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Where Did You Go For Valentine's Day (If Anywhere)?

We went to the Elephant Walk in Cambridge last night, and except for a blip or two, it was a terrific experience. They had the option of a fixed price tasting menu (which my GF did) or ordering off the normal menu (which was what I did).

Apps were good--the pork spring rolls were nice and meaty, while the wild mushroom soup with sherry and brown rice had a complex, exotic flavor.

The entrees were excellent, though my GF's center-cut sirloin was cooked rare (she had ordered medium), so it was sent back to be cooked better. My dish--the mee siem au poulet (chicken with rice noodles, egg, and a variety of veggies) was outstanding, though I made the mistake of ordering it extra spicy, and I am paying the price for that move.

Desserts included a delicious chocolate truffle cake and a rather odd (but good) creme caramel with pandan leaf that smelled kind of like a gym locker room but had a taste that was like a mix of red bean and hazelnut.

The place was packed, with an interesting mix of beautiful people, earthy crunchy folks, older couples, and young MIT types who looked like they might be fans of Weezer or Radiohead.

Overall, a very nice experience, and one that wasn't your typically crazy madhouse that happens so often on Valentine's Day.

Where did other folks go? Any really nice spots?

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  1. The GF and I went to Grotto. Typically terrific meal. Duck meatballs and gnocchi and short ribs and lobster bolognese and duck three ways and dense chocolate cake and banana bread pudding and lots of wine.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Bostonbob3

      Sounds good! I really need to try those short ribs one of these days. We went to Grotto last year for Valentine's Day. It was excellent, and actually felt kind of quiet and mellow, considering.

    2. Wife and I went to EVOO. They had an excellent four course offer with wine pairings for $100 per person. Everything was great (really no disappointments) and the wine pairings were not only generous pours but also worked very well with the dishes. I love this place and will be back again soon!

      1. Hubby and I went to L'andana Grill in Burlington. It's pretty new, so our first time there. I was pretty impressed with the food - classic Northern Italian with twists. I had carpaccio, but instead of parmesean, they had gorgonzola and horseradish on it - yummy! The broccoli rabe, instead of just garlic and oil, had garlic and chilis. Hubby had the duck in blood orange sauce over parmesean risotto - very yummy, though he likes his duck crispier than they made it. The service staff was a bit junior, but they did just open - the service was great, but not as polished as I would expect. The wine list was quite nice with a decent list of half bottles which let us choose more than one to complement our meals. Also, not over the top price-wise, I'd definitely go back with friends.

        1. Please forgive the preemptory interruption, but for posters who want to discuss what they cooked at home, please post on the Home Cooking board, where there is a thread in progress on that subject:

          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/488303

          Thank you!

          1. Shiki. I'd say our experience was in line with most of what I've read out here - good to excellent food, spotty (but friendly and apologetic) service.

            We arrived promptly for our 8:00 reservation, and found ourselves standing in the doorway with four other couples who'd done the same. Got seated about 8:20, and ordered six small dishes and a small bottle of good sake. Turns out they didn't have one of our choices, so we substituted - no problem.

            We got one dish about 20 minutes after ordering (not bad on a crowded night), but then had to wait almost an hour for the next dish to show up. 20 minutes after that three more dishes arrived all at once. The sixth never arrived at all, which was just as well, we were full by then, and they took it off the bill.

            As for the food, we had:

            Scallop tartare wrapped in smoked salmon - very good, though as at least one poster has mentioned, the strongly-flavored (and truly excellent!) salmon overpowers the scallop, so it's best eaten deconstructed, scallop first.

            Fried oysters, a special of the day. They were OK, but not nearly as good as most I've eaten. The coating was surprisingly thick and almost dough-like, covered with panko, and formed into perfect ovals. They were more like little crunchy dumplings with a tiny oyster inside than what I'd normally think of as fried oysters.

            Tuna with natto, our least favorite. This was our first time trying natto, and probably our last - it was weirdly sticky, leaving little spiderweb threads of goo all over the place, and had a slightly nauseating taste (yes, I know it's fermented, but it tasted more like half-digested and the flavor lingered in my mouth until I was finally able to get home and brush my teeth), with a texture somewhere between cooked beans and oatmeal. The tuna with it was small bland chunks. This may have been a good version of natto (natto fans please chime in), but if so it's clearly not to our taste.

            Things picked up with the arrival of the tonkatsu, a pork loin cutlet (the menu actually reads "poklin") fried perfectly crispy and moist, with a dipping sauce that tasted strongly of pomegranate molasses.

            Our last dish was salmon onigiri, a simple but delicious ball of moist rice with a piece of cooked fish in the middle, wrapped in a large sheet of dried seaweed so you can pick it up and eat it by hand.

            All in all an enjoyable meal. I really like what they've done with the decor, the space is much warmer and more inviting than when it was Firenze. We'll definitely be back, though probably not on a holiday.

            1. Vlora had a ridiculous bargain of four course: clams on the halfshell, sicilian arancini or beet salad, bone in one pound ribeye steak with potatoes and rabe or salmon, tiramisu or ice cream, and a free glass of sparking white wine, ...for $45 person. great deal.

              They also had the entire regular menu, so I actually opted for the flat iron steak frites which was fantastic.

              1. We went to Fireplace in Brookline. It was great (aside from some very odd pink and white baloon sculpture - but that didn't detract from the food)! I wasn't expecting it to be fabulous on Valentine's Day, but it was very good and we didn't feel rushed. Boyfriend had caesar salad and filet mignon, I had butternut squash bisque with roasted chestnut cream & pumpkin seeds (vegetarian and very good) and crispy potato gnocchi with roasted tomato basil sauce, sautéed spinach, asiago cheese & pine nuts. Dessert was chocolate lava cake w/ cranberry-orange compote. There wasn't much "lava" in the lava cake, but it was very tasty and was served with vanilla ice cream. I had a nice glass of Claret, the BF had a cabernet sauvignon which he said was decent but not great - but I can't remember now teh specifics on either. With the bill they brought out chocolate covered strawberries that we were too stuffed to eat (but took home). With a generous tip it was about $130 - not cheap, but not too bad considering the quality and quantity of the food and the good atmosphere.

                  1. re: Bob Dobalina

                    Went to Harvest, my first time there. They had a Valentine's Day menu, 3 courses (ab out five choices each) for $70 which I found a bit pricey. The food though was excellent and the four of us all very much enjoyed our meals. I started with sweetbread ravioli, moved onto the Confit of Giannone Chicken with smoked bacon gnocchi, and ended with the cheese plate. The dishes were good-sized, nice presentation, and a good blend of tastes.

                    The others in my party had the tuna tartate and lobster salad appetizers, both very well done and tasty. Other entrees including the Grilled Long Island Duck Breast and Roasted Atlantic Halibut.

                    1. re: Bob Dobalina

                      Great review, Bob D. I live a couple of blocks from Grezzo, and as much as I likes me meats, I am looking forward to experiencing this place.

                      1. re: Bostonbob3

                        Thanks - I would love to read your impressions, BB3 - Plus, my radar always could use a little fine tuning.

                    2. Went to East Coast Grill since we wanted something on the casual side. They had a whole Barry White thing going on for V-Day.
                      No fixed price option, but a page of specials for the night which we ordered exclusively from. Started with Lamb ribs - cumin encrusted (if I remember correctly) with a cucumber and feta salad. Not a lot of meat on the bones, but really tasty. Also had the shrimp and lobster ceviche with some amazing tostones. Our entrees were a 16oz Cowboy steak - a bone in Porterhouse - that came with broccoli rabe and probably some really good fries. Also had the "incredible golden Tilefish" - something I hadn't had before. It was rubbed and seared and came with a slightly sweet and spicy shrimp and sesame sambal, an incredible pork fried rice made from bits of burnt ends and ribs, and some chili green beans. It was a great night and just the type of atmosphere we were looking for.

                      1. We went to Small Plates. I love it there more each time I go. They had a $40 prix fix menu that was incredible. Menu is here, on the last page http://www.smallplatesrestaurant.com/....

                        As usual, the service was perfect. The restaurant was full but not overly busy and we still had attentive service. I never got the sense they wanted to rush us out to get another table in. It reminded me that it is possible to enjoy a nice Valentine's meal.

                        1. After buying the wife a new microwave oven at walmart, we went to IHOP and had some pancakes.
                          i reminded her of past valentine's though, when we were a lot younger, when Valentine's day was a big red letter day, and yes those were the good old days, but different piorities now!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: openonymous

                            There's something oddly appealing about the night you had. :-D

                            The big question: Boysenberry or blueberry on the pancakes?

                          2. I have to say I'm pleasantly surprised at all the positive V-Day experiences here. I generally treat it like New Year's Eve or Mother's Day, one of the Restaurant Hell Days to be avoided, as I did again this year. Glad folks had a good time: a suck V-Day meal is indeed a terrible thing.

                            1. New Jumbo Seafood on Hudson Street with 10 family members. So romantic!

                              Food was much better than I expected. The portion was exceptionally big. They gave us free beer and soda and kept reminding us of this compliment when they handed us the bill. The total bill came to $280 including tips.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: sheila

                                Takeout pho from Pho Ha on Beech Street followed by little coconut tarts from a bakery in Chinatown.

                              2. Worked our way down Mass Ave without reservations looking for something casual - too busy at Ixtapa Mexican, full up at Something Savory, so we had our..first time ever dinner at Jimmy's Steerhouse -- no waiting, ate at the bar, great margaritas served by friendly efficient bartenders, tasty fried calamari/marinara, great Sirloin strip, and solid steak tips w/broiled scallops - total check $52 for two - what a great experience, can't wait to go back soon. I also think the average age was much lower given the special occasion.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: rlh

                                  Oh, Jimmy's! We always joke - hey, it's 6pm - after the dinner rush is over! I think the avg age lowers after 7pm. We were at home for V Day, but given a choice I would have kept going to Katmandu Spice!

                                2. My husband and I went to Gargoyles on the Square (Davis Sq., Somerville) for the first time. The tables were a bit close together for my tastes, but otherwise it was a great romantic setting. It looks like Gargoyles ordinarily tends to skew towards Asian flavors (although who can tell, since they're bringing back Italian night) but the fixed-price menu didn't show any discernible influences. I found the menu choices rather heavy, in fact (sweetbreads, steak tacos, braised pork w/mushroom bread pudding, steak for two). We got the brie and crab fondue appetizer for two, which came with gougeres...while yummy, there was quite a bit of it and there's nothing like melted cheese to start to make me drowsy. We both opted for the halibut with clams casino and roasted peppers (perfect) and decided not to order the "chocolate sampler for 2" for dessert - it sounded like way too much of a good thing. Instead, he had the Meyer lemon cheesecake and I had the butterscotch cream pie, which came with macadamia brittle. We were both very full afterwards - not really in the mood to do much of anything except go lay down and doze off. Which runs contrary to the occasion :-)

                                  Rlh, that's good to know about Jimmy's Steer House. I live in Arlington but not have made it there yet. Looks like it's a very popular place with the locals.