Posted by: cgratton | February 11, 2009

Feel (and Eat) the Love

Valentine’s Day.  A day I used to rue the very existence of.  A day I couldn’t help but sneer at each smug couple walking arm in arm all lovey-dovey around me, bubbled in their own little cocoon of mushiness.  Because, it was a day that I was actually forced to feel guilty for my single-dom (damn you, Hallmark).  But this year, I must confess that I, too, have become one of them.  Against my past protests and faithful vows never to become “like that,” I have crossed over to the dark side and entered my own little cocoon of mushiness.

Now, as the big day quickly approaches, I want the most romantic night possible with my boyfriend.  My travel-hungry imagination immediately equates this to jet setting to Tahiti, spending a week on some white-sand beach, sipping umbrella-adorned drinks and horseback riding along turquoise water.  Pretty much recreating a Sandals Resort commercial.

But, alas, I am a lowly college student and cannot even afford to properly feed myself, let alone finance an exotic vaca.

But, I have to look on the bright (and realistic) side–New York City is an ideal place for a romantic and affordable Valentine’s Day night out.

One reason it’ll be cheaper than last year?  The economy is in the tank and restaurants are feeling the backlash.  In a city where fierce competition was already a deciding factor between a restaurant lasting five minutes, or failing before anyone even notices, New Yorkers’ pockets are tightening, and it’s a no-brainer for them to cut out going out.

It’s known in the restaurant business that January is always the hardest month financially.  After the holiday credit card bills start rolling in, everyone seems to hibernate in shell-shock for a month and live off their left-overs.  As noted by Gotham Bar and Grill chef and owner, Alfred Portale, in a New York Times article last week, this January was “the toughest January I’ve ever seen.”

But what does this mean for us?  Well it means that restaurant deals will be at an all-time high for Valentine’s Day, the unofficial “kick-off” back into the black for restaurants.

Prix-Fixe menus are keeping their low price tags from Restaurant Week last month firmly in place, as the recession has caused the special dining promotion week to be extended until Feb. 27.  And that means that there are great deals to be had…er, eaten.

Even NYCs most acclaimed chefs are feeling the economic pinch..

Even NYC's most acclaimed chefs are feeling the economic pinch..

Here are some of the best deals I’ve found:

Aleo.  A highly rated NY Magazine favorite, this innovative Mediterranean-Italian fusion restaurant, nestled cozily in the Flatiron District, is offering a $49, 4-course menu accompanied by live music while you dine.

For something a little more casual and a lot spicier, Agave in the West Village is serving a 4-course menu with corresponding tequila pairings for $75 per person.  An upscale Mexican cantina, Agave offers over 83 kinds of tequila, so dining here will surely make Valentine’s Day a little more interesting…

Decisions, decisions...

Decisions, decisions...

Knife + Fork Restaurant and Wine Bar in the East Village is offering a 6-course tasting menu for only $45 ($85 with wine pairings).  The modern European fare is highly rated and the wine list is reasonably priced, so a long, sumptuous meal will leave you and your pockets full.

For maximum privacy (and canoodling) try Zenkichi in Williamsburg.  This self-titled “modern Japanese brasserie” has private, curtained booths and call buttons to signal your server.  For $75, couples can dine on a decadent tasting platter and choose from a wide selection of sakes.

For the most intimate dining experience, dine at Zenkichi

For the most intimate dining experience, dine at Zenkichi

To find more options like these, Grubstreet and Eater, two extremely helpful and popular NYC restaurant guide blogs, have begun to mark these “recession deals” daily on their sites.  Mmmm, economic disaster never tasted so good.


  1. interesting , hope you get good time with bf . happy valentine

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