Happy Valentine’s Day. Made those reservations yet?
Many moons ago, when I was Chef of a well-known Augusta Road institution here in our fair city, my favorite Valentine’s Day past time was answering the phone on the 14th.
“Thanks for calling the Broad St. Grill, How may I help you?”
Panicked guy on the other end of the line: “Yeah you got anything for 7:00 pm, just the two of us?”
Panicked Guy: Click
“Hi, you’ve reached The Grill, how may I help?”
Polished gentleman on the other end of the line: “Yeah, Crescent, party of two, how about 7:30 PM tonight?”
Polished Gentleman: “Damnit Malik!”
And so it went.
Although it’s only one day, for a restaurant, Valentine’s Day can define an entire month. February is the shortest month of the year, even if this one has 29 days. We’re past the pandemonium of December, likewise the buzz of January’s restaurant week and the four weeks of February can find your favorite restaurant in the doldrums of winter. Thanks to Valentine’s Day, restaurants can survive and possibly thrive, if we play our cards right. And this year it falls on a Friday which means it’s an entire weekend of folks wanting to treat their significant others to a fancy meal. Because there’s so much emotion attached to this day, and so many singles, or married ones, wanting to get it right, your favorite restaurant is planning specials to ease the burden and help with the decision-making process. However, if you don’t have reservations, it’s probably too late. But that doesn’t mean you can’t eat vicariously through this essay, right?
The big challenge (for restaurants) of Valentine’s Day is all those two tops. We prefer flexible seating arrangements so we can be prepared when that party of 12 calls and wants to blow up the company credit card. However, this weekend, it’s all about couples.
This is the time for most restaurants to create a special menu with limited choices in appetizer, entrée, and dessert.
Upstate Valentine Dining Specials
And if we want to maximize our seating while still providing a memorable evening for our guests, we need to make ordering trouble free for all. With that in mind I’ve talked to a few of my chef friends and asked them what they’ve got planned for next weekend. And I’ll start with Jenifer Barone’s ’05, easily the smallest proper restaurant in Greenville.
“We have a great musician, and I’m sure it will more or less be just like a regular fun Friday night here.”
Oak Hill Café is our town’s most adventurous and audacious restaurant and Chef David Porras has a 14 course tasting menu planned for only $110 per person. Want to add wine to your meal, plan on spending another $35.00. That’s a heck of a deal for such a talented chef and the quiet elegance of Oak Hill Café. And as of this writing he had a few reservations available. Learn more about Oak Hill Cafe in John’s earlier feature.
Across town Chef Adam Cooke of Topsoil Restaurant in Traveler’s Rest has a four-course meal planned for $65.00 and he promises to feature his handmade agnolotti.
If you’re looking for the most romantic restaurant in town, IMHO that title goes to Jianna. Go on a lovely spring evening and dine on their balcony as the traffic, both pedestrian and automotive, buzzes beneath and you’ll agree. Chef/Owner Michael Kramer is planning on celebrating with Filet Mignon, Capeletti Pasta, an oyster dish or two, and plenty of chilled Spumante.
Bacon Brothers will not have a special menu, they’ll just be their usual awesome selves.
Chef/Owner Greg McPhee has a four-course limited $55 per person, wine pairing is $45 and as of this writing they had some 5:30 and 9:30 reservations. He’s got Beef Tenderloin from Roebuck, SC to serve and a cool dessert of Bonet Alla Piemontese. It’s a steamed custard of local milk, cocoa powder, Amaretti cookies, and rum.
And speaking of Community Tap. On the 14th their store on Wade Hampton will offer up their Black Hearted Stout Night. It’s sort of the anti-Valentine’s event. Dress in all black and enjoy a fine selection of stouts from across our planet while eschewing the pink lace and floral traditions of Valentine’s Day.
So what are your plans for Valentine’s? Dinner? Steaks on the Grill? Or drive through burgers? Me? I’ll be in the kitchen of Soby’s dutifully performing where I’m needed. It’s doubtful I’ll be answering the phone.