Plan a sweet Valentine’s Day date night—and keep it close to home with these spots that specialize in the romantic and decadent.
Al & Alma’s Supper Club
“Valentine’s Day is always a hit at Al and Alma’s,” says general manager Jay Soule. The supper club—which also has romantic seasonal dinner cruises on Lake Minnetonka—closes in early January. But when it opens again for the year on Valentine’s Day, the staff is raring to go, the space has been freshened up, and the menu is sure to have a few new tricks up its sleeve. That said, Al & Alma’s is all about classic lakeside dining, so it won’t deviate too much from the tried-and-true. “We always offer steak and broiled lobster tail on Valentine’s Day,” Soule says. The camp-style walleye and slow-cooked BBQ ribs are favorites, but the sea bass is a banner date night entrée. It comes covered in crushed pistachio and fresh herbs, sautéed in a cast iron skillet. “We also will be serving slow-roasted prime rib. Finish the evening with a slice of our legendary Key lime pie,” adds Soule.
5201 Piper Road, Mound
Facebook: Al & Alma’s Supper Club and Charter Cruises on Lake Minnetonka
It’s French. Its chef, Gavin Kaysen, has a James Beard Award. Its executive pastry chef, Diane Yang, has a Charlie Award. Its monochromatic storefront beckons, with a gleaming espresso maker and cases brimming with sweet delicacies. And it’s located right here in Wayzata. Dinner reservations can be hard to come by for dining in on peak nights, so call ahead and look forward to upscale and decadent wintry bites that are perfect for a dimly lit dinner with your date. For brunch, try the duck confit crêpe. For dinner, the foie gras torchon or braised short rib, maybe? For dessert, try the crème brulée or flourless chocolate torte. Oui.
Birch’s on the Lake
Looking for a spot that lets you choose between a classic supper club vibe and a laid-back brewhouse? No matter which adventure you choose at Birch’s, you’ll get a beautiful view of Long Lake. “The Valentine’s dinner menu includes many of our house specialties with the addition of a Northwoods board starter, grilled foie gras, surf ‘n’ turf, Alaskan king crab legs, prime rib, seared jumbo sea scallops and braised lamb shank, to mention a few,” says manager Lisa Houdek. “We also offer a rose—in a vase, with a personalized note—that can be placed on your table for your sweetheart.” Valentine’s dinner menu available February 14-16, 4-10 p.m. with a Valentine’s brunch buffet February 17, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Need a more intimate spot with tons of atmosphere, a stellar wine list, great live music and small plates and entrées that way outdo the tiny kitchen from whence they came? Hit 318’s Valentine’s Day dinner-and-a-show, with seating times at 5 and 8 p.m. “We’ll have a four-course prix fixe menu that’s a good bit more formal than our usual fare. It lets our kitchen staff show off a little,” says owner Kate Bailey. “Krista, our general manager, is a sommelier and will have some perfect wine pairings ready to go.”
Patisserie Margo is a family-owned business that was built from the ground up, in the throes of a recession, by local baker Margo Bredeson. If you can’t do an evening date this year, it’s a great spot to enjoy an espresso and a decadent pastry while watching the foot traffic with your loved one while the kids are in school. Or swing by for some romance in a box with beautiful delicacies to-go. An 8-inch flourless chocolate dome runs $30, or it’s $4.95 for a tiny version that’ll fit the bill for one hungry giftee or a romantic night for two. A chocolate mousse dome—filled with rose buttercream and pink macaron—is $5.25. Editor’s note: Just as we went to print, Patisserie Margo announced the closure of its Excelsior location. Don’t despair; you can still find them in Edina.
4510 Valley View Road, Edina
6Smith has become a bit of a local institution, and for Valentine’s Day, the team pulls out all the stops with a few extra menu items, available Thursday through Saturday. There’s typically a top-shelf surf ‘n’ turf, an imaginative sea scallop feature and an ultra-special dessert. Whether it’s for a romantic date night, Galentine’s Day, or anything in between, check out 6Smith’s monthly wine tasting and cocktail classes for something a little different. “They are great for date night—or date day; the cocktail class happens Saturday afternoons,” says manager Finesse Luna.
Red Sauce Rebellion
The new-ish Red Sauce Rebellion is the quintessential Italian spot—with clean, classic lines, flavorful dishes, and huge windows that let the lights of Excelsior’s Water Street spill in. But it took the romance factor up a notch last August, when The Rebel Room opened in its basement.
“It’s a cocktail lounge that is a cozy date night spot,” says co-owner Deacon Eells. “It would be a great place to either kick off the night or end it.” The spot serves “upscale cocktails with downstairs comfort,” according to its swanky Instagram account, and Eells suggests fan favorite small plates like the savory-sweet goat cheese tart, the Italian take on nachos, a burger—which comes topped with provolone, caramelized onions, and aioli—or seasoned ricotta. Any one of them would make a smashing companion to a bottle of wine or handcrafted cocktail, don’t you think?
“It’s, like, very beachy. Laid-back. Coastal,” says Baja Haus owner Billy Tserenbat, who is rarely seen in anything other than a Hawaiian shirt (just check Instagram). “We have no freezer, and there are no preservatives, ever. You’re not going to find this kind of food anywhere else,” he says. Baja Haus is locally sourced, fresh fusion—with a coastal vibe. So it’s like a beach vacation that’ll fit into your schedule on—you know—any old Thursday, which is when Valentine’s Day falls this year. Try the surf ‘n’ turf—which makes an appearance just for the holiday—and the ever-popular Sexy Mongolian cocktail, which is like a Moscow Mule that went to the beach. For dessert? Tres leches. It can’t be beat.
Make a night of it!
Lodging options are scant around Lake Minnetonka, but last year’s addition of Hotel Landing made it possible to grab dinner, get a couple’s massage, and stay the night without leaving the lakeshore. Book the Romance Package around Valentine’s Day—or anytime—and score 12 long-stem roses, late check-out, valet parking, spa credit for the attached Nordic-inspired Läka Spa, and a dining credit at ninetwentyfive. Who can argue with a staycation like that?