On the Table: Where to dine with your Valentine

Chocolate Torte
Many restaurants will offer variations of chocolate torte on their Valentine’s Day menus. — photo by Ralph Daily via Flickr Creative Commons

It’s Valentine’s Day — again! If you are like many people, you’ll probably be putting on (slightly) nicer clothes and celebrating what is certainly the most romantic day of the year with a meal that will leave you and your dining companion feeling thoroughly stuffed. Even if you hate this holiday as much as some people do, you won’t hate the food that local restaurants are cooking — this is an opportunity to see what area restaurants put together when they ditch their daily menus and go all out.

Atlas World Grill
127 Iowa Ave., Iowa City | 319-341-7700
Celebrate Valentine’s Day and Mardi Gras at Atlas with their cajun-inspired specials available all weekend. Try crawfish etouffee; bourbon-glazed duck; and banana’s foster desserts. Everything will be a la carte and their regular menu will also be available.

Baroncini Ristorante Italiano
104 S. Linn St., Iowa City | 319-337-2048
$50 per person
For an atmosphere that will certainly lead to a romantic evening, head to Baroncini for their four-course dinner, featuring several options such as a fresh lobster, avocado and basil salad; creamy risotto with fresh lemon zest and shrimp with parmesan cheese, Scottish salmon with orange puree and basil foam with frozen coconut parfait for dessert.

117 N. Linn St., Iowa City | 319-354-1001
$55 per person | $70 per person with wine and cocktail pairings
Enjoy Devotay’s take on Valentine’s Day treats with foie gras, egg noodle soup, grilled center cut lamb chops, broiled rapini-stuffed salmon and warm, spiced carrot cake. Drink pairings will also be available, and all items are available a la carte.

126 E. Washington St., Iowa City | 319-887-1909
$40 per person | $20 wine pairing
This Valentine’s Day menu features Catalonian timbal with roasted red pepper, eggplant, goat cheese and balsamic reduction, followed by wood-fired pizza Margherita. Then, enjoy a choice of beef bourguignon, lamb on creamy polenta or seared tuna with ginger cream sauce, and, of course, chocolate torte!

Leaf Kitchen
301 1/2 Kirkwood Ave., Iowa City | 319-338-1909
$60 per person | BYOB, $10 corking fee
This brunch and lunch spot will open for a prix-fixe Valentine’s Day dinner that draws inspiration from a range of Asian and European culinary traditions. Items on the menu include Asian slaw; salmon sashimi carpaccio; beet- and herbed-goat-cheese Napoleon; miso-marinated grilled black cod; and a dessert trio.

Linn Street Cafe
121 N. Linn St., Iowa City | 319-337-7370
$55 per person
Taste Linn Street Cafe’s four-course, prix-fixe menu which includes seared scallops with soba noodles and ginger ponzu, followed by options like strawberry salad with feta, pistachios and a pomegranate vinaigrette; seared unicorn fish with coconut fried rice, fried plantain and mango pico de gallo; or red velvet cake with cream cheese ice cream.

Mendoza Wine Bar
1301 5th St. #105, Coralville | 319-333-1291
$37 per person
Feeling sour about V-Day? Check out Mendoza’s fifth annual anti-Valentine’s Day Cabaret on either Friday or Saturday night. The cabaret begins at 8:30 p.m. and will “celebrate the darker side of the hearts and flowers holiday with a wide array of vocal performances” that focus on heartbreak. On Saturday evening, guests can enjoy a prix-fixe dinner.

Motley Cow
160 N. Linn St., Iowa City | 319-688-9177
$62 per person | $30 wine pairing
Head to the Motley Cow for a menu driven by local ingredients and intriguing flavor combinations. The prix-fixe dinner includes options like mussels with black linguine and salmon roe, roasted rack of lamb and beignets with chocolate, coffee and mandarins for dessert.

One Twenty Six
126 E. Washington St., Iowa City | 319-887-1909
$48 per person | $24 wine pairing
Taste a coursed menu that includes potato and leek soup with American caviar, followed by pan-seared Scottish salmon with crème fleurette, then hanger steak with porcini butter and potatoes a la lyonnaise, and finally a chocolate torte with crème anglaise and raspberry compote.

Salt Fork Kitchen
112 E. Main St., Solon | 319-624-2081
$50 per person
Head up to Solon for a dinner that includes many dishes driven by ingredients from local producers, including the restaurant’s farm. The brunch and lunch spot will open for a special dinner that includes beef and pork liver pâté, winter squash soup, prime rib, seared scallops and chocolate torte.

Trumpet Blossom
310 E. Prentiss St., Iowa City | 319-248-0077
$52 per couple | $76 per couple with beer or wine pairings
If you are looking to celebrate with vegan cuisine, Trumpet Blossom is your best bet. Dinner starts with a shared appetizer platter of sunflower seed pâté, mustard, pickled green beans, asparagus and garlic scapes, then feature items such as spinach polenta with roasted winter veggies and chocolate torte with raspberry sauce for dessert.


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