If you're like me, you jump at any occasion to go out to a fancy dinner. Valentine's Day is a perfect opportunity; it isn't your birthday or anniversary, but you can easily justify a special meal with your significant other.
Photo by Kārlis Dambrāns, via Flickr.
The problem is that all restaurants capitalise on this, and they impose absurd prix-fixe menu options on the night of February 14. Some come with a "champagne toast", most have a version of chocolate cake for dessert, and almost all are at least $130 per person (and not as good as the normal à la carte options). The reservation app Resy will even mark which restaurants have special V-day menus in a cupid-approved shade of red, but I see it more as a "DO NOT ENTER" sign.
The way to get around this without skipping the joy of a romantic meal out: Take advantage of Valentine's being on a Wednesday this year, and make nice dinner reservations for the following Friday or Saturday. (Or take Dr Ruth's advice and go out before the holiday, instead.) Demand will be lower, and you will be able to eat whatever you want at normal prices, without having to sit next to smooching love birds, in a nest of pink and red balloons. You'll also be able to eat at an appropriate time without having planned your reservation a month in advance. Case in point: The place I'll be going (at 7:30PM on Friday), currently has just one open table left for Valentine's Day.... at 5:30PM.
As for the actual night of the 14, you can cook a romantic dinner at home (I always make leg of lamb and spicy chocolate pie), or order fried chicken and eat it on the floor while watching Food Network. That's a perfectly romantic evening and no one will judge you because no one will see. Every day is a holiday when you're in love! Ew.