Victorian-era Valentine’s Day was shared between lovers with romantic paper sentiments adorned with frills, lace, cupids, gloves, bluebirds and hearts. It was during that time that food, expressly chocolates sold in elaborately decorated boxes, became popularly associated with this holiday. Today, Feb. 14 is celebrated by family members with cookie baking, crafts and special meals. Friends see it as a non-romantic occasion for celebration during the doldrums of winter. Begin a family tradition, gather the friends or enjoy a lovers’ night out at one of these five Charlotte-area locations.
Coastal Restaurant & Bar
Hilton Charlotte Center City
222 E 3rd St.
Charlotte, NC 28202
Price: $90 per couple with complimentary bottle of champagne/$45 per person
Enjoy a romantic dinner for two or spend a few hours with a group of friends over good food and conversation at the Coastal Restaurant & Bar. It’s located at College and East Third streets in uptown Charlotte. The bar features a new lighting and design package, while the dining is open air on the plaza level with a coastal, neutral-colored theme. New Zealand rack of lamb is being shipped in for this special night. The menu includes seared scallop red beet puree with toasted pine nuts and strawberry ambrosia crepe with champagne pearls, nepitella mint and blooms. So, call in early for reservations. Dress is casual, and all ages typically frequent this establishment.
Skinnyz Bar & Grille
15060 Idlewild Rd.
Matthews, NC 28104
Price: $24 per person/$42 for two
Everything pink, purple, red and white will dominate the tables and bar tops. Skinnyz owner Jennifer Polvere says it will be a warm, inviting, fun, light-hearted time where folks feel comfortable joining in solo, with someone special or a group of friends. Being a Gulf Coast transplant, she will glitterize this casual, beachy restaurant with jewels, rose petals, beads, lace, confetti and candles. The menu includes a Cupid’z Seafood Platter, salad greens, a cup of lobster bisque or potato bacon soap, champagne or coffee and a very delightful dessert. Solo singer and accoustic guitar player Tony Fisher will perform songs well-known and loved, without leaving out the mushy ones. Enjoy an evening of upbeat music without feeling like having to slow dance with a bar stool. While dinner is being served on elegant table linens and white china plates, Jennifer will be perched on a bar stool, eating Godiva chocolates and writing out valentines to her customers. On the back will be a special note, like enjoy a free glass of wine or the appetizer is on me. Don’t be surprised to see her in a gaudy red, pink, purple and pearly-beige outfit and accessories – looking like a Sunday-dressed Victorian bag lady!
Kennedy’s Premium Bar and Grill
366 N Caswell St.
Charlotte, NC 28204
Price: $29.99 per couple
This Irish/American establishment is located in the historic Elizabeth area on the corner of 7th Street and North Caswell. It offers some traditional Irish dishes as well as popular American cuisine. The Valentine’s Day special is a three-course dinner for two. A house bottle of wine is an additional $10. Course one is a choice of house salad, caesar salad or a cup of soup. Enjoy spinach with goat cheese, roasted red peppers, candied pecans and caramelized red onions served with a honey mustard champagne vinaigrette. Or, try the spinach salad with mixed greens, strawberries, feta, roasted cherry tomatoes, toasted almonds and drizzled with a balsamic reduction. The Caesar salad features roasted cherry tomatoes and a lemon Caesar dressing. The second course is a choice of a blackened chicken breast, grilled salmon or a ribeye with bleu cheese crumble, topped with roasted cherry tomatoes and finished with a horseradish hollandaise. A choice of desserts for course three — Guinness cake and Baileys frosting, a strawberry and raspberry swirled cheesecake topped with white chocolate or mixed berries served with whipped cream and coulis. Dress up in special-night attire or just casual. There are some fire-pit tables for a cozy, warm evening.
157 N Trade St.
Matthews, NC 28105
Price: $34.95 per person
In the historic district of downtown Matthews, southeast Charlotte, across the street from the year-round community farmer’s market is Cafe 157. The little sign on the quaint lamppost in front says American bistro, however, European influences abound. Food and wine aficionado owner George Poriotis hails from Athens, Greece. Talking about his love for this particular subject, he mentions his mother as being a wonderful cook. The cafe chef is Moh Bantaleb. Growing up in France, he received his early education in Paris. After coming to America, he served as executive chef to NASCAR driver’s Dale Earnhardt Corporation. The Valentine’s Day special will offer a choice of lobster or filet mignon. The filet will feature shiitake mushrooms and a bordeaux sauce. The 10 oz. main lobster tail will be served with a safron sauce. Asparagus, potato cake or potato gratin will accompany the main entree. Dessert will include a chocolate mousse with strawberries, cheese cake, creme brulee, made with the madagascar vanilla bean or a chocolate mousse cake. Details are important — from the food presentation to the back kitchen cleanliness. Finish a romantic evening with coffee, cocktails or wine. Poriotis says he would love to see the men in a dinner jacket and the women well-dressed!
1928 South Blvd., Suite 200
Charlotte, NC 28203
Price: $89 per couple
Sullivan’s Steakhouse will serve a love it up menu including a three-course Prix Fixe fair and a specialty Valentine’s Day cocktail called the Kiss Royale for an additional $10. The meal includes a choice of a caesar salad, mixed greens, iceberg lettuce wedge or shrimp and lobster bisque. For an entree, choose from filet mignon, New York Strip, ribeye, lamb chops, roasted chicken, broiled salmon or crab-stuffed shrimp. The six offerings of dessert to choose from include chocolate mousse and berries, chocolate covered strawberries, Key Lime pie, New York style cheesecake, bananas foster bread pudding or ice cream. A live jazz band in the bar area completes this romantic evening.
Catherine Lash engagingly connects with people. She has learned that interested listening and thoughtful questioning are the means through which collaboration creates a story. She grew up traveling the world and learning military life in an Air Force family of seven. She currently lives in Charlotte, North Carolina with her husband and three kids. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.