February 2, 2021 – The age-old question, “What should we do for Valentine’s Day?” should be easily answered by browsing through this compilation of local happenings. While by no means exhaustive, this compendium should provide you fodder for planning the perfect romantic interlude. Because Valentine’s Day is combined with President’s Day weekend this year, you have several reasons to splurge. Get planning!
Alta Bakery and Cafe is offering a romantic dinner for two, for $145 per couple, to-go on Valentine’s Day, February 14. The menu includes a salad of watercress, arugula, frisee, vanilla roasted beets, citrus, feta cheese, and pecans, followed by Beef Wellington with creamed spinach, wild mushrooms and everything seed roasted carrots, and finishes with chocolate pot de crème with sour cream whip, and chocolate streusel. You even get two slices of banana bread to help revive you the next morning. Peruse AltaMenu and order AltaOrder. Alta is located at 502 Munras Ave., Monterey.
Aubergine is going all out to make your Valentine’s outing as special as possible. Whether you prefer to dine on the splendid Aubergine Courtyard, or chez vous, chef Justin Cogley and pastry chef Yulanda Santos, are assembling 16 aphrodisiacal ingredients to create a culinary adventure for the senses.
Dine-in seatings are available on February 14, from 5-8pm. Dinner is $275 per person, wine pairings are $195 and premium wine pairings are $250/pp. Prices are exclusive of tax and gratuity. Call 831.624.8578 or book through OpenTable.
Takeout dinners from Aubergine are $275 for two people, and include reheating instructions and a half bottle of rosé Champagne. The menu features an appetizer course of six Pacific Gold oysters with rosewater and pomegranate, followed by baby gem lettuce with radish and winter citrus, a choice of whole Maine lobster with fennel and Pernod, or dry-aged rib eye steak with creamed spinach. Sides include honey-glazed baby carrots with toasted almonds and housemade brioche buns with seaweed brown butter. For dessert, Valhrona chocolate cake with passionfruit coulis. Additional a la carte items available to go. Orders need to be placed by 1 pm on Wednesday, February 10, 2021, for pick up all weekend, 2/12 —2/14 between 3pm and 5pm only. AubergineToGo
Barceloneta in Santa Cruz is offering a 5-course prix fixe plus drinks, $150 for two people, both Saturday and Sunday of Valentine’s weekend. Begin with a cocktail or wine, to enjoy with a variety of tapas, like Dungeness crab croquettes, Liberty Farms duck and mushroom paella, beet and citrus salad with fennel and mint, and churros for dessert. Call 831.900.5222 to order. Pickup Sat or Sun from 4—7pm.
Bernardus Lodge has just what you need: a romantic get away. Treats are on tap for the entire Valentine’s/President’s Weekend (2/12—2/15):
- Dive into a hand-crafted luxury bath bomb to-go for the ultimate house party, or stock the spa’s private lavender body oil and handmade soap for a scentful gift ($10.50/$55.00)
- Indulge in a four-course repast by chef Cal, at Lucia, including truffled Caesar salad, local Dungeness crab papparadelle with foraged chanterelles, prime beef filet or a delicate mirepoix crusted halibut and signature Valrhona chocolate cheesecake ($150/serves 2)
- Plan a bountiful brunch at Lucia, from 10—2pm
- Grab a picnic basket for two, complete with a bottle of Bernardus wine ($125 for two) and go hiking in Garland Park or head to the beach, 11—3pm
Bistro Moulin has a three-course prix fixe for $50/pp, plus tax and tip, served on the patio only, with reservations reservations available from 1pm until 7:30pm on Valentine’s Day. It includes a choice of spinach gnocchi, artichoke bisque with crème fraîche or little gem and Belgian endive salad for the first course, followed by a choice of sea bass in lobster tarragon cream, buckwheat crepes with forest mushrooms, basil crusted chicken breast with haricot verts or filet mignon (up charge of $15) flamed with Cognac and peppercorn demi-glace for the main, and a choice of Tahitian vanilla bean crème brûlée, mousse au chocolat or raspberry tartlet for dessert. The full a la carte menu is available to go from 1pm until 7:30pm that day as well. Bistro Moulin
Chocolate in Santa Cruz has a 5-course prix fixe for $100 that serves two. It can be ordered to go or to dine in. The romance begins with a roasted root veggie salad topped with feta and pumpkin seed dressing, followed by black truffle pasta rosettes stuffed with Parmigiano Reggiano, ricotta and fresh black truffle, then Mary’s chicken breast topped with Oaxacan mole sauce and served with saffron rice and garlicky black beans, and finishing with a Valentine’s “dessert orgy,” featuring miniature tiramisu, cannoli, cherry truffles and other goodies. Enjoy a bottle of J Vineyards Brut Rosé, Russian River Valley. Chocolate
Estéban at Casa Munras is back open for outdoor dining and offers a 3-course prix fixe for $60/per person on the patio or to-go. The menu starts with salt roasted red beet salad, with local garden greens, feta, caramelized spiced walnuts, pickled red onion, ginger-cranberry vinaigrette. For the main course they offer grilled Mishima 5-star American Wagyu butcher’s steak and seared wild sea scallops with crispy Yukon potatoes, roasted heirloom carrots, chimichurri and brava sauce. Chocolate caramel pot de crème with candy cap streusel, port Chantilly crème ends the meal on a sweet note. Reserve at estebanrestaurant.com
Gabriella Café in Santa Cruz says they will attempt to maintain their preeminent position on Valentine’s Day with a five-course dinner for $75/pp, which starts with Gabriella focaccia and Castelvetrano olives, followed by a choice of oysters, seared scallop or Dungeness crab cake, followed by a choice of roast beets from Live Earth Farms with goat cheese, market lettuces with Delicata sqush, Gabriella’s famous Caesar, crispy cauliflower with black currant chili oil or Brussels sprouts with hazelnuts, with mains of grilled Pacific swordfish, Shiitake mushroom risotto stuffed acorn squash, seared duck breast, grilled rack of lamb with mint chimichurri and Del Monte NY Steak with romesco sauce. Dessert is a choice of blood orange chamomile panna cotta with rosemary honey and brown sugar crumble or red velvet cake truffles. Champagne special is a half bottle of Palmer for $35. Takeout will start at 3pm, with patio seating beginning at 5pm.
Gayle’s Bakery is celebrating 43 years on Valentine’s Day (wow!), and they invite you to take advantage of romantic dinner fodder offered both cold to heat up, beginning at 10am on February 14, or after 4:30pm, for hot meals to go. Featured yummies include prime rib au jus with horseradish cream, mashed potatoes whipped with crème fraiche and fresh asparagus, $24.95; oven poached salmon with lemon dill sauce, truffled fettucine and fresh asparagus, $22.95; and layered polenta hearts with sauteed fresh spinach, crimini mushrooms, gorgonzola cheese and a light red sauce, accompanied by Cupid’s salad with artichoke vinaigrette and Francese garlic bread, $17.95. Don’t forget something sweet: they have lots of heart-shaped cakes and cookies. Browse the selection, which includes heart-shaped baguettes with cheese and herbs, wrapped with a red ribbon, here: GaylesVDay Don’t wait to place your order!
La Posta celebrates Saint Valentine with a take away prix fixe for $70/pp, that includes green garlic soup, a choice of beet salad with ricotta salata, wild foraged mushroom tart of chanterelles and black trumpet or Ocean2Table Dungeness crab crostini with avocado aioli and pickled Fresno peppers for an appetizer. Main entrée choices are pan fried polenta with wild mushrooms and cipollini onions, slow roasted pork shoulder with roasted potatoes or red wine braised short ribs with chard and baby carrots. Choose dark chocolate panna cotta with hazelnut brittle or blood orange and olive oil upside down cake with blood orange and crème fraiche ice cream for dessert. Add either their white sourdough or walnut rosemary brown bread, both made with 30-year heritage starter, for $10/each. Pick up on February 14 between noon and 2pm. Complete reheating instructions included. To reserve: laPostaSpecialEvents@gmail.com
Mentone has a righteous cioppino feast for two to share, including the savory, aromatic, traditional soup from Liguria, loaded with mussels, black cod, and crab accompanied by Parmesan risotto, little gem salad with Green Goddess, chickpea and herb panisse (caviar supplement available), and chocolate gelato for dessert, just $165. Order in advance to pick up February 14. Wine pairings available. MentoneVDay
Old Fisherman’s Grotto invites you to enjoy a seafood feast for two to enjoy at home. Included are two 6oz prime flame-broiled filet mignon, topped with demi-glace sauce and portabella mushrooms, two succulent 7oz oven broiled lobster tails with clarified butter, two stuffed twice baked potatoes, two servings of roasted organic vegetables, two servings of Kings Hawaiian rolls, Champagne for two, plus two chocolate dipped strawberries and two slices of a layered chocolate cake with raspberry buttercream frosting topped with fresh raspberries. Can be doubled to serve four. $150 for two people and $300 for four. Easy curbside pick up at the roundabout at the head of the Wharf on Valentine’s Day, Sunday, February 14, from 11am until 8pm. Please reserve by February 12, by calling 831.375.4604.
Paris Bakery in Old Monterey offers Valentine’s treats that make perfect gifts for loved ones of all ages, including heart-shaped sables, raspberry lemon mousse, chocolate bombs and princess cakes. Call 831.394.7798 to place your order and for more information. 271 Bonifacio Place in Downtown Old Monterey.
Persephone is offering a three-course prix fixe for $90/pp, that features artichoke heart and beet salad with sheep feta and pistachios, and a choice of cannelloni stuffed with crab, leek and mushroom or sausage, leek and mushroom, both topped with béchamel sauce. Vegetarian option available as well. Dessert is chocolate Swiss roll with Irish Cream buttercream and Kahlua ganache. Enjoy on the patio, with seatings at 5:30 and 7:30pm, by reservation only. Limited seating. Reserve at Persephone.
Quail Lodge offers locals three-course dinners to enjoy at home or on its newly-reopened outdoor dining deck. Think about scallops, juicy rack of lamb or a “Tomahawk” ribeye for two, complete with either smoked trout tartine or miner’s salad, and a crème brulee or a delectable chocolate tart for dessert. Take advantage of a special Veuve Clicquot Champagne add-on including a 750ml bottle of Veuve, two branded champagne flutes and a set of delicious chocolates. The Valentine’s prix fixe to go is $60 per person. To place your order, call 831.620.8875, by Thursday, February 11, for pick up on Sunday, February 14, from Edgar’s at Quail Lodge.
Savor San Benito offers a Savory Farm to Table experience to-go for two, including Louie’s BBQ dinner with apricot wood smoked chicken, baby back pork ribs, scalloped potatoes and salads, plus a bottle of 2016 Eden Rift Pinot Noir and a custom red velvet cake for two from The Heavenly Bakery, plus more. Order SavorSB. Pickup at The Heavenly Bakery in San Benito, Friday, February 12, from 4pm until 6pm.
Soif presents a special Valentine’s Day menu for takeout only. Orders may be picked up on Sunday February 14th from 2pm – 4pm. The dinners come fully cooked, with instructions on how to reheat the items in the takeaway bag. The dinner, which features little gem salad, crab consomme, wild mushroom ragout or roasted duck leg, feeds two people, and is priced at $120. The Soif wine team is happy to help put together a custom pairing for a most harmonious evening. Orders may be placed by emailing email@example.com. Dinner details are here.
Tickle Pink Inn is the ideal coastside spot to escape for a much-needed break, with wonderful views, a bottle of sparkling awaiting in your room, an onsite hot tub and fabulous linens, plus free movie rentals. They’re offering 20% off room specials for Sundays through Thursdays, through March 31. Not available during holidays, but worth creating your own special Valentine’s celebration some other time. TickleMe
Vim Dining and Desserts in Santa Cruz tempts you with two sumptuous take and bake dinners for two, just $155, plus gratuity. Choose from steelhead trout (marinated) or filet mignon (sous vide and ready to finish) dinners, all set to be cooked at home. Dinners include a cheeseboard, a choice of cocoa balsamic beet or green bean Nicoise salad, and are accompanied by cabbage and fennel gratin. Add a romantic bouquet for $30. Pickup between 3:30 and 5:30pm on Feb. 14. Add other items as well. Menu here: VimVDay
Vino Cruz will make your Valentine’s Day 2021 special with their multi-course dinner for two. Choose a starter (arugula salad, beets with pistachios or mushroom fennel soup), main (ribeye and butter poached prawns, glazed fingerlings and Brussel sprouts with truffle Béarnaise sauce; duck confit and red peppercorn ragu with herb risotto and asparagus; or handmade winter squash gnocchi, cherry tomatoes, garlic confit and parmesan cream), plus dessert (hazelnut chocolate decadence with espresso reduction or carrot chiffon cake with mascarpone) and a bottle of wine for two. Choice of sparkling, chardonnay, pinot noir or cabernet. Dinner for two, just $175, plus tax and tip, also includes a house-made lavender and white chocolate truffle. Pickup and delivery options available. Pre-order up to 24 hours before Valentine’s Day. VinoCruz
Wild Fish has a three-course prix fixe for $65/person, beginning with appetizer choices of oysters and Champagne vinaigrette, a citrus and beet salad or cod four ways. For the main course, choose from Sablefish with pomme purée, roasted cauliflower and romanesco and pomegranate gastrique; Cioppino; swordfish with mussels, saffron, shellfish risotto, honeynut squash purée with shaved Brussels sprouts, or whole crab with side salad and Corola potatoes. For dessert, it’s red velvet chocolate cake or Greek yogurt panna cotta with blood orange and preserved orange rind. Order at WildFish.
Laura Ness is a longtime wine journalist, columnist and judge who contributes regularly to Edible Monterey Bay, Spirited, WineOh.Tv, Los Gatos Magazine and Wine Industry Network, and a variety of consumer publications. Her passion is telling stories about the intriguing characters who inhabit the fascinating world of wine and food.