Valentine’s Day is coming up — fast! Forewarned is forearmed. Make a reservation now.
The holiday falls on a Sunday, so the entire weekend will be booming for local restaurants. As a matter of fact, some that are normally closed will be open (see below).
Aren’t sure about your plans? Make a reservation. It’s probably one of the few times you can cancel short notice (we are talking a few hours, not minutes). Folks will arrive sans reservation and/or there may be names on a wait list to fill your seats.
Act now, and you’ll look like a hero (or heroine). Here are some suggestions for your love feast.
Whisk your love off to Paris, or at least nearby versions.
At Coco (888 Main St.) the menu with its peasant French flair won’t break the bank. The place is utterly romantic too. A special dinner menu is planned for Feb. 12-14 and includes items like dessert for two. Coco opens at 5 p.m. Feb. 12-13 and 4:30 p.m. Feb. 14.
Across the border, the Paris Crepes Café (4613 Queen St., Niagara Falls, Ont.) brings it all together with food, music and atmosphere. A special Valentine’s dinner menu will be offered for $38.50 per person (Canadian) on Feb. 13-14. Revel in authentic French dishes like Coq Au Vin and Chocolate Mousse crepes.
If you can’t go for dinner, brunch is served from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Parisian décor completes the romantic scene while the favorable exchange rate will help your wallet.
To enjoy crepes stateside visit Breakin’ Eggs Creperie (5235 Main St., Williamsville). It is open daily (except Monday) from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. They don’t take reservations, so be prepared to wait.
For an over-the-top experience, nothing beats the Rue Franklin (341 Franklin St.) where masterful Chef/owner Corey Kley wows diners on a nightly basis. He’s cooked at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, so he’s legit.
Normally closed on Sunday, Kley said they will be open and serving a $75 per person prix fixe that features a first course, main course and dessert. Cost excludes tax, gratuity and drinks. (Note: Rue Franklin won’t be offering its signature six-course “Out Chef” that evening.)
“Valentine’s is a balancing act since we like to showcase our restaurant to fresh faces but we don’t get too silly and alienate our regular customers,” he said. The menu will include some standards like rack of lamb, filet mignon and fresh fish.
For dessert, the classic coeur à la crème (heart of cream) makes its appearance. The creamy, no-bake style heart-shaped cheesecake will be infused with France’s Cointreau — an orange-flavored liqueur — and served with a strawberry coulis.
For a day outing, combine food with French Impressionism. Have lunch at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery’s AK Café (1285 Elmwood Ave.), serving from noon to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.
Follow up with a stroll to see art from greats like Claude Monet. End your day back in the café where it serves sweets, coffee and tea from 3 to 5 p.m.
Love, Italian style
At Sinatra’s Trilogy (938 Kenmore Ave.) send your love smoldering looks as you sweat over a plate of Shrimp Fra Diavolo from a corner table. Great food, service, ambiance and music from the world’s greatest crooner make this joint a hot destination. The regular menu will be served.
The ying to Sinatra’s southern Italian yang is San Marco Ristorante's (2082 Kensington Ave.) northern Italian menu with all its buttery and herby influences. At the heart are owners Frank Grimaldi, who works the front of the house, and his wife Nancy, the chef. The couple is a true testament to love and marriage if there ever was one. Because it’s such a busy night, the menu will be a condensed version of the regular menu.
Last but not least is the romantic Ristorante Lombardo (1198 Hertel Ave.). It also will be open on Valentine's Day and run a limited menu that features special Valentine's dinner specials.
South of the border
In Orchard Park, at OP Social Tap and Grille (4247 North Buffalo Road) enjoy a special $99 prime rib dinner for two being served on Valentine's Day in addition to its regular menu. The meal includes a glass of wine per person, an appetizer for two, a house salad or Caesar salad, prime rib dinner and dessert.
Seating begins at 4 p.m., price does not include tax or gratuity.
Also in Orchard Park, Mangia Ristorante & Caffe (4264 North Buffalo Road) — normally closed on Sunday — will be open from 4 to 9 p.m., serving its regular menu along with some special additions.
And in Hamburg, Daniels Restaurant (174 Buffalo St.) will also be open on Valentine’s Day starting at 5 p.m., serving a regular menu plus indulgences like big steaks, surf and turf and lobster tails.
Drive down lover’s lane
Want to extend the time with your love? These places are worthy of the trek:
At Jaguar at the Bistro (110 Main St., Youngstown), chef/owner Victor Parra Gonzalez said he will be offering a $120 for dinner for two that includes a bottle of wine, two soups, two entrees and a special dessert to share.
"The menu will come together as it gets closer to the holiday, based on the availability from local purveyors. Saturday we will offer the same deal for those who don't like to fight the crowds on the holiday,” Gonzalez notes.
You can be sure the choices will have his usual Mexican flair. Price does not include tax and gratuity. A regular menu will be available, too.
With its “Rustic With Love” slogan, Carmelo’s Restaurant (425 Center St., Lewiston) is a natural V-day destination. It will be open from 5 to 9 p.m. on Valentine's Day. The regular menu will be served along with some special additions.
Zambistro (408 Main St., Medina) will start serving at 2 p.m. on Valentine’s Day. Chef-owner Michael Zambito said they will run dinner specials all weekend, but it’s a special menu on Valentine’s Day that includes the decadent Butter Poached Lobster, champagne drink specials and roses for the ladies.
Two places in Ellicottville are worthy destinations. Dina’s (15 Washington St.) opens daily at 7 a.m. for breakfast and keeps rolling through lunch and dinner. The setting is stunning and modern, yet cozy.
Villagio (7 Monroe St.) provides a variety of options starting with brunch both Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dinner begins at 5 p.m. The food features an Italian slant. Villagio’s sister restaurant is Buffalo’s Osteria 166.