation, bitching about their table's location in the restaurant, or trying to be something they're not to impress a date. We always do our best to be low maintenance and behave as we normally do when we dine out, and assuming our server doesn't cop the "woe is me" attitude, it's a pleasant experience all around.

              1. Let's just say that as a sommelier in an upscale restaurant, we stock Beringer White Zinfandel EXTRA heavily around Valentine's Day...

                13 Replies
                1. re: invinotheresverde

                  And heart-shaped ice cubes for that wine?

                  Wow... that's just got to be discouraging for a wine pro. The owner might not care though... it's all money and it would appear, first-time customers who don't get out much to better places. So maybe the next time they're in they'll be receptive to some other suggestions?

                  1. re: Panini Guy

                    It would be wonderful if you, as the sommelier, are making suggestions in an effort to help educate novice diners. I always appreciate recommendations and even if I have an idea of what I want, I usually always ask for a recommended pairing.

                    Keep in mind, though, that people can choose to take your advice or not - after all, isn't their money as good as anyone else's, no matter what they choose to order?

                    1. re: Suzy Q

                      SQ - not to answer for invino, but that's the difference between the owner and the sommelier. The owner might not care as it's all money. A good sommelier will care, as it's about much more than tips, it's about sharing knowledge.

                      V-Day is probably the least likely day to try "education". Sadly, at least as far as many "dating" couples go, hubris doesn't allow for many guys to be open minded to suggestions as they fear lack of control or looking ill-informed, so they pick names they know (and they might only know two or three) even if the wine is inappropriate.

                      On another day a sommelier might challenge a choice and make another suggestion, but not V-Day as the dynamic is very different and for inexperienced wine drinkers on a rare night of fine dining, it may all be too threatening - the goal is often simply to get through the dinner with enough lubrication to make getting into the "afters" easier. Thus my sympathies for invino and his bottles of dreck.

                      Is that cynical? You bet. It's also, unfortunately, quite common. So best to not say anything unless asked to make a suggestion. Otherwise, it's "Yes sir, we have the white zinfadel. A fine choice I'm sure you'll enjoy."

                      1. re: Panini Guy

                        PG, you hit the nail on the head. As much as most people in the industry really like to educate others about food and wine, VDay really isn't the time to do it. Unfortunately, it's really a turn and burn kind of evening. In fact, I frequently help manage the restaurant on Valentine's Day instead of assisting people choose wine simply because there's usually no need. It's all Rodney Strong Merlot and BWZ.

                        1. re: invinotheresverde

                          So if you're not going to try to offer another suggestion, why be snarky about people ordering Rodney Strong and Beringer? You may find drinking such wine beneath your educated palate, but given the popularity of those wines, others obviously don't have a problem with it.

                            1. re: Suzy Q

                              actually, suzy, i think that was his point. It would be improper to tell people they've chosen a wine that the sommelier or server feels is less-than-excellent. if they ask for Beringer white zin, the only response is, "right away."

                              1. re: nc213

                                And I agree with that. I just think it's wrong to make fun of someone because they order what you consider to be an "inferior" wine.

                                1. re: Suzy Q

                                  Where did you get the idea that he's making fun of them in the restaurant? I saw nothing to indicate that. As I read it, he's simply sharing an opinion about something that happens on V-day in his restaurant here with the CH community.

                                  And folks that are ordering those wines to accompany their expensive V-day meal aren't the type one would expect to find on CH.

                                  Or if they are on CH, they're on the chains forum ;-)

                                  1. re: Panini Guy

                                    Thanks, PG; you really seem to get where I'm coming from. It was simply an observation, and a frustrating one at that, but also "said" tongue in cheek.

                                    Also, I'm a chick. :)

                      2. re: Panini Guy

                        I may have to suggest the cubes to the owners. :)

                        And yes, the owners love selling that schwill, as it has the highest percentage mark up on our list. Purchased for $4.49 a bottle net, sold for $24. Good God.

                      3. re: invinotheresverde

                        Oy...white zin! A long long time ago, I had a date with a (younger) guy who wanted me to pick our wine. When the bottle of old vine zinfandel arrived, he thought the waiter had brought the wrong wine..."Isn't zinfandel supposed to be PINK?" he asked. Needless to say, that was our first and last date!

                        1. re: Morticia

                          I'd like to share that it was our number one seller again this year!


                      4. We don't always go out for Valentine's day. Often, I will make a special dinner at home (one time it was veal sweetbreads as starters, a main of filet mignon and something, and a wonderful chocolate mousse for dessert), but this year we just felt like going out. It is for some of the reasons mentioned already -- not having to cook which I do basically every day, and not having to clean afterwards... no dishwasher around other than me here ;-)

                        It's nice to treat yourselves, and the resto we've booked can be disappointing, but it's been pretty reliable recently ---

                        1. I went out to dinner last year for a special meal on valentines day with some friends...why? because i was single. why should'nt i get to treat myself?? I may even buy me flowers, hehe.

                          I have on occasion however, celebrated a single valentines with an extra good bottle of wine, and a special meal at home. A kind of anti-valentines "me" celebration. And on some occasions, a "cheers to me, i am no longer with the loser" kind of thing, haha.

                          Ok, i've gone OT........It is however, when part of a couple, sometimes nice to get a break from the kitchen yourself, and get waited on and treated special..especially when you're the one who usually does all the gourmet cooking....just doesn't have to happen on Feb 14...AND you should celebrate your sweetie every day of the year.

                          1. We definitely don't do V-day out. It is a MAJOR no in our house. The who thing is just too cheesy for me. We have a tradition of splurging on great crab legs. Sometimes a whole crab boil and most often just the crab...and a dessert! Unfortunately for me, no chocolate as my SO hates chocolate.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Mattkn

                              an SO who HATES chocolate? that's grounds for a breakup for me:)

                              on the rare occasion that i'm in a relationship when feb. 14th rolls around, any guy with whom i happen to be involved at the time has already been forewarned that i detest "hallmark" holidays. much like new year's eve, dining out on valentine's day is another for amateurs. i'd much prefer a romantic dinner at home or a surprise bouquet of sunflowers on a random tuesday. relationships are about appreciating each other every day - not once a year just because the greeting card companies and 1-800 flowers tell us to.

                            2. Not everyone can cook well. Not everyone finds cooking to be enjoyable. Many people associate going out to a restaurant, especially a "nice" one with special occasions and with romance.

                              I think that there are ridiculously demanding customers in every restaurant in the world every day that the restaurant is open.

                              At bottom, I think people go out on Valentine's day because they hope to have a nice meal and a nice time.

                              1. Valentine's Day is very different from Thanksgiving. Traditional Thanksgiving menus are perfect for this situation (easy to make in large quantities and keep delicious over time - that's why they are traditional....) Generally, people are grateful (pun intended) to not have to deal with the usual home-based landmines, so you have a mostly happy crowd. (Christmas can be somewhat similar.)

                                Valentine's Day, by contrast, deals with unrealistic expectations (both culinary and romantic) and has much higher risk of disappointment.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Karl S

                                  Good point. One of the perk of going out for Thanksgiving Day is not having to deal with the craziness of shopping, cleaning the house, setting up, and doing the dishes for a large party.

                                  I live in NYC. My apartment has never been enough to invite my SO and his family. We did go to Jean Georges one Thanksgiving (when I used to work for a restaurant that closed that day!) and had a nice meal.. BUT the meal (everyone had the turkey with foie gras stuffing; I had the venison option) itself was NOT AS GOOD as the usual Jean Georges meal I'd have!

                                  I would have gladly eaten their egg with caviar and garlic soup with frog legs over my venison...

                                2. While I would certainly agree that I usually prefer not ot go to restaurants on extremely busy days, there is a whole other dynamic on Valentine's Day. Unless I've been living under a rock most of my life, Valentine's Day is still mostly a day when one half of a couple is making it a special day for the other half (or even both for the other). Traditionally that includes doing something that doesn't require either one to have to 'work', especially if the one being treated (if that's the case) is the one that would normally cook (where cook=work to that person). [Wow.... how politically correct was that??]

                                  1. I've never really been into eating on Valentine's Day either -- one of the worst restaurant days. I also prefer staying in as well. Perhaps you can call me unromantic but to me, Valentine's Day is just another day. Every day with my DH is special.

                                    I remember going to a restaurant in Boston once. I'm presuming it must have been a special occasion restaurant because I saw miniature cakes with candles being brought out everywhere. The waiter even asked us what special occasion we were celebrating. I said we were just celebrating life. I should have made something up because we didn't get the cake.

                                    1. Maybe you just under estimate the benefit of not doing dishes or cooking. Like other have said there are those out there (and here on Chowhound) who are not good cooks or don't like to cook. I don't think that these people are "amateurs", just people who want a no hassle good meal to celebrate their love of another. I expect a restaurant to be able to put out a good meal everyday and for servers to serve with a smile. If we have to work our best on V-day why should the restaurant industry not do the same?

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: viperlush

                                        The dishes - yes, the dishes. I love to cook, and love to cook for my guy, but a big pile of dishes, or even a small pile, does not a celebratory occasion make. (No dishwasher in my house.) Also, if Valentine's falls on a weeknight, there's not a lot of time to cook and still spend time together. That said, we probably won't go somewhere particularly upscale. We don't have the money for it, for one thing. A local restaurant, not too fancy, followed by something chocolate at home (made the night before) seems about the right speed for us. But I would never judge other people for wanting to go out somewhere spectacular. Most people can't afford high-end restaurants on a regular basis and feel the need for a special occasion to justify the expense. Why not Valentine's? Why so much negativity about something that seems pretty obvious - people like to celebrate the day, silly though it may be, and eating out is an easy and pleasant way to do that?

                                      2. I see again in this thread the notion that people who dine out on Valentine's Day, New Year's Eve and depending on your take, various other holidays are "amateurs." Perhaps those in the industry should try to stop thinking about it that way and just go do their jobs like always and treat customers the way they always do.

                                        It may be more frequent on a holiday to have a customer expect something special....but it's not unique throughout the year.

                                        Lastly, aren't customers sort of, you know, a little bit...vital to a restaurant? Wondering about why people brave large crowds seems reasonable. If it starts to veer off into complaining about people coming to the restaurant, though....seems to be losing the point.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: ccbweb

                                          well, "amateur" can refer to restaurant staff too, and frequently the travails of these holidays can reduce some otherwise very professional people into stressed-out blithering shadows of their normally competent selves. :) when you ask people in the service industry about some of their worst experiences while working, they're apt to get a far-away look in their eyes, and begin by saying "it was mother's day, 1982," "it was a thanksgiving, and there was a packers game," "new year's 2007, a bunch of investment bankers, and the distributor sent us 100 8 oz filets instead of 200 10 oz filets. . ."

                                          it is easy to make a customer feel special on their birthday, anniversary, etc. on a normal work night, a nice mix of experienced diners and regulars and first time patrons arrive, the staff knows how treat people well & they take pride in their roles in people's dining experiences. a birthday, retirement, anniversary dinner etc is a highlight of the evening and the happiness of the special occasion diners is a nice affirmation of the work we do. i think industry workers dread valentine's, new year's, mother's day, etc. because *everyone* in the packed house is having a special event, people's expectations are set very high & there are often other emotional pressures at work (see, it's mother's day, and our family is functional, REALLY!!!). the fact that every decent restaurant is booked full & dealing with many diners who don't "get out" often (or out to nice places-- THESE folks are who are being referred to as "amateurs," not pleasant, experienced diners & regulars, whom the staff are always happy to see), often having to bring in pinch-hitter staff who aren't normally in the mix, special menu, special formats, etc. makes it hard to give the very best service possible to every table. yet all the customers are expecting the very best. and with everyone stressed out & busy, mistakes, accidents, other bad things happen, & then you're the ones wreaking everyone's perfect little evening. someone's mom, or someone's sweetie is unhappy and you've got grown-ups throwing tantrums because everything isn't going the way they've been planning for weeks.

                                          it's the thought of letting many people down, when their expectations are so high, when you know what you're doing and are good at it, dammit. what unanticipated thing is going to go wrong this year? is the distributor going to come through with your special order foodstuffs that are essential to serve your special, set in stone holiday menu that your customers have been looking forward to for weeks, or will they short you like they did last year? it's the stuff of nightmares. it doesn't mean every holiday is a trainwreak every year, or that there aren't establishments that do holiday service very well. these major holidays are essential monetary shots in the arm for most restaurants (esp valentine's day, jan-feb is otherwise the slowest time of the year). but it's normal for restaurant staff to look forward to holidays with some amount of trepidation, and everyone's relieved when they're over for another year.

                                        2. I think holidays are miserable in destination restaurants which are filled with people who are there for the "experience" and not the food. The "see and be seen" crowd ruins it for people who actually enjoy food for its own sake. If you go to a restaurant off the beaten path, especially one where you've been before, you'll have good food and a good time.

                                          I have to say that what bothers me most about Valentine's Day celebration is the mandatory-ness of it all. Last year in New York, we had a horrible snowstorm that morning, yet all the girls were still on the subway in their red pumps, slushing through several inches of freezing mush. I mean, really, if you have a date that you can't reschedule due to inclement weather or can't show up to in boots, it's not a date worth having.

                                          1. I was a waiter for many a Valentine's Day, and while it was a different sort of day it wasn't overall any worse or better. A few customers were more demanding (thinking they were showing off, probably), and a few were less (wanting to be left alone). The menus, generally speaking, were more limited but the food no less good for that.
                                            Turnover was less but checks were bigger, washing out to about the same in tips.

                                            I could say that I was more, not less, sensitive to customers' moods, because -- on the greedy side -- with fewer turns I wanted bigger per table tips, and on the romantic side I felt it was incumbent on me to help provide a special time. But really, it mostly was another day at work.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Richard 16

                                              We have a favorite Italian that we frequent often. We went there for T-giving and had a wonderful meal and service (full menu and good wine). We will probably go there for Valentine's Day as well. Maybe we're lucky as we dine fairly early as we have our 11 year old g-son with us now. We had dinner with 12 people on New Year's Eve in Orlando at The Outback Steakhouse (not the chain - the one in the Buena Vista Palace). The food and service were quite good and they were offering a deal on Silver Oak Cabernet - yea!!!!

                                            2. As DH and I are socially contrary, we don't celebrate VD. I get people to not feel sorry for me by telling them that our anniversary is a week later and we usually make a 4 day holiday of it and eat very good all of those days :-) And that our anniversary is a personally meaningful day for us that we choose to celebrate, rather than a made up one.

                                              1. We don't usually go out on Vday, Mother's Day, etc. But I want to go out this Vday - don't want to cook and wash dishes, or deal with the kids. I'll just make sure we have low expectations. :)

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: Cindy

                                                  I'd much rather stay in and get a pizza.

                                                2. I think the best thing to do if you are going to go out, is choose a restaurant with limited seating so the atmosphewre remains intimate.

                                                  Staying home is also a good option, and it all depends if you have kids, how old they are, if they can be put to bed, or if you want to share it with them, I would stick with a small exquisite restaurant.

                                                  1. For us, going out for V-day IS the present. We're both foodies on a budget but we'll splurge on one of the Zagat Top 50 as a gift. Also, he's a doctor (still in residency) so we never actually get to go out on the 14th anyway!

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: NYCfoodgirl

                                                      But not going out on the 14th is a good thing! We often will go out on the 15th. less crowds, more attention, the staff are much more chill! Some of our fondest memories are of great meals the day after Valentine's Day.

                                                    2. In June, we will celebrate our 9th wedding anniversary. I think we went out once for V-day but I can't remember if it was before or after we were married. I recall where we went -- Michael's in Santa Monica. We had a beautiful table on the patio. Great dinner, wine, etc. Really a lovely experience. Ever since, though, DH prefers to play in a poker tournement that is scheduled every 2/14 and I never object to that. I think the high prices, crowds, expectations, etc make it tough - especially if it falls on a week night.

                                                      1. Sorry P - my anniversary *is* on Valentine's Day! We happily go out, usually somewhere out of town, and celebrate every year. But then again we're also really easygoing, and rarely get too torqued about having the "perfect" Valentine's Day experience.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: Suzy Q

                                                          I think you've maybe hit on the precise source of much of the dissatisfaction--not just with V-Day, but with just about everything. We're always looking for *the perfect* Valentine's Day experience, *the perfect* vacation, *the perfect* Christmas present, *the perfect* Christmas dinner, *the perfect* whatever. Ain't gonna happen, and you'll make yourself miserable trying. There's no such thing as *perfect.* Do the best you can, and make up your mind to enjoy it. Unless it's absolute crap, you'll probably have a good time, and even if it *is* absolute crap, you'll probably find something to laugh about later.

                                                        2. sorry PD, don't agree with part of your argument.....i think couples that have been married for years and years, if they want to be like "new sweethearts" and do Valentines Day, then have at it. If Valentines Day is meant to be a celebration of love, then those who have loved the longest should celebrate too !!! My parents have been married for 47 years and I'd love to hear that these two "sweethearts" went out for a Valentines celebration!!

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: im_nomad

                                                            I agree with you. I was merely trying to put perspective on the situation where everybody was hating the crowds, bad servers, food, etc. My anniversary happens to be on March 10th and is usually in the beginning, middle or end of Bike Week in Daytona Beach! How's that for a challenge at finding an uncrowded restaurant?? Anyway, we usually try to head to the west coast of Florida to try to get away or just lower our expectations. We're fairly easy going as well, and just turned 55, so we don't look for the "perfect" anything anymore. We just want to be together, enjoy each other's company and have some really good wine and food in an interesting atmosphere with reasonably good service.

                                                          2. We have 3 young kids and any excuse to head out for a quite dinner is a-ok with me. We try and get out to restaurants most Saturday nights, so I always look for restaurants doing a special menu on V-Day (especially with a wine pairing). We've been dining out every V-Day for the past 10 years and have only had 1 bad experience. I'm all for eating at good restaurants, regardless of the circumstance.

                                                            1. Well, I will get ready to take one for this... A group of 8 couples usually head to Maggianno's Little Italy on the weekend that falls closest to Valentines Day. Why? Because its fun. The food is pretty good and they are good about letting us divide up into 4 groups, meaning we get 8 apps, all the salads, 8 pastas, sides, desserts, etc. Its 50 bucks plus tip for him and I and we are with our good friends. A couple of good bottles of wine, the zucchini is AMAZING as well as the chocolate creme brulee, I don't have to be too gussied up to go there and the service is always good.

                                                              Try not to slaughter me too much for going to the lowly chain!

                                                              1. At least around here (Wichita KS area), Valentines Day is an excuse for restaurants to implement a "special menu" (reduced choices, higher prices) or "packaged deals" - Chateaubriand for two, dessert, 2 glasses of wine and a rose for some ungodly inflated price.
                                                                5 out of 7 VD's I'm at work nights, so I take my wife out for a low-stress lunch. If it falls on the weekend, I cook her something nice and do the dishes afterwards. She's not really big on public romantic events, anyway.

                                                                7 Replies
                                                                1. re: podunkboy

                                                                  I work at a restaurant in the Wichita area. The restaurant I work at does a "special menu" on Valentines Day, but we don't make extra money by using a "special menu" on Valentines Day. We have four menus that you can select from according to your taste and budget. The reason we do "special menus" (that are pre-ordered by the customer when the reservation is made) is because we want our kitchen to be able to run smoothly on such a busy and important night and because we want to offer our customers something unique that they wont be able to order any other time of the year. We give each reservation two hours for their meal so that they have plenty of time to relax and enjoy the evening, and especially eachother. I know that going out isn't for everyone on Valentine's Day but we want to help make the night memorable (in a good way :) ) for those who do choose to spend part of their Valentines evening at our restaurant.

                                                                  1. re: ljferris

                                                                    "We give each reservation two hours for their meal so that they have plenty of time to relax and enjoy the evening, and especially eachother"

                                                                    What happens if they're there more than 2 hours?

                                                                    1. re: BatMan

                                                                      Doesn't sound like it's an "all you can eat buffet" ;-)

                                                                      Really, unless one is talking about tasting menus at five-star restos (Per Se, TFL, Inn at Little Washington, etc.), it's kind of tough to take two hours to dine. You'd really have to work hard at dilly-dallying.

                                                                      1. re: BatMan

                                                                        I've got to 'event' type of things at a local restaurant and they make a point of noting that your reservation is 2 hours long. It isn't like they're going to boot you at exactly the 2 hour mark (and it has never been a problem for me anyways, although I've been close) but at the same time I figure that since they tell you that up front that you should show some class and respect it.

                                                                        1. re: jgg13

                                                                          That's fair. I can't imagine too many normal meals taking much longer than that anyway.

                                                                          1. re: jgg13

                                                                            jfood has absolutely no problem with the 2-hour turn-over with the following caveats:

                                                                            1 - it is disclosed at reservation
                                                                            2 - the clock starts when jfood is seated
                                                                            3 - if there is a delay due to the fault of the restaurant then they cannot expect the customer to suffer. this is focussed on a kitchen error where a meal has to be refired.

                                                                            other than that it is consideration both ways

                                                                            1. re: jfood


                                                                              In the exact case I'm talking about, they tell you both when you make your reservation and when you check in. And while I've never had a problem w/ that time limit, I've also never seen anyone hassled - and since they have multiple seatings throughout the night, its obvious thatp eople "run over" as each seating gets progressively a little later and later. For this place, on #3, everything is so well orchestrated that this is never a problem (the whole point is that you're essentially at the chef's whim, so it's harder to play the "I don't like how this is prepared!" card for most cases)

                                                                    2. My birthday is the day before Valentine's Day. We never seemed to have a problem years ago to go to a good restaurant to celebrate. But, I find now, the Valentine's "special" menus are offered days before and after the exact date. So, I feel ripped off.....I want to go to a great restaurant and order what I want!

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Deborah

                                                                        Why don't you just pick an entirely different date to celebrate? A lot of people I know who have birthdays around Christmas just celebrate at an entirely different time of year.

                                                                        1. re: PDeveaux

                                                                          I have a birthday around Christmas (not on it but a few days before) but I want to celebrate the day I was bron on the day I was born. I don't want to jsut pick a random day. I generalyl accept the siituation as it is and make the best of it.

                                                                      2. A couple other people have mentioned it, but there are lots of people who just can't cook. At all. There are even more people who do "survival cooking" for themselves or their family and get by with it but couldn't produce anything approaching a good restaurant quality meal. Or they might not feel comfortable taking a chance with more expensive ingredients. Your simplest recipe for steak, scallop, roasted chicken, seared fish, etc would justifiably or not intimidate the heck out of them.

                                                                        In my experience most people just don't have the confidence or can't cook well enough for a special occasion.

                                                                        1. I agree that staying home is the best idea. Where I live everthing is always so crowded and the selection of restaurants is so poor that I'd rather stay at home and cook up something better myself. I don't have the patience to wait for something that is just ordinary and rather just relax on a holiday instead of making it seem like a rush job. I'm not in the industry but have friends from culinary school who work in it and that whole holiday vibe is usually so contrived it can make you wonder. Anyone going out on the holidays have to be lonely, bored, or uncreative types.

                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                          1. re: picapau

                                                                            "Anyone going out on the holidays have to be lonely, bored, or uncreative types."

                                                                            Oh dear, and all this time I was wondering WHAT was wrong with me. Thank you for those insightful comments.

                                                                            I do in fact enjoy going out on V-day. My SO and I both have demanding schedules (he in particular) and it's a welcome change for us to get out of the routine and celebrate US. If you get good food while out, that's certainly a plus - but this partic holiday is all about who you're with.

                                                                            1. re: picapau

                                                                              If going to a lovely little restaurant with mrs jfood, enjoying a wonderful meal cooked with love and extreme talent, and served by servers who jfood has enjoyed countless times is lonely, boring and uncreative, then jfood pleads GUILTY BABY!!!

                                                                              1. re: picapau

                                                                                LOL...like amanda & jfood...count me & Mr OCAnn as lonely, bored & uncreative!!!

                                                                                1. re: picapau

                                                                                  Wow...thanks for clueing me in on what a boring and lonely person I am. Well hey, at least I'm in good company with amanda, jfood, and OCAnn. Hey you guys, maybe we can all go out TOGETHER so we won't be such lonely losers? Because otherwise, I'm so uncreative that I just wouldn't know WHAT to do with myself.

                                                                                2. I agree w/you that the best suggestion is to stay at home....

                                                                                  but, but, but...regardless of who cooks, I clean...and I don't like cleaning on special days where it's just me & Mr OCAnn. Plus, since it falls on the weekday, I won't have time to cook a special meal. Eating out on Valentine's might be cliche, but it certainly fits my bill this year.

                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: OCAnn

                                                                                    We like to go out on Valentine's day simply because it's fun. We make a reservation, don't go somewhere extremely upscale, and enjoy ourself. We usually go to places that we already frequent and serve their normal menu on Valentines Day. We also like to go early to avoid the rush. We have reservations at 5:30 on V day and my wife is very much looking forward to it, as am I. We also rarely eat out during the work week so that makes it even more of a treat for us.

                                                                                    1. re: Rick

                                                                                      We like to avoid the dinner rush as well and our reservations are @ 17:30 too.

                                                                                      1. re: Rick

                                                                                        that actually would be my choice for v-day, if i wasn't working-- to go to a mid-range place that is *not* doing a special v-day dinner, just their regular menu. if you close your eyes and think about the place with the best food and least romantic atmosphere that you know, it's probably a good bet for v-day--you'll get good food, good service, and won't be rushed, so you can just enjoy each other.

                                                                                        1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                          Well, the idea of a reduced, 'fixed menu' has scared me off. We're waiting until Saturday.

                                                                                    2. I will not go out on Valentine's Day. Hub is on a biz trip, getting in late...I will make something homey. And go from there. :-)

                                                                                      But! It is important to some! I hold up my College Son and his girlfriend, and my Teenaged Daughter and her new Boyfriend. Because I do nothing big for V-Day, I am giving my kids gift certifs to use to take out their sweethearts. It IS important to some (yes they may be the younger among us often). Neither of my kids can actually use the certifs on 2/14 for various reasons(class schedules), but they know they can plan for a nice dinner (sandwiches/noodles/what-have-ya)in the week or so to come. They are thrilled. VDay gift from Mom translates into slightly post VDay gift to their sweethearts, and everyone gets fed, local restaurants get $$, and, well, there's a warm-fuzzy around the whole thing.

                                                                                      Valentines aren't soooo bad, are they?

                                                                                      1. People are getting so heated in this thread (possibly 'hot' is a theme for the holiday ?) but I don't think the question is: 'Why celebrate Valentine's Day?' but, that 'As a group of people who appreciate food and the dining experience, and as a group who likely recognise that on such a busy night, service, menus and possibly the overall experience can be compromised-- how many of this group still find going out on this particular night a good plan?'

                                                                                        On VD restaurants can change their menus and approach, particularly if the place is flooded with those with outsize expectations of what a dinner out is supposed to deliver; they may get excessively angry with what are perceived as sleights and change the feelings of a place-- or tax the emotional resources of even the most excellent of servers.

                                                                                        But really, with all the hassle of finding a place and assuring a pleasant evening out on VD, I can think of many other days out of the year when I would venture out. I can think of other things to do and eat, I suppose, rather than join the desperate folks (not you) who throng in the restaurants, desperate for the one magical, romantic, culinary experience---- until NYE, that is.

                                                                                        1. Ok, I don't know if anyone has already suggested this. Start early and get a caterer to do your cooking and eat at home. There's one in Daytona Beach called Chef Papa's who recently circulated a catering menu just for Valentine's Day with lots of chocolate items!

                                                                                          1. My husband and I aren't romantic types, at least as far as dates on a calendar are concerned (we've both forgotten our wedding anniversary a number of times, for instance). One year, we went to a local pub for a hamburger, but were surprised to realize that it was V.D., and there was a huge crowd and a "special" menu. I think that it was filet mignon and shrimp cocktail or something, and they had candles on the tables,one glass of complementary champagne, and each "lady" got a single rose. It was corny as hell, and you know what? It was great fun. I guess it was mostly because we had no expectations, but Valentine's Day IS a really cheesy holiday, and sometimes it's best to embrace the cheese.

                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: igrove

                                                                                              igrove: now cheese is something I can get behind on VD! But I'd like a little sliced fruit with it..and some good greens!

                                                                                              1. re: cayjohan

                                                                                                I love cheese in all its forms!

                                                                                            2. The worst restaurant experiences in my life have been on V-day. One time a heavy rocks glass was knocked off of a balcony and landed on my girlfriends head. Blood, egg sized lump... The restaurant did nothing, not even call an ambulance or offer to help or comp.

                                                                                              Had several times where it took over an hour to get served anything, except beer. By the time food came we were trashed.

                                                                                              Was once in a Japanese place with tatami rooms on vday when all of a sudden a couple fell through the paper wall into our room from theirs while having sex.

                                                                                              On Vday once I managed to get a fish dish that was half burnt and half raw, and none of it edible.

                                                                                              Once was told that we would have to wait a few minutes for the table we had reserved. Every ten minutes we were told five minutes more... they comped us a few drinks at the bar... two hours went by before we finally left.

                                                                                              One time as were entering the restaurant we both got knocked to the ground as two guys beat each other senseless. A girl had made dates with both of them to make sure she had a date... and forgot to cancel one.

                                                                                              I don't do v-day at restaurants much anymore.

                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: JMF

                                                                                                "Was once in a Japanese place with tatami rooms on vday when all of a sudden a couple fell through the paper wall into our room from theirs while having sex."

                                                                                                And that was one of the worst restaurant experiences of your life? LOL! I'd be laughing my head off and call that one for the record books. But then I have a twisted sense of humor. :-)

                                                                                                1. re: JMF

                                                                                                  If I knew I would have such exciting dinners, I would go out for Valentine's Day dinner all the time!

                                                                                                2. Mr. Morticia and I both work in the industry, and absolutely detest "amateur nights" like Valentine's Day and New Year's Eve. This year, since VD fell on one of our regular nights off, we had a dilemma - and since I had an all-day appointment, neither cooking at home nor our usual "bike ride and a picnic" Valentine were possible. We ended up going out for a late dinner at one of our usual places - the kind that don't mark up their prices for holidays and that the usual idiots don't even know about. It was good, special to us, and avoided the hype. That's the way to do it!

                                                                                                  7 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: Morticia

                                                                                                    Why all the antagonism, Morticia? You call it "amateur night" and talk about the "usual idiots"...perhaps you should look for another line of work if you find your industry's customers so offensive.

                                                                                                    Our V-day was fine and far from the nightmare that so many assume exists. Mr. Q was working out of town and since we didn't know if he'd be back in time for dinner, we did not make a reservation for Thursday night. He ended up catching an earlier flight and was home in time for dinner, so we headed out to a small local Italian place around 7 p.m. We waited a little less than a half hour, understanding of the fact that they were working us in around reservations, and ended up having a lovely meal. Was the wait staff a little busier than usual? Of course they were, but we expected that on V-day. I think the key is that we had realistic expectations, and ended up having a decent dinner.

                                                                                                    1. re: Suzy Q

                                                                                                      I don't get the antagonism either. We went to our usual Italian place (upscale not hole in the wall) and had, as usual, a wonderful meal. Our waitstaff was just as good as always and were very cheerful. Sorry for your employer Morticia if that is your attitude. The waitstaff at this restaurant are ALWAYS friendly and good. The place was a little crowded with people waiting at the bar but we were not rushed. The piano player was very good and he was laughing and joking around as usual.

                                                                                                      1. re: Suzy Q

                                                                                                        Suzy Q, I assume that you don't work in the industry if you are upset by typical thoughts and jargon used by those who do.

                                                                                                        Those nights mentioned really are amateur night. People going out and try to impress each other. Drinking way too much, acting up, showing off, feeling self entitled, testosterone and estrogen pumping like crazy. It reminds me of all those weird animal courtship behaviors you see on the Discovery Channel. Rams and mountain goats head butting each other, birds dancing and prancing and flashing plumage, sneaky plays back and forth to attract a mate.

                                                                                                        Then you have those who have not made reservations and then get upset because they feel that they are special, and since they go out so seldom that the restaurant is at fault and ruining their 'special night.' causing scenes and lots of drama. The other side is those who double or triple book and are a no show. This happens so much, especially on the several amateaur nights that restaurants have to overbook just to insure they have enough covers for the night. Then of course there comes along a twist of fate and all the folks decide to go to the same restaurant. V-day is known for this probably more than any other night of the year. Either there is a full house with total craziness, or half empty.

                                                                                                        If you don't work in the industry and have no real inside knowledge maybe you shouldn't be so judgemental of those who are. People who do have a calling to it or leave it soon. It's one of the toughest jobs there is, with low pay, long and hectic hours, lousy benefits, and they get treated lousy by a good percentage of the clients.

                                                                                                        1. re: JMF

                                                                                                          As someone who has been in the restuarant business for 25 years I can agree wiyh alot of what you say but I think that what people are responding to is Morticia's tone. I, too get frustrated with the no-shows, the drama and the entitlement. I wouldn't, however, voice my opinion in those particular terms (especially on a site like CH) knowing that some people already have a picture of servers/bartenders as being selfish, greedy and whiney.

                                                                                                          1. re: JMF

                                                                                                            Never assume that someone doesn't work in the industry.

                                                                                                            Those who do work in the industry also know that it's dismissive and shortsighted to approach one of the biggest days of sales in a year in such a manner. It shows in the service and it shows on the plate and it doesn't help make the night better for anyone. Every night of the year there are people who are rude and self-entitled and pushy and interested more in their date or potential mate than the food and service. Its a part of the deal; which you know since you're in the industry.

                                                                                                            Working in the restaurant/food industry doesn't make us better than anyone and to use broad strokes to brush those who would go out to eat on a particular day will get people's hackles up. Reality is, those same people also often have tough jobs with low pay, long hours, lousy benefits and get treated like dirt by many people they have to deal with. That's how a lot of jobs go.

                                                                                                            1. re: JMF

                                                                                                              I was in the business for *decades*. I obviously don't know where you have worked, but in the several places at which I worked Valentine's Day was different but the overall tenor of the shifts were nowhere as miserable as you seem to have experienced.

                                                                                                              Sure, there are "amateurs", but so what? The menus were different, so there was little different in explanation time. Most obvious "amateurs", at least in my experience, are just trying to have a pleasant night out. A few are lousy tippers, some are great. Some are more demanding, some want to be left alone.

                                                                                                              Either you've been working in a weird place and/or the cynicism level towards newbies is unusually high -- and we know how cynical servers get.

                                                                                                              Valentine's Day was simply a busier night, with a slightly higher then usual newbie ratio. Either you simply take it in stride, or not. Up to you. Quite frankly, I don't how you work with so much antipathy towards these customers. If you have a good tip total, who cares? Not me.

                                                                                                          2. re: Morticia

                                                                                                            I'm with Morticia on this one. Being in the industry is like being a local. You don't usually go to the same places as the rest of the crowd because you have to be around too many of a certain type of person that you don't care to be around otherwise. Its not even about being jaded. If you are a pro, you don't play with amatuers.

                                                                                                          3. February 14th is amateur night. People who feel they have to be romantic one night a year do it that night. I'd rather cook a nice meal at home and avoid the crowds.

                                                                                                            1. to me val. day, mothers day fathers day
                                                                                                              they ain't holidays anyway imho so go out don't go out for me it's all the same
                                                                                                              the only 2 days i will never ever go out on is xmas and t-day (ok we did it once 30 yrs ago the yr my mom passed). the holiday in a rest feels cold and distant, and i feel bad for the rest.help when they would rather be home with family instead of waiting on pains in the ass

                                                                                                              11 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: Morticia

                                                                                                                Hear, hear on the boycotting of traditional holidays bit. But must admit to having a bit of trouble with the "do nice things for your loved ones year round!" ;-)

                                                                                                                I can't imagine going out to eat on major holidays, except for xmas, when it must be Chinese food. But, I really don't understand doing something "special" on V-Day, which seems to be about so much canned sentiment....

                                                                                                                But, to each her/his won, I guess.....

                                                                                                                1. re: baltoellen

                                                                                                                  Hey, what if it's only one of many, many 'excuses' to treat yourself to a nice dinner out? That can't be wrong... and I had a very pleasant v-day dinner, btw.

                                                                                                                  1. re: baltoellen

                                                                                                                    Personally, I can't even conceive of why anyone would want to go out to eat on Christmas. So you see...different people have varying ideas of what's the "best" way to celebrate a special day. Valentine's Day is only about "canned sentiment" if you let it become about that, and you should celebrate it - or not - as you see fit.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Suzy Q

                                                                                                                      Of course....and I meant to say, to each her/his own, of course. And, I probably should think of excuses to treat myself....which would be much more festive han "I feel like it!"

                                                                                                                      BTW, Chinese food on Xmas is a big tradition in some parts of the US!

                                                                                                                      1. re: baltoellen

                                                                                                                        i knew about chinese food on new yrs eve
                                                                                                                        what part of the country are you from if you don't mind me asking
                                                                                                                        if you don't want to say i do understand

                                                                                                                        1. re: foodperv

                                                                                                                          I haven't heard of the Chinese food tradition on NYE, at least outside of Asia....but, anyway, I'm from Baltimore.

                                                                                                                          1. re: foodperv

                                                                                                                            In my experience, the Chinese food on Christmas tradition isn't so much a regional one confined to certain areas of the country: it is more of a cultural one stemming from religious background: going out for Chinese food on Christmas is aka in some circles as 'Jewish Christmas'.

                                                                                                                            1. re: susancinsf

                                                                                                                              I think this is right. I'm from Baltimore and, while I have definitely heard of the chinese food on christmas tradition, I know of no one who does it. And for my family (catholic, so we celebrate christmas) I am certain the idea would never fly. I think the mere suggestion of foregoing our traditional christmas dinner would elicit concerns for the suggest-er's sanity. And I'm ok with that. I love our christmas just the way it is. :-)

                                                                                                                              1. re: charmedgirl

                                                                                                                                Trust me, I learned the hard way that every Chinese restaurant in Pikesville had at least an hour wait on Chirstmas night.

                                                                                                                                1. re: jes

                                                                                                                                  Which sort of makes my point. It's more of a cultural phenomenon than a regional one. :-)