Friday, February 4, 2000
The Mosquito's suggestions for dining on Valentine's Day
Valentine's Day has become a bigger special holiday. When I was growing up, I don't remember my parents going out to eat, but I do remember a special treat from them to me. I remember in grade school making the valentine box into which we "mailed" the valentines to our friends, teacher, and secret pal, with the anticipation of getting a valentine from a special friend and later from a boy who was my current "crush." Now I remind my husband Alex that February 14th is right around the corner and I am writing an article for the Mosquito on what we are doing. Usually we host a "sweetheart dinner" where the men cook and the ladies just sit around being decorative. This is a lot of fun with great food, but since he may have to go out of town that week on business, it has left us unable to make plans. That has not kept me from picking out a few favorite places that have special valentine dinners.
For a local reliably good dinner, Dalya's in Bedford is offering a choice of five entrees on their menu, all imaginatively titled. The five-course meals range from $39.50 per person for boneless breast of chicken "Casanova" stuffed with sundried tomatoes, Fontina cheese and spinach, served with a potato soufflé, vegetables and a papaya-mango relish, to $49.50 per person for grilled lamb, "Romeo and Juliette" with eggplant timbale and roasted sweet potatoes. The desserts will include a sampler of Valentine sweets, chocolate mousse in a chocolate cup and poached pear with pistachio ice cream.
Dalya's, 20 North Road, Bedford, 781-275-0700
Rialto, my Cambridge favorite in the Charles Hotel, always has an imaginative menu and is offering a prix fixe dinner for $75 per person that includes chilled oysters with blood orange mignonette, hot and spicy seafood bisque, peppered beef tenderloin with foie gras raviolis, sweet and sour shallots and truffled root vegetable purée and a chocolate soufflé and champagne semifreddo. You may also order off the seasonal menu. At the end of the meal everyone will receive a small complimentary box of Rialto's chocolate truffles, and the lucky one who spots a gold embossed Rialto logo under the lid will receive a spectacular $11,000 ruby ring from Shreve, Crump and Low!
Rialto, 1 Bennett Street, Cambridge 617-661-5050.
If you are willing to drive northeast about 40 minutes, you can have a Saint Valentine Day dinner in a romantic old dining room in Newburyport. David's Restaurant is serving a fixed price per person dinner at $50. David is the former chef at Bay Tower Room and a few years ago opened his own place in Newburyport. The meal is truly a beautiful presentation and the food outstanding. For this special day he is offering a glass of champagne to start, then a choice of seafood, a grapefruit sorbet with frozen Absolut vodka, choice of tenderloin of beef with frizzled artichokes, garlic herb-roasted lamb with garlic mashed potatoes, smoked tomato jam and braised spinach, and crispy duck, wild rice with pear, cranberry Cointreau reduction, a choice of 4 desserts including a white chocolate mousse almond cookie Napoleon (I have had this and it is special) plus a confiture of chocolate dipped strawberries. David's Restaurant, 11 Brown Square, Newburyport, 978-462-8077
If you just can't take the time to go out, with an early morning start on Tuesday, consider this possibility. La Provence in Concord is offering a five-course Valentine dinner at $55.50 for two to take home. You can pick it up earlier and set up a romantic dining experience with your favorite wine. Included in this meal will be: French onion soup, poached salmon in a champagne sauce, green salad with blue cheese dressing, and a choice of rack of lamb, duck a l'orange, pork loin Normande, breast of chicken with wild mushrooms or vegetarian crepes and a gateau St. Valentin for dessert.La Provence, 105 Thoreau Street, Concord, 978-371-7428
Mosquito staff suggest
The Mosquito staff would like to add a few of their favorites which would be worth a visit on Valentine's Day, or, for that matter, most any other time of the year.
This is one of my family's favorites places to go, especially on Saturday night. You are always bound to run into Carlisle friends here, eating on the porch in the balmy months or enjoying the multi-sided hearth on a wintry evening.
Everyone in my family has his or her particular favorite, whether it's the lobster ravioli, the fillet of sole, the seafood pasta or the prime rib. We all agree on the salad bar, though, which is appetizing, fresh and varied. Prices are quite reasonable and the live music (on weekends) makes a mellow accompaniment to the meal.
Debra's Natural Gourmet
at 98 Commonwealth Avenue in West Concord is offering an interesting three course take-out "Menu for Two" for St. Valentine's Day 2000. "The three courses of this special meal will be light and invigorating. Dessert will be rich and decadent," says Debra. "Health is for lovers..." The menu will include mixed red berries with Creme Fraich; tossed green salad, a choice of Shrimp and Scallop Sauté with French Feta and Asparagus or Artichokes and Olive with New Potatoes and Spring Vegetables (Vegan) followed by a choice of desserts: Seductive Chocolate Mousse or Luscious Cheesecake with Cherry topping. Prix Fixe (for two)$59. To make dinner reservations call 978-371-7573.
Anago, at the Lenox Hotel in Back Bay, offers some of the finest contemporary American cuisine in Boston. The classic turn of the century dining room features a vaulted 15-foot canvas ceiling, arched French style windows, and wrought iron chandeliers. Anago's open kitchen, conceived by chef/owner Bob Calderone, features a wood-fired grill, rotisserie and homemade wood-oven faced with Pennsylvania fieldstone.
Valentine's Day will feature a prix fixe dinner at $85 per person. Anago, 65 Exeter Street, Boston, 617-266-6222
Upstairs at the Pudding - For those who might prefer a daytime outing, I would recommend Sunday brunch at Upstairs at the Pudding in Harvard Square. On a cold and gray Sunday in mid-January, we were immediately warmed by the colorful, cheery decor. The crisp white linens and formal service lent just the right air of pampered elegance. Not long after we arrived, we were delightfully surprised by a short but polished rendition of tunes from an energetic a capella group from Harvard. As we listened, we munched on a hand-made assortment of breads. The main course portions weren't enormous, but all five of us found the dishes very satisfying. The menu afforded a nice variety of items, including traditional eggs benedict, a plentiful, rich version of French toast with berries, sauteed tilapia on a bed of greens, and small but tasty crab cakes. In the early afternoon, we returned to the cold outdoors with feelings of warmth and good cheer. Somehow, it didn't seem as gray anymore.
© 2000 The Carlisle Mosquito