By Darren Paltrowitz
No matter your cuisine preferences or your relationship status, Valentine’s Day is a major day for New Yorkers who enjoy dining out. For those seeking a romantic place to eat, there are of course countless great options. Meanwhile, non-coupled foodies know to expect restaurant menus full of specials and other fun items when February 14th comes around. Simply put, a great Valentine’s Day gift in New York City is no longer limited to flowers and chocolate.
To help you with your Valentine’s Day 2018 planning, here are my choices that are simultaneously romantic, filled with attractive decor, and known for a quality-oriented fare.
THE REGENCY BAR & GRILL
With the bright lights of Park Avenue behind you, The Regency Bar & Grill at Loews Regency Hotel is the sort of place you can visit for dinner and also enjoy a nightcap. For Valentine’s Day, The Regency is scheduled to offer many of its signature dishes, including the Crab Cakes and the Chicken Paillard. Those craving New York-style pizza can enjoy two newly-created signature pies, which are made with charcoal crust from Olivella Bread. Meanwhile, The Regency’s dessert menu includes selections from Flavor New York partners like the Bon Vivant’s Upper East Side classic and sharable Petit Four Flight and Mah Ze Dahr Bakery’s Heavenly Cheesecake. Executive Chef Catherine Medrano says, “We love seeing the restaurant filled with diners celebrating the special night with us, in addition to our frequent regular guests who join us multiple times a week. We love delivering that service and being a part of their experience.” Info: loewshotels.com/regency-hotel/dining/restaurant.
The sister restaurant to French Riviera favorite Le Michelangelo, MAMO is an ideal SoHo spot, known for its diverse European cuisine. The restaurant recently changed chefs, welcoming Executive Chef Salvatore Marcello, who applies a stateside spin on the restaurant’s signature Provençal-meets-Italian fare. The menu is full of both classic family recipes and market specials, while its decor aims to provide a “sense of home” from the Riviera; oversized vintage movie posters are seen on the multi-level restaurant’s walls. Mr. Marcello explains, “Valentine’s Day is a great excuse for people to share love and feel loved. We choose ingredients that speak to the holiday so that it feels special and different. For me,” he continued to say, “I believe that there’s no such thing as romantic ingredients, just romantic people.” At MAMO you can expect to see lobster, homemade red ravioli, truffle, chocolate, and red fruit on the Valentine’s Day menu. When asked for his favorite meal outside of his restaurant, Marcello said it’s his fiancée’s grilled cheese because “she makes it with love.” Info: mamonyc.com.
This new restaurant which opened in the West Village in December, St. Tropez aims to transport New Yorkers to the South of France. Dreamt up by four French friends—including General Manager/Partner Yohann Pecheux, a native of the Saint-Tropez area—its menu includes a curated all-French wine list which currently offers 45 selections by the glass. Chef/partner Gérald Barthélémy earned a Michelin Star as the chef at Les Élysées restaurant in Hotel Vernet in Paris, and some of his signature dishes are Farcis Niçois (tomatoes stuffed with ground beef), Forestière Fougasse (mushroom flatbread), and Boulettes Provençales (beef meatballs with ratatouille). Mr. Pecheux noted, “St. Tropez is your perfect spot for a romantic escape on Valentine’s Day. The refined wood on the ceiling and shelves, combined with the diffused lights and candles, contribute to a warm and cozy atmosphere, which will transport you directly to a small village in the middle of Provence.” He added, “You will love the huge windows overlooking this iconic neighborhood. On the menu, you will be able to share the signature dessert with your beloved half, La Tropézienne, a creamy heart-shaped pastry which fits perfectly in your hand.” Info: sttropezwinebar.com.
BUTCHER & BANKER
Another newish spot in the city, Butcher & Banker recently opened in the former Manufacturers Trust Company bank vault, located beneath The New Yorker Hotel. Known as a “steakeasy,” Butcher & Banker offers USDA Prime steaks from Black Angus cattle and vintage cocktails with seasonal ingredients at the helm; non-steak-eaters will also find several options on the menu. The hotel (located at the crossroads of Madison Square Garden, Hudson Yards and Penn Station) once hosted the likes of Muhammad Ali, John F. Kennedy, and Joan Crawford—and the aforementioned bank which closed in 1980; you will sense history when stepping into Butcher & Banker. Executive Chef Scott Campbell explained, “Butcher & Banker is perfect for a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner as the below-ground space sweeps you into a different era with cozy seating, an elegant design and whimsical touches like chandeliers from an old ballroom in The New Yorker Hotel.” Info: butcherandbankernyc.com.
HIGH STREET ON HUDSON
An all-day neighborhood cafe, High Street on Hudson is located in the Meatpacking District, right off the High Line; it is conveniently around the corner from the Whitney Museum Of Art. Its menu changes seasonally, ranging from soups and salads to pasta and contemporary American entrees, to craft cocktails and local beers; General Manager (and sommelier) Jeff Arnold, has curated an extensive all-American wine list for High Street on Hudson. Executive Chef Sean McPaul advised of why diners will enjoy a visit to this restaurant on Valentine’s Day. “High Street on Hudson is perfect because of its relaxed look and feel. Low lights and candles with a casual feel and a very serious approach to cuisine make our restaurant the perfect place to cozy up and be taken care of in a space where you and your date can laugh, have fun, and eat well.” Info: highstreetonhudson.com.
One last bit of advice: Make sure Valentine’s Day is a success by making reservations well in advance.
Darren Paltrowitz is a New York resident (and Long Island native) with over 15 years of entertainment industry experience. Darren’s writing has appeared in dozens of outlets including the Inquisitr, The Daily Meal, The Hype Magazine, All Music Guide, Downtown Magazine, Guitar World, TheStreet.com, Format Magazine, Businessweek, The Improper, the L.A. Times, and the Jewish Journal.