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Stay home or go out for Valentine’s Day?

Piece of Cake (Becky Stein)

Piece of Cake (Becky Stein)

About this time last year, I posted a list of Atlanta restaurants offering special menus for Valentine’s Day and suggested that reservations should be made soon. I mentioned that I’d tried to make a reservation at one spot that no longer had availability.

One of the commenters (“Steven”) wrote, “Shocked that a food blogger would suggest going out on Valentine’s day. One of the best days of the year to stay home and cook.”

While I do love to cook, I also love any excuse to go out. I admit I also have a hang-up about celebrating holidays on their actual date. I’ll be going out again on Feb. 14 this year. But that’s me. Do you go out on Valentine’s Day?

I surveyed a few individuals working in various capacities in the food industry to see how they celebrate Valentine’s Day. Here are their responses:

I take my wife out either a few days before or a few days after Valentines Day, to avoid the masses. You get better tables, and servers aren’t so slammed they can’t take great care of you. I do plan to take my wife out to dinner this year…

Jason Dominy, Customer Supper & Outreach Coordinator for Batdorf & Bronson

It is a good night to go out since most chefs like to play and experiment with different techniques and products that they wouldn’t necessarily do on a typical menu. Chefs really have a good time with this theme and trying to think outside the box in terms of ingredients and presentation. I think diners have the best opportunity to eat out on “special” nights and they are willing to try and taste out of their comfort zone on these special occasions.

Heather Hurlbert, pastry chef and owner HH Desserts

My husband and I have a tradition of going out for our Valentine’s dinner on Feb. 13th. It’s insane for us to fight the crowds to prove our love on the actual Valentine’s day. The only reason we stick to the 13th is to have an excuse to spend money on fine dining. On the 14th we usually order pizza at home and crack open some way-too-nice-to-pair-with-cheap-pizza wine.

Allison Pallestrini, Southeast Director, Culinary Events for Share Our Strength

We’ll do something at home that includes a fabulous bottle of wine but we’re waiting until the weekend after Valentine’s to go out because we like to choose from menus a la carte (most menus on the big day are prix fixe) and we like a mellower night that’s less crowded. I think it’s great that people go out on the day — if you’re one of them, have a fabulous time and enjoy your honey!

Elizabeth Schneider, Certified Sommelier and Specialist of Wine, Wine Consultant and author of Wine For Normal People blog

Do you go out on Valentine’s Day, a few days earlier/later or just stay home?

If you do plan to go out for Valentine’s Day, here are a few restaurants serving special menus that evening.

–by Jenny Turknett, Food and More blog

25 comments Add your comment


January 30th, 2013
12:36 pm

We usually get take-out. Maybe not from the nicest restaurants, but it sure beats the crowds.

A. Teesman

January 30th, 2013
12:58 pm

Cook your woman a heart-shaped meatloaf and put on some Air Supply. Oh yeah.

just me

January 30th, 2013
1:02 pm

At home, definitely. Usually take out then make a nice dessert that’s usually geared towards the little ones like strawberry shortcake.


January 30th, 2013
1:03 pm

Every time I go out on Valentines, I always am disappointed. I will try on another day.

mystery poster

January 30th, 2013
2:25 pm

Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day are two days I wouldn’t go near a restaurant.


January 30th, 2013
2:44 pm

Stay in and have home made Pizza!

Going out on Valentines day is some sort of surreal experience. Fixed price menus with wait staff pushing to turn tables with gratuity already added. Couples staring at each other or at everything but each other. Just a strange “dance” really.


January 30th, 2013
2:51 pm

We stay home. We went out on2/14 a few years ago – the food was like being at a large wedding, cooked and plated long before we got there. They also added a bunch of tables, so it was way too crowded. We save our fine dining dollars for better food and ambience than we’ve found on Valentine’s Day.


January 30th, 2013
3:16 pm

I agree with “mystery poster”. My husband and I go out the weekend before or the day after. The food is rushed, therefore it’s not good. The crowds are horrible and the wait is hours…..staying at home!!


January 30th, 2013
3:19 pm

Stay in! NYE, Valentine’s, Mother’s Day are dining-out traps!!’s so much fun cooking a meal together, especially a 5-course meal…stretching out that together time. Or do a fun activity like painting, rock climbing, etc and then getting take-out.

Circle R

January 30th, 2013
3:31 pm

We usually go out on the 14th, with mixed results. This year, I think I’ll take A. Teesman’s advice and rock the meatloaf and Air Supply! You, sir, are clearly a romantic at heart!

Polly M

January 30th, 2013
4:03 pm

Go out on our anniversary and stay home on Valentine’s Day. We splurge on food and wine and have a candlelight dinner for two.


January 30th, 2013
4:28 pm

Stay home and avoid the overpriced and limited “special” menus for VD….hmmm, maybe I shouldn’t abbreviate Valentine’s Day. Home made pizza is a good call and fun to do.

@Tranny, the problem with cooking a 5 course meal is that I can’t cook without drinking wine or beer or cocktails or all three. A five course meal might kill me.

A. Teesman

January 30th, 2013
4:51 pm

@Circle R if you want to go out later, you can hit Confetti or American Pie.


January 30th, 2013
4:53 pm

The big name restaurants are packed but the ethnic places tend to be less crowded. Maybe try some dim sum or a red-hot spicy fish dish at the Chinese place. Love romantic picnic but not this climate.

Take out and a chick-flick/romance dvd. Really, guys LOVE Out of Africa, right? They swoon over the hair washing scene too, don’t they?


January 30th, 2013
6:22 pm

Stay home- just another Hallmark holiday and the menus tend to be overpriced.


January 30th, 2013
6:54 pm

We always stay home and cook together on V-Day. If we feel like enjoying a meal out (which some years we do and some years we don’t), we will do that in addition, but either a few days before or a few days after V-Day. V-Day evening is “Amateur Night,” when the masses who rarely go to restaurants descend on them for their yearly romantic dinner.

Florists' worst nightmare

January 30th, 2013
7:31 pm

We don’t do Valentines since our wedding anniversary is Feb 15. Much easier to go out then. And, to us, it’s more important than a Hallmark holiday.

Name comes from a florist I didn’t use for my wedding.


January 31st, 2013
7:52 am

A few days before VD my wife asks me to prepare her favorite dishes over the past year. It is a fun experience we both enjoy very much and a tradition that is worth preserving in our home. We have never gone out on VD. We go out when we fel like it not when Hallmark says we should.

Star Provisions

January 31st, 2013
10:10 am


January 31st, 2013
10:23 am

We go out for a family dinner on Valentine’s Day. Don’t worry – I’m not taking my mostly well-behaved 6 & 8-year old boys out to Atlanta’s finest dining on everyone’s romantic evening; we pick somewhere for more family friendly. Last year we went for Indian, the year before we did Honey Pig. The boys have already put in requests for either Chef Liu or Tofu Village this year.


January 31st, 2013
12:14 pm

We always stay in and cook a special meal. We do the same for NYE. It’s wonderful and there’s a much smaller risk of disappointment.

Jenny Turknett

February 1st, 2013
1:16 pm

Ha! I’ve opened a can of worms. My husband is enjoying (and agreeing with) your comments! ;)


February 1st, 2013
2:57 pm

I vote for staying in and cooking something special, perhaps together. This is the time you drive past the Kroger and Publix and go to the specialty markets to get the “good stuff”.


February 2nd, 2013
9:18 am

Edward, I agree! Go to your local butcher shop or Fresh Market. We are fortunate, our butcher is less than a mile from the house. This year he will make our favorite Portguese sausage. But we must buy it all (10 lbs) for his effort. That is never an issue. He makes different sausages for us about 4 times per year.


February 2nd, 2013
10:43 am

Portuguesse sausage (linguica) is impossible find in the South for me. The recipe is on the internet. Give it to your butcher. I had too. He had no idea what it was. He now makes it for his famly and friends, but will not put it in the meat case. Said folks would not try it because they never heard of it down here. We first tasted it from a street vendor cart in Boston, years ago.