Hooray, it’s Valentine’s Day! We are going to celebrate by staying home. And I love it.
It hasn’t always been this way. In fact, the venue we used for our rehearsal dinner was also the site of our 2010 Valentine’s Day dinner. And we had some memorable V-Day dinners in St. Louis. But since, oh, 2011? I think? We haven’t really gone out for Valentine’s Day, and there’s a really good reason for that: the service almost universally sucks.
No, it’s not the staff’s fault. They are busting their asses to cook, plate, and bring forth the feast. But they are also overwhelmed and overbooked; at max capacity and struggling to stay above water and out of the weeds. I can see it in their eyes, and in the plating. Valentine’s Day is all about profit to the restaurant biz; putting asses in seats and then getting them to order off the prix fixe menu. And even when the service doesn’t suck, you eat your meal feeling like at any moment the manager is going to show up and give you a Meaningful Look while tapping on her watch.
I don’t blame them. This is America. This is what we do. This is what we did, until the year we didn’t.
The year we decided to stay in and enjoy an easy but luxurious meal was the year I started really enjoying my Valentine’s Day dinner. I always pick foodstuffs that are simple, but a bit of a splurge. Scallops one year, steak another, and tonight — cheese. We’re doing a three-cheese plate with some meat and some bread, maybe some pickled onions, jam, honey, nuts, and sliced strawberries, and a simple frozen dessert. All decadent, but nothing crazy, and nothing I have to cook. There will also be wine. Perhaps even Prosecco. And a baby. Who will probably eat all the strawberries.
Because the trick, we found, is not to go out on Valentine’s Day: it’s to go out a day or two after.
And on Sunday, that’s what we’ll do. We’ll have dinner with friends, then retire to a nice upscale bar we like in the Gaslamp District, at a hotel we stayed at for a weekend. We did a Valentine’s Weekend (well, a President’s Day Weekend) there in 2012, sort of a mini-babymoon (one of two), and had a hell of a good time drinking, loving, strolling the streets, and being a ridiculously happy couple.
We’ll gather up the memory of that wonderful weekend as we enjoy our cocktails and each other’s company, and as we tink a glass (or two), we’ll share a kiss, and a “Happy Valentine’s Day, honey.” And that, my friends, is this boring ol’ sentimental couple for you.