Romance isn’t dead — it just needs a little nudge now and then to keep it alive.
Every year, in the weeks before Valentine’s Day, the romance machine starts up. Tables are reserved, flowers are arranged, and chocolates are bought. Restaurants are full to bursting and couples feel the love on Feb. 14. But on Feb. 15, and beyond? Crickets. And it just isn’t right.
This year, let’s keep that Valentine’s spirit going all year. So, by all means, check out these oh-so-romantic bistros and boîtes for the big day, but keep them in mind year-round, because love has no limits. The stomach wants what the stomach wants. If you want to really impress your mate — or your date — treat them to a romantic dinner in mid-March, late June, or early September. You’ve got to feed the fire to keep it going, am I right?
1301 N. State Parkway, Chicago, 312-649-0535
Lettuce Entertain You is throwing back to the heyday of The Pump Room with this new iteration of the iconic restaurant. Named for the table they oft reserved for the biggest celebrities (think Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, or Liza Minnelli) of the day, the room is aglow by the warm light of the exquisite floating orbs above. Prosecco cocktails, like the Sophia Loren ($10) with its addition of grapefruit, Aperol, and sorbet, set the celebratory and special tone for the evening. Modern classics like the Onion Poppyseed Parker House Rolls ($7.95) or the Black Truffle Scrambled Eggs ($24.95) whet the palate for the scrumptious Tournedo of Salmon Asiatique ($31.95) or Rack of Lamb ($39.95) with preserved lemon and Sicilian oregano. And Creamed Spinach ($8.95) is an absolute must. Feeling the retro love? Go for the Original Cheesecake Circa 1954 ($10) topped with sour cherry compote. Show ‘em how it’s done.
440 S. LaSalle St., Chicago, 312-663-8920
The magnificence of the view from the 40th floor is undeniable; so is the impeccably prepared and presented French cuisine of legendary chef Jean Joho. So as the lights of Chicago flicker below you, spread out like a twinkly carpet, gaze lovingly into your partner’s eyes and start to haggle over who gets to finish the Seared New York State Foie Gras with heritage quince and Alsatian spice cake, or the Hand-Harvested Casco Bay Sea Scallops and fennel choucroute sauced with a Tokay wine-kissed chicken jus. The Loin of Venison with braised red cabbage, spiced pear, and wild huckleberry jus and the Pasture Milk-Fed Veal Tenderloin are both spectacular choices. Dinner is priced at $98 for the starter-main-dessert option, and $130 for two starters with main course and dessert. Some dishes (caviar, filet of sole, truffled risotto) carry supplementary charges.