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Did your Valentines Day dining met your expectations? Do you rec it for next year?

chompie Feb 15, 2012 12:19 PM

Ours surprisingly turned out to be exactly what we wanted. It wasnt a Chowish gourmet adventure but that wasnt what we wanted this time around. We had a rough week and all we wanted was low-key, low-price, low crowds, but with some romance and a Valentines day feel and a decent meal. We ended up at Brothers Kouzina in Peabody, a casual but a bit upscale Greekplace. The atmosphere was really nice. They have rasberry colored walls, lamps and linens anyways, dim lighting,and had red balloons and mylar hearts and roses decorating, and they had a guy singing romantic songs from the 40s to the 70s. We had swordfish, baked potato, onion rings, and spinach pie with greek string beans and roasted potatoes. The portions were huge and the varied flavors were really good and fresh.And it was 30 bucks.. I'd say for anyone seeking something thats a compromise between a fancy night out and a non festive early supper before the Valentines crowds rush in, that this was a perfect compromise.. I am always especially interested in hearing about places that have music since its hard to find. I know Cafe Jags in wakefield had a jazz trio. DId anyone eat there?

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  1. Bob Dobalina RE: chompie Feb 15, 2012 12:23 PM

    Love your post - it does not always have to be locally sourced, fancy-schmancy cuisine to be chowish, and festive.

    For my part, I have had enough Valentine's Day menus - so it was a Haymarket Pizza dough (now up to $1.25 sheesh) topped with good things and baked at home, and my knock-off of Oleana's almond cremolata with chocolate panini for dessert.

    1. c
      chompie RE: chompie Feb 15, 2012 12:24 PM

      oh yeah, and for dessert we had stopped first at Tootsies coffeeshop in Wakefield to pick up make your own cupcakes to bring home. They were small, but had a nice homemade flavor, and the owner was very friendly.

      1. MC Slim JB RE: chompie Feb 15, 2012 12:33 PM

        My advice this year (and every year) was, "Save fine dining for next week, after the overpriced prix fixes have gone back into the Restaurant Week closet." I made a bunch of cheap, Chowish recommendations as alternatives for people who insist on dining out on the 2nd or 3rd biggest restaurant shit-show night of the year; that piece is in last week's Phoenix.

        I took Mrs. MC out to a romantic dinner last week, then on the day itself had a nice lunch on my own at Xinh Xinh (fine as always), and cooked dinner at home last night.


        2 Replies
        1. re: MC Slim JB
          yarm RE: MC Slim JB Feb 16, 2012 09:40 AM

          Indeed. We had a great dinner on Sunday night without the crowds, waitstaff rushing you out so they can turn over the table, or other issues. We went to Vee Vee in J.P. that night, and stayed in on Tuesday and made pizza and cocktails.


          1. re: MC Slim JB
            BlueMagic RE: MC Slim JB Feb 19, 2012 09:43 AM

            Agreed...restaurants on Valentine's day are neither Romantic nor fun.

          2. Chris VR RE: chompie Feb 15, 2012 12:58 PM

            I was very happy- lunch was jap chae from H Mart food court, dinner was at home: Maine Shrimp from Fresh Pond Seafood, Legal Seafoods chowder and dessert was from Macaron Sweeterie.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Chris VR
              mcel215 RE: Chris VR Feb 18, 2012 03:20 AM

              Do you get jap chae from the last stall on the left side at H Mart? And does it have a number? I feel very intimidated when I go there, so I never get up the guts to order. Anything else good there? BTW, I cannot read what is on the wall (menu wise), because of my eyesight and don't speak Korean or any other language, other than English.
              Would love some recommendations. Thanks.


              1. re: mcel215
                Chris VR RE: mcel215 Feb 18, 2012 06:25 AM

                Hahaha oh I'm glad you admitted it because I went in there all "I'm going to be adventurous today" and was promptly overwhelmed by all of the options and went with the one dish I have a passing familiarity with. I"ve only had a bit of Korean food and I'm not a total spice head. There are so many options at all the stalls there, and I would love someone who knows more than I do to make some recommendations!

                Yes, it was the stall on the end, I don't remember the number, I just said "Jap chae" and even with my non-authentic pronunciation they were able to figure out what I wanted. It was fine, probably not the best option there- very little actual beef in it, maybe 4 pieces total but the noodles had a nice firm texture and the overall flavor was good. I'm also not always totally sure about the panchan. The kim chi and the beansprout thingy are obvious and but there's a bowl of liquid- is it soup? Do you pour it over rice?

                I looked here when I got back and didn't see any recent threads about the H-Mart food court... maybe it's time to start one!

                1. re: Chris VR
                  mcel215 RE: Chris VR Feb 18, 2012 07:37 AM

                  Great idea, I'll ask for help now on a new thread. :) Thanks, lol!


            2. viperlush RE: chompie Feb 15, 2012 12:59 PM

              If I'm going to celebrate a holiday, I'm going to do it on that day. So we did our usual going out for a "whatever I'm craving that day" (how we celebrate birthday, Vday, and NYE) dinner. Last night it was burritos and chips at el Pelon. Have yet to have a bad meal doing it this way (or the couple years we made fine dining reservations).

              1. s
                smtucker RE: chompie Feb 15, 2012 01:20 PM

                We decided that Valentine's Day was the perfect excuse to finally get to Carl's Sausage in Saugus. Then onto H-Mart to stock the Asian pantry. Made dinner for the "kids" as a way of convincing them NOT to overspend by eating out on an overpriced holiday.

                My kind of day actually.

                1. opinionatedchef RE: chompie Feb 15, 2012 01:22 PM

                  chomp, we actually never go out for Val Day. But Aquitaine emailed us their specials for just the day and they really appealed to us so we went. Had a lovely dinner, as always at Aquitaine. Just LOVE that handsome room. and the servers are always the best. professional, friendly, smiling. smooth, everything smooth. quiet enough for conversation but that's because we were 6:30 and not 8PM! excellent wine by the glass. lamb with vadouvan was terrific and their beet salad with melted boucheron i always have to order. My Love scarfed his huge scallops with sesame oil squash puree and melted fennel.

                  No derogatory notes were appropriate for the experience. No big hype, no shi shi ness. Just a lovely dinner. We left feeling well cared for and happy.

                  1. m
                    Moopheus RE: chompie Feb 15, 2012 01:28 PM

                    For reasons that would likely not interest anyone else, it has become traditional for me to make macaroni & cheese on V-day, and a chocolate dessert, which this year was a chocolate-orange torte. Each of which came out very well.

                    1. c
                      chompie RE: chompie Feb 15, 2012 01:28 PM

                      loving these posts! also love how beets have become the valentines food of the decade:)

                      1. SeaSide Tomato RE: chompie Feb 15, 2012 01:32 PM

                        I don' really like to go out on V-dy itself, so we went to--a place I've been dying, dying to have dinner--Strip T's Sat night (not because MC recommended it as a non-V-day way to celebrate V-day, but he did and he was right on!!) and we loved, loved, loved it.

                        For V-day at home we prepared:

                        Oysters (fun to shuck--say that ten times fast!!)

                        Grilled garlic-rosemary T-bone lamb chops
                        roasted lemon zested asparagus
                        Marsala mushrooms and onions over creamy polenta

                        Mr. Ribeye was in charge of the oysters and dessert and he did an outsanding job--Oysters were great (from Rocky Neck at Milton Marketplace). We never got to dessert. But we'll have leftovers tonight and finally try the gorgeous cake he got at Montillios--chocolate with chocoalte frosting, ringed with chocolate covered strawberries and shaved chocolate on top.

                        Can you tell we like chocolate?

                        Maybe V-day is a "Hallmark Holiday" from which so many industries simply profit, but I 'll gladly take any excuse to celebrate love and romance with good food, wine and the one you love--especially as it's now going on it's third night! What is wrong with that???!!

                        hmm, that's got me thinking about how to turn St. Patrick's Day into a celebration of food and love....

                        1. b
                          bobot RE: chompie Feb 16, 2012 05:21 AM

                          On Saturday night we went to Dumpling Cafe for some dumplings, a movie, and Clio/Uni for cocktails and late-night ramen. Totally met expectations of being not crowded, not rushed, and great food and drink.

                          On V-Day we went to Dok Bua, and I don't think I need to convince Chowhounds that Dok Bua is always the right decision.

                          1. CocoDan RE: chompie Feb 16, 2012 07:13 AM

                            My wife, who is a fabulous cook. made the sauted shrimp while I stood at the stove diligently stirring the mushroom risotto to absolute perfection. Mixed green salad with champagne vinigerette dressing. A little splash of pinot gris, and there you have it. Just as good as downtown; maybe better.
                            Well Enjoyed,

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: CocoDan
                              tdaaa RE: CocoDan Feb 16, 2012 07:34 AM

                              Called our local shaws at 4:30 to steam a 2 lb lobster, cool enough to handle by the time I picked it up an hour later. Picked it, chopped the tail, saved the claws for garnish. Chopped tomatoes, basil, cut the rind off of two wedges of brie and chopped the soft innards. Made crab cakes with extra crab left over from superbowl. Everthing in fridge to allow the whirlwind of picking up kids from various activities, checking homework and bedtime, then in 5 minutes flat boiled fettucine, tossed lobster, basil, brie and tomatoes with pasta in hot pot, fried crabcakes in butter and plated on pinkest plates I had (I kept the pink turkey plate for myself, roses for my wife). It was one of the nicest, quickest valentines dinners ever.

                              1. re: tdaaa
                                Jenny Ondioline RE: tdaaa Feb 16, 2012 10:06 AM

                                Ha! If your local is the Packards Corner store, the seafood guy interrupted serving me to take your lobster order over the phone!

                                I bought three-quarters of a pound of shrimp, which I peeled and snipped into thirds, sauteed in a touch of olive oil until just barely at The Pink Opaque stage and combined with a large piece of cha siu from Kantin, diced, to become the stars of my justifiably-legendary fried rice. Dinner out will be tonight at Shanghai Gate: they're closed on Tuesdays, so it wouldn't have worked even if we'd wanted to go out.

                                1. re: Jenny Ondioline
                                  tdaaa RE: Jenny Ondioline Feb 16, 2012 10:51 AM

                                  Nope. Belmont.... the seafood counter was rockin' however - two people getting live lobsters and two others for fish in front of me. Rarely have to wait in line, although I normally shop late at night to avoid the crowds.

                            2. t
                              Tzonis RE: chompie Feb 16, 2012 11:39 AM

                              I too stuck home and cooked up a theme of red food (though I cheated with the potatoes a bit).

                              Red Bliss mashed with plenty of butter/cream/milk/salt
                              Lobster (from Ming's on Washington St)
                              Strip Steak (sous vide then onto the stode top)
                              Roast Beets

                              Home made Strawberry Sour Cream Ice Cream with hot fudge to finish it off.

                              Everything was tasty but I think next year perhaps dining out in C-town or maybe making pizza.

                              1. Prav RE: chompie Feb 16, 2012 11:41 AM

                                Scampo was, how I've described in this post, a "huge oily disappointment": http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/834051

                                :( </3

                                1. g
                                  Gabatta RE: chompie Feb 18, 2012 04:29 AM

                                  Needed a break from cooking at home, we had two great meals this year.

                                  Neptune Oyster was half empty at noon when we arrived for lunch, and there were seats available when we left as well. We sat at the bar and had great food and at a leisurely pace while having nice conversation with the bartender and waitress. Too bad Neptune isn't always like this. I'm not sure we will ever go for dinner again!

                                  Dinner was takeout from Oishii (CH). No degradation in quality of fish or skimping on portions due to the holiday. The fish was as fresh and expertly cut as ever. When I got there to pick up our order at 6:45p, there were 4 seats available! Maybe people are getting tired of the v-day thing after all.

                                  We avoided the standard dinner out and had some great Valentine's Day dining. Dinner at Bondir on Thu was the real substitute meal and was as fantastic as ever. I am as annoyed at anyone at the difficulty to get a table there nowadays. However, it is nice to see that once you are in, they aren't packing tables or rushing. They space the reservations out to provide a well paced, relaxing meal.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: Gabatta
                                    lipoff RE: Gabatta Feb 18, 2012 06:13 AM

                                    A few years ago I had a really nice, if expensive, Valentine's Day meal at Oishii Boston. I think Oishii does not loose quality on V-Day.

                                    But this year I made Nathan Myhrvold's sous vide salmon recipe:


                                    I do have a sous vide machine and a vacuum bagger at home, so it was even easier than using a big pot and thermometer, but I've done that before to make sous vide eggs and it's not difficult either. Salmon turned out perfectly. It really helps to have a spice grinder though --- mine broke a couple days earlier, and I made the spice butter with a mortar and pestle and that took a long time. The very inexpensive salmon filet ($9.99/lb) at Trader Joe's was wonderful in this dish.

                                    1. re: lipoff
                                      Swankalicious RE: lipoff Feb 18, 2012 10:34 AM

                                      Like the jaded diners that we are, we always order Chinese on V-Day.
                                      However, a close friend dined at Il Casale and gave it a "meh." Reported snooty and slow service, plus prices that didn't match up w/quality. The one dish they did enjoy was broken lasagne.

                                  2. l
                                    lexpatti RE: chompie Feb 19, 2012 06:45 AM

                                    romantic dinner for me is enjoying our favorite food together so although we are in here once a week, Sichuan Gourmet in bilerica is the place for us.....of course it was awesome with dan dan noodles, spicy wings, sichuan green beans, shrimp/garic dish, basil fish and a new sausage dish that the owner John sent out. I really wish they would do a tasting menu.....I WANT EVERYTHING ON THEIR MENU BUT IT's ONLY TWO OF US!

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