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All You Can Eat

Trend-setting restaurants, Northwest cookbooks, local food news and the people who make them happen.

February 9, 2010 at 10:27 AM

Valentine’s Day. Isn’t it romantic? So, where would YOU go?

You know how I feel about dining out on Valentine’s Day: I’d rather stay home and cook. But if someone were to put my feet to the fire and insist I make a list of “romantic” places to send my readers (and they did!) I’d tell ’em, “Cut me a break! One woman’s romantic restaurant is another’s `You’ve got to be kidding!'” Sure it’s romantic to sit at a tiny table for two with a view at Place Pigalle, sharing a half-dozen oysters and a chocolate pot de creme. Or side-by-side on a banquette at Licorous, savoring a well-made cocktail and a couple of pretzel dots — says me.

Place Pigalle, hidden away in Pike Place Market and a pair of pretties at Licorous, where I love to lift one. [Seattle Times photos/Betty Udeson (left) and Mike Siegel]

My idea of romance involves dining at the counter at Spinasse next to a total stranger, sharing antipasti and tajarin with two of my dearest friends — as I did last week. Though you may beg to differ. In fact, I can already hear you saying, “Yeah? But what if there was no room at the bar and you had to sit at one of those communal tables listening to some Capitol Hill condo-dweller carry on about her ex-husband?” (Point well taken.)

Well, because the season is nigh, here are some ideas for places where you and yours might do the romance dance. Please take these suggestions with a grain of salt, preferably fleur de sel — which you’ll find on the tables at Boat Street Cafe: a perfectly romantic place. At least I think so.

And because I’d really like to know: where do you like to eat and drink when romance is on the menu? My comments box is open for business!

Mash notes from Nance Romance:

If your sweetheart rides a Hog: Check out the vroom-vroom room at Renton’s newly Irish-accented Mick Kelly’s at Full Throttle. Lift an Harp — and some fish ‘n chips — while straddling a leather bar-stool built to resemble your ride. Or repair to the indoor “patio” overlooking the spacious showroom at Renton Motorcycle Company.

Indoors — and out — at Full Throttle. You’re either for us, or a Guinness. [I’m for you!]

If your sweetheart is tired of the same old brunch, sounds like you could use some egg-citement. Here’s an idea: weekend brunch at Avila. At this Wallingford newcomer, you can share a deep-fried duck egg with house-cured bresaola and red-eye gravy, and a double-fried egg-filled crepe.

If your sweetheart is a pinball wizard — and you’ve got Champagne tastes and cheap-beer pockets — double up on the fun with a hot dog and a cold beer at Shorty’s in Belltown. Whatdaya mean you don’t eat dogs — “vegi” or otherwise? Tell them to nuke you a TV dinner instead (21 and over only).

If your sweetheart is constantly saying, “What? WHAT? I can’t HEAR you!” when you’re dining out, listen up: make reservations at Nell’s near Green Lake or Bis on Main in Bellevue.

Candlelight and Dungeness crab salad — at Nell’s [Seattle Times photo/Betty Udesen].

If your sweetheart is always biting your head off, order a pound of fresh mudbugs at Crawfish King in the Chinatown International District and prove you can bite back. Hmmm. You don’t eat crawfish? Well, have a marvelous mess of spicy finger lickin’ crab or shrimp instead.

Heads you win, tails you win: why be fussy when you can get all messy? — at Crawfish King

If your sweetheart’s always saying, “Wouldn’t it be romantic to own a restaurant?” Say, “Before we take the plunge, perhaps we should sit at the counter at Joule in Wallingford and watch a happy couple like Seif Chirchi and Rachel Yang make us a bowl of spicy beef soup, dish up housemade kimchi and grill us a branzino on-the-bone. Then, we’ll talk.”

If your sweetheart’s a gambler, go north, where the Tulalip Bay restaurant is 10 times more elegant (and far less expensive) than you’d imagine given its proximity to the bright lights and one-armed bandits only steps away — on the busy floor of the Tulalip Resort Casino near Marysville.

If your sweetheart’s a vegan, Capitol Hill’s got a Plum of a bistro where drama and color define the meat- and dairy-free menu. Afterward, you can tread softly in your canvas shoes and head next door for a nightcap at sexy Osteria La Spiga.

Picture yourself here — at the bar at La Spiga. [Kevin P. Casey for the Seattle Times]

If your sweetheart likes pillow-talk, you won’t have far to go if you’re seated in a cozy, pillow-strewn corner at Frank’s Champagne & Oyster House in Ravenna. Can you say “mini lobstah roll”?

If your sweetheart likes to talk Turkey, the days of wine and roses can be found at Madrona’s intimate Bistro Turkuaz and at West Seattle’s long-lived Ephesus, where garlic is an aphrodisiac, kebabs are king and everything’s better with eggplant.

At Bistro Turkuaz, it’s all about romance. [Seattle Times photo/Mark Harrison]

If your sweetheart can’t cook and neither can you and you intend to stay home, there’s always pizza — and other frozen foods. Forget TJ’s and Tombstone. Instead Eat Local — from the Queen Anne take-out and retail shop of the same name, now with a Burien sibling.

If your sweetheart is a kiddie cake-connoisseur, stop for a cupcake. You might want to try the very grown-up chocolate-lover’s Deathcake Royale (a Valentine’s special at Cupcake Royale), though the kids might do better with less death-defying options. They abound there and elsewhere, including Trophy Cupcake’s various locations and downtown Seattle’s singular Yellow Leaf Cupcake Company.

If your sweetheart likes a bistro oozing with continental charm, consider Burien’s Bistro Baffi, where the European accents extend to the waiters and you can wine and dine at pink marble-topped tables.

Bistecca at Baffi in Burien. [Seattle Times photo/Greg Gilbert]

If your sweetheart loves steak frites, you’ve got nothing to lose at Toulouse Petit on Lower Queen Anne, where the gargantuan rib-eye served at dinner drips with a buttery pan sauce and — as I’ve mentioned before — is food enough for two.

Nothing Toulouse here, if you’re looking for sexy.

If your sweetheart comes with a family-sized entourage, you’ll find something for everyone at the newly renovated Perche No Pasta and Vino near Green Lake, and that includes (homemade) pasta and plenty of vino (try a flight!).

If your sweetheart loves sushi (or Thai food) and the movies, why not snuggle in the dark at Regal Cinemas at Thornton Place adjacent to Northgate Mall. Before or after, check out Thai Fusion Bistro or the new kaiten sushi joint, Tengu, where the price is right and the conveyor-belt sushi goes round-and-round.

It may not be your idea of romance, but this uni at Tengu is my idea of a perfect pair.

Comments | More in Holidays, Restaurants | Topics: Nancy's Restaurant Roundups

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