If we’re lucky, most of us get one, maybe two years of white truffles and $150 bottles of Champagne on Valentine’s Day before we settle into true love â€” and real life. (Actually, we’re quite fond of shitakes and $10 Prosecco.) But occasionally, we all get that sentimental longing for a romantic dinner on Valentine’s Day. Problem is, you pay a hefty premium for that steak tartare on one of the busiest restaurant nights of the year. Most of the swankiest Valentine’s spots in town are offering pre-fixe dinners from $65 to $150 per person, and that’s without wine. Our suggestions for a more pocketbook friendly romantic night out are below.
Cube will be closed as usual on Sunday, but the cafÃ© is offering a fun Saturday night pre-Valentine’s Day alternative. For $35 per person, early-bird romancers can dunk their hearts (sorry, couldn’t resist) and house-made bread into Cube’s cheese fondue, nibble on farmers’ market vegetables and finish off the light supper with Meyer lemon coeurs Ã la crÃ¨me. The shop’s standard glass of Prosecco is included, as is a take-home box of candies and chocolate truffles to pull out on Sunday.
615 N. La Brea Ave., Hollywood, 323.939.1148, cubemarketplace.com . Special menu available Feb. 13th only.
If you’re okay with sharing a communal table with other lovebirds, Ilan Hall is preparing a four-course yet-to-be-determined seasonal menu for $45 â€”Â including wine. It’s such a bargain that we’re happy to compensate for the occasional lackluster dish by bringing our own salt shaker to pull out in tune to the evening’s live tunes.
501 S. Spring St., Downtown, 213.488.3408, thegorbalsla.com.
As Valentine’s happens to be on a Sunday this year, we have the perfect excuse to forgo dinner for a less-expensive leisurely brunch. La Cachette in Santa Monica is offering an $85 dinner, but at $45, the special three-course brunch is a bargain (most Sundays, brunch is an Ã la carte affair). Take a bottle of bubbly (corkage is $15 for the first bottle) to enjoy with your eggs benedict on brioche with house-smoked salmon, and remember to pack a box of chocolates for an afternoon oceanview stroll through Palisades Park just across the street.
1733 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica, 310.470.4992, lacachettebistro.com.
Dining at Patina on Valentine’s Day will set you back $125, not including wine. Hit one of Joachim Splichal’s less-expensive offshoots, like Pentimento, to save a bundle. The LACMA-based restaurant has its own elegance and terrific fare. The $38 three-course Valentine’s tasting menu will be served all day and includes diver scallop carpaccio with blood oranges, fennel and a citrus vinaigrette, as well as red-wine braised short ribs with brown butter roasted vegetables and pureed potatoes. You’ll also receive a glass of sparkling wine, compliments of the house, though we suspect it isn’t Veuve Cliquot.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Miracle Mile, 323.857.4761 patinagroup.com. Tasting menu served until 8 p.m.
The $45 three-course Valentine’s Day tasting menu at this mod Manhattan Beach sushi lounge is a great alternative for those looking for that “night on the town” feel for half the price. Along with the bluefin toro and Japanese snapper are such non-seafood options as a Kobe beef filet with foie gras and Kurobuta pork, a relief for couples who have that perpetual land vs. sea debate.
451 Manhattan Beach Blvd., Manhattan Beach, 310.545.0400, sashimb.com.