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2009: The Great Valentine Restaurant Rebellion

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Leper Feb 12, 2009 08:50 PM

Hey Chowhounds, My non-scientific survey of friends and co-workers indicates a quiet Valentine Day rebellion against restaurants that overbook and turnout total dreck on Valentine's Day. In fact, I know of NO ONE who going to a restaurant this Saturday, February 14th! I personally am joining the movement having had several years of consistently bad food and service on cupid's birthday. It will be crab and champagne at home while others naively experience an abysmal dining experience that is certain to threaten their relationship and envoke the frightening possibility of forever tainting their future as Chowhounds sharing a sacred culinary journey reduced to a never ending nightmare of Olive Garden breadsticks and salads. Chowhounds, save yourselves.

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  1. p
    pepperqueen RE: Leper Feb 12, 2009 11:00 PM

    We thought about going to a winery to have a great dinner and we would also have to book a hotel. Best husband really wanted to do this for Valentines. We talked about it and I estimated our dinner at over $400 and to me it made no sense. We are having a roasted duck ( I got 3 ducks at Christmas for .99 per lb) and wild rice at home for about $10. We will have very good wine for $10 or so a bottle instead of $40 for the same wine and we won't have to wait for a table or put up with noise. We will have our own music.

    1. f
      filth RE: Leper Feb 13, 2009 02:56 AM

      I generally agree with the "stay at home on VD" sentiment. However, I note that, almost always, the proponents of "stay at home" fail to account for the labor involved with buying ingredients, cooking them (which many of us enjoy), and cleaning up.

      1 Reply
      1. re: filth
        m
        MrsT RE: filth Feb 13, 2009 08:08 AM

        I'm also in the stay at home camp, but shopping for the ingredients is also part of the fun of preparing a meal. I also think you can come up with interesting ways of cleaning also to make it less tedious. Maybe I'm crazy, but lately, I've been enjoying cleaning my kitchen as I cook. I get a sense of accomplishment when after a full day of cooking & baking, that my kitchen is clean.

      2. j
        jujuthomas RE: Leper Feb 13, 2009 05:53 AM

        I pretty much boycott V day anyway. It is a totally commercial "holiday" that has outlived its purpose ( whatever that originally was). I've finally convinced DH NOT to spend $75 on roses that will die in a few days, and I refuse to go out to dinner on that night because the restos are so overcrowded. We will be grilling steaks at home and enjoying each others company, as we normally do on weekends. :)

        1 Reply
        1. re: jujuthomas
          flourgirl RE: jujuthomas Feb 13, 2009 10:35 AM

          I'm in the same camp. I've never been a fan of the "holiday" myself and talked my husband out of the flower thing years ago (I am going to buy some pretty flowers at the market though, which is something I rarely do.) It'll be a nice dinner at home, me cooking, and DH doing the clean-up. Works for me.

        2. Suzy Q RE: Leper Feb 13, 2009 07:07 AM

          I think a lot of people will be passing on restaurant meals this year due to the economy. I know that I personally am not willing to spend what little spare money I have on a meal that I know probably won't be the restaurant's best effort. And, sadly, Valentine's Day usually isn't.

          1. maplesugar RE: Leper Feb 13, 2009 10:00 AM

            DH and I have been married 8 years now. We spent the first year or two going out to restaurants; one of those had a grand piano parked in the corner, I like piano music, but I don't like it so loud that I can't hear my date.

            This year I'm working Valentine's Day (the fact that amidst cutbacks I ended up with an 8hr shift leads me to think a lot of my coworkers asked for it off) I'm planning a Valentine's Day brunch with DH & the kids and the two of us will go out for a nice dinner another night.

            The other gong show coming up is Mother's Day. DH & the kids usually "save" me from kitchen duty and take me out for brunch, but like VDay, the lines are long and the food is mediocre at best. I'm hopeful DH continues the trend and we celebrate the week before/after :)

            1. BarmyFotheringayPhipps RE: Leper Feb 13, 2009 11:33 AM

              The trick is to have your own idea of what constitutes romantic. Luckily, my wife and I both consider a nice dinner in a little Chinese hole in the wall closer to our idea of "romantic" than dinner at La Maison de la Casa House, Continental Cuisine.

              2 Replies
              1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
                alixium RE: BarmyFotheringayPhipps Feb 13, 2009 09:28 PM

                "La Maison de la Casa House, Continental Cuisine"
                laughed out loud when I read this!!

                1. re: alixium
                  BarmyFotheringayPhipps RE: alixium Feb 13, 2009 09:45 PM

                  I cannot take credit for it: it's one of Calvin Trillin's recurring lines.

              2. rockandroller1 RE: Leper Feb 13, 2009 11:56 AM

                We always go out the night before or after instead of on the actual day. Less crowds, no "special" menu, and more fun for severs and diners.

                2 Replies
                1. re: rockandroller1
                  l
                  Leonardo RE: rockandroller1 Feb 14, 2009 05:38 AM

                  Here's a relevant article from The Onion:
                  http://www.theonion.com/content/news_...

                  Valentine's Day 2009
                  Nation's Couples Descend On Nation's Rotating Restaurants
                  February 13, 2009 | Issue 45•07

                  INDIANAPOLIS—Looking to experience the kind of timeless, romantic atmosphere that only a ring-shaped, 50-foot-tall, motorized eatery can provide, millions of lovers flocked to the nation's roughly two dozen revolving restaurants this Valentine's Day. The couples—whose deep love for each other could only be expressed by consuming an overpriced meal near a large window while traveling almost imperceptibly around a fixed circular path—packed panoramic restaurants from New York to Seattle. "The wife and I saw the whole town," said Howard Watts, who visited the Eagle's Nest restaurant in Indianapolis with his spouse, Sheila. "The Motor Speedway, the interstate. Everything. Making one full rotation every 47 minutes reminded us why we fell in love." According to analysts, the nation's singles were still happy to spend the holiday microwaving things that can be eaten over the sink.

                  1. re: Leonardo
                    LindaWhit RE: Leonardo Feb 15, 2009 03:36 PM

                    OMG, this was great!

                2. c
                  cstr RE: Leper Feb 14, 2009 06:45 AM

                  IMO, it's suckers night out. You get herded like cattle, you can't hang and talk cause they need the table for the next herd, the menu is limited and over priced, the food is usually sub-par, the service is aweful. I'll go out when I want and skip the rif.

                  1. LaLa RE: Leper Feb 14, 2009 08:07 AM

                    We are staying in, but it must be pretty busy because I read in the paper for my area only a handful of reservations open.....and they had a pretty long list of places completely booked. Of course we live in a tourist area that has a big marathon going on plus it is a long weekend due to Monday being a holiday so that may account for it being busy in my location

                    I think we may do Brunch tomorrow.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: LaLa
                      Justpaula RE: LaLa Feb 14, 2009 03:42 PM

                      We are also doing brunch tomorrow. For tonight, it is home cooked meal. However, he will be doing it, not me! 98% of the time I do all the shopping, cooking and cleaning. Tonight, he is doing it all. I told him, that I did not want to go out and spend all that money on V-Day dreck, just cook for me and clean up after. And having been on a diet for while, I am happily taking a break for his braised short ribs!

                    2. d
                      duck833 RE: Leper Feb 14, 2009 08:17 AM

                      Every good restaurant in Eugene, Or is booked (not that many of these anyway).. Nice time to be a member of the country club, have reservations with another couple, will bring the wine - only $8 corkage.

                      1. kchurchill5 RE: Leper Feb 14, 2009 04:01 PM

                        I agree.

                        The economy has something to do with it. But I hate V'day out except when first dating, the first time was nice. Also on our 5th, 10th and 15th we went out. But not somewhere fancy ... just a small seafood place or a simple small hole in the wall restaurant who has great food but is out of the way and doesn't contain the commercial long lines and fancy v'day hoopla. One time we went to a local seafood place and just had a broasted oysters and shrimp and shared some blackened fish. They didn't get a big crowd because no specials for valentines. However they did put a single rose on each table.

                        Another a local pizzaria, small little place, we were in Taos, the place looked like a very small barn, 10 tables and had awesome pasta. And the last was a local fish shack that sold bait but always opened for V'Day night. Small town in central FL, Best fried catfish, slaw, potatoes and hushpuppies you could ask for. It you didn't drink beer byob ...

                        The idea is you make your own V'Day. Good food, special someone or special friends, good food and fun.

                        The rest of the time was cooking a nice meal at home. Steak and lobster and a good bottle of wine for two less than for 1 at any restaurant. And roses ... 1 rose or just a simple bouquet of nice flowers. Roses die quick and cost too much. Restaurants are overwhelmed, busy and people take them time to eat so they are over booked. Bad time to go out.

                        Brunch is a great way or breakfast in bed. Go to the beach and have a picnic. Make some fried chicken, a few salads or seafood sandwiches, or go to a park, anywhere ... Do something different and fun. Make it special, not just another dinner out. Be unique and be creative

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: kchurchill5
                          a
                          adamshoe RE: kchurchill5 Feb 14, 2009 04:25 PM

                          kc: will you be my chow-spouse? (oh, look! I just coined a new chow-word...I think ;) )
                          Happy V.D. to one and all, Adam

                          1. re: adamshoe
                            kchurchill5 RE: adamshoe Feb 14, 2009 05:23 PM

                            Live is FL ... sure :)
                            Hey we are both sitting at home on CHOW on V'day. Actually. I was to make dinner for a dear friend, but felt a little under the weather so I would of done something, not very V'day, but still something ... But I don't mind. Watching a movie and chowing --- Oh it that a new chow-word?

                            Happy VD as well. Kim

                        2. h
                          HillJ RE: Leper Feb 15, 2009 09:14 AM

                          We selected a small (number of tables) intimate restaurant, dined early (5pm) and had a wonderful V-day. I made breakfast in bed this morning.
                          With a bit of pre-planning, enjoying V-day out can be just as lovely as you want.
                          We spent $50.00 and had 4 courses.

                          12 Replies
                          1. re: HillJ
                            flourgirl RE: HillJ Feb 15, 2009 11:48 AM

                            A close friend of mine mentioned on the phone the other night that she and her husband were going to a Spanish restaurant near them in Green Book on V-Day precisely because the food and service is always consistent, and the menu doesn't change just because it's a holiday.

                            BTW, was that $50 for BOTH of you?!? If so, that was quite a bargain. :)

                            1. re: flourgirl
                              kchurchill5 RE: flourgirl Feb 15, 2009 11:54 AM

                              I couldn't touch 50 for two down here in FL, not even close.

                              1. re: kchurchill5
                                h
                                HillJ RE: kchurchill5 Feb 15, 2009 12:27 PM

                                kc, I'm in NJ and $50. for two is a bargain for 4-courses here too.

                                1. re: HillJ
                                  kchurchill5 RE: HillJ Feb 15, 2009 12:35 PM

                                  We both need to move, :)

                              2. re: flourgirl
                                h
                                HillJ RE: flourgirl Feb 15, 2009 12:25 PM

                                Yes flourgirl, $50.00 for both.

                                1. re: HillJ
                                  kchurchill5 RE: HillJ Feb 15, 2009 12:33 PM

                                  I need to move!! 25-30 each, no tip and no drinks and no desert here. I'm talking a nice restaurant. I went and had broasted oysters 3 weeks ago with a friend. 25, plus 2 pitchers and an appetizer ... 50.00 just for that.

                                  1. re: HillJ
                                    flourgirl RE: HillJ Feb 16, 2009 05:47 AM

                                    WOW! That's amazing. Would you mind mentioning the name of the place?

                                    1. re: flourgirl
                                      h
                                      HillJ RE: flourgirl Feb 16, 2009 06:11 AM

                                      http://www.chakrarestaurant.com/home.htm
                                      Paramus
                                      We didn't order the V-day price fix. Instead we ask about our own price fix from the 4 course special w/wine they list.
                                      Delicious, intimate as all get out and a great NJ find.

                                      1. re: HillJ
                                        flourgirl RE: HillJ Feb 16, 2009 07:19 AM

                                        Thank you so much! We don't live too close to Paramus, but I think we may have to get on the road to try this place. It looks beautiful too!

                                        1. re: flourgirl
                                          h
                                          HillJ RE: flourgirl Feb 16, 2009 07:31 AM

                                          flourgirl, Chakra was about 45 mins north of us but on our "must try" list for a good while. The restauarant has a wonderful vibe and the food is delicious.

                                          1. re: HillJ
                                            o
                                            OOliver RE: HillJ Feb 16, 2009 04:05 PM

                                            Count me in as one who avoided restaurants this past weekend. A few people I do know who went out Friday and Saturday night said the restaurants (they went to) were busy but not overcrowded. Food was over-priced and sub-par.

                                            Interestingly, one local news media was reporting that restaurants were reporting about a 48% loss in business this weekend...and the weather , unlike the economy, was beautiful.

                                            1. re: OOliver
                                              h
                                              HillJ RE: OOliver Feb 16, 2009 04:39 PM

                                              We had a lovely V-day celebration out; as highlighted up thread. Nor, did it occur to me before reading this post that any "rebellion" existed or that people were avoiding a celebratory dinner that night. Although the restaurant we selected a smaller dining area, the service, the food and the atmosphere were wonderful.

                              3. podunkboy RE: Leper Feb 16, 2009 06:12 PM

                                The few times I've taken the Mrs. out for Valentines it's been to one of our neighborhood places for the regular. I've offered the "special night out" deal, but she really prefers a properly-grilled steak, salad and potato at home. And since we had the kids at home this VD (weekend at the aunt's fell through), that's what we ended up doing. Everyone seemed happy, though.

                                1. n
                                  nkeane RE: Leper Feb 16, 2009 07:33 PM

                                  My GF is in the restaurant industry, and hence always has to work on Vday(sounds strangely and appropriately like Dday). With the added bonus of the idea of going out on "special occasion" nights, ie, NYE, Vday, Easter, etc., are as repugnant to her as a dead bloated racoon along the highway....in june! These nights are called "amateur hour" in our house. And for good reason, she could recount scores of stories of people social ineptness and outright rude/abrasive/cheap/lousy behavior.

                                  1. Seth Chadwick RE: Leper Feb 16, 2009 10:01 PM

                                    Well, my other half and I thought we were doing the smart thing and celebrating V-Day on Sunday. We chose a French restaurant that had a share of raves and made our reservation.

                                    It couldn't have been worse. Since it was "Valentine's Weekend" the restaurant extended its prix fixe menu and we were shafted for $75.00 per person for overcooked food, botched service and a table turn that had us from being seated to having the bill on the table in about 65 minutes.

                                    Ironically, we decided to eat at a Mexican restaurant on Valentines night and had a great meal, wonderful service and all for about $60.00 total.

                                    No more high end places for us on V-Day or V-Weekend or V-Week.

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