If you're thinking that all of the really popular restaurants in Kansas City are booked up for next Thursday, February 14 - Valentine's Day is one of the busiest nights for restaurants in the United States - you're probably right. But because there are always procrastinators out there who wait until the very last minute to take a loved one out for a romantic dinner, Fat City offers some possibilities to consider in addition to the, well, more obvious alternatives (Winstead's, hot dogs in the parking lot at QuikTrip, In-A-Tub). Everyone has their own budget for this night of head-spinning seduction, so we're presenting ideas for almost every price point.
I LOVE YOU, I'M CHEAP...LET'S EAT
The Horizon's Buffet at the Ameristar Casino (3200 North Ameristar Drive, 816-414-7000) isn't taking reservations on Valentine's Day. It's strictly first-come, first-served for the $24.99 all-you-can-eat buffet.
The California Pizza Kitchen on the Country Club Plaza (4743 Pennsylvania, 816-561-2420) will offer a special Valentine's Day menu for two that includes an appetizer, two entrees and a dessert for $30. The promotion will run over Valentine's Day weekend for four days, from Thursday, February 14, through Sunday, February 17.
Yes, Papa Lew's Soul Delicious (2128 East 12th Street, 816-421-3378) will be open until 7 p.m. February 14, serving the traditional Thursday-night menu (chicken and dumplings, fried fish, fried chicken, neckbones) for $12.33 per person, tax included. But for soul-food lovers who want to get a rush on the Love Train, the restaurant will offer a pre-Valentine's Day dinner this Saturday, February 9, for $35 per couple. A band will perform romantic hits, and the dining room will be open until 10 p.m.
Golden Corral Buffet & Grill (8800 Northwest Skyview Avenue, 816-505-0300). If you don't mind not having a cocktail with dinner and you're needing to eat before the restaurant closes at 9 p.m., the Golden Corral can be Budget Romance Central: a well-laden buffet (featuring the "chocolate wonderfall" on the dessert bar) priced at $10.99 per adult, beverage not included.
Nothing says love - real love - like a plate piled high with aphrodisiac dishes plucked from the steam tables at Westport's Fusion Buffet (4039 Mill, 816-960-6598), which serves an all-you-can-indulge buffet feast for $8.99 until 10 p.m. Imagine gazing deeply into each other's eyes while gobbling up crab legs, fried corn nuggets, Jell-O cubes, sushi and crab Rangoon. With all the money you'll save at dinner, you may have just enough cash left for an intimate getaway at the Blue Bird Motel on Highway 40.
LET ME TAKE YOU AWAY FROM ALL THIS...
A few reservations are still available for Valentine's Day night at the 12-year-old Shields Manor Bistro in Platte City (121 Main, 816-858-5557). It's a tiny restaurant in a historic home, and co-owner DeDe Shields is taking reservations only for two-tops, starting at 5 p.m.
The new Vivilore restaurant (10815 East Winner Road, Independence, 816-836-2222) is still accepting reservations for February 14. Chef Hope Dillon says the regular dinner menu will be available as well as a special $65 per person Valentine's Day menu featuring a choice of special appetizers, two entree options (a bone-in Porterhouse steak or a 7-ounce lobster tail), side dishes and a choice of dessert.
Genovese Italian Restaurant in Lawrence, Kansas (941 Massachussetts, 785-842-0300) still has reservations open for Valentine's Day evening, but for those who can't make it that night, the popular Italian bistro will also offer chef and co-owner Armando Pariagua's four-course $55 menu (the price does not include tax or gratuity) on February 15 and 16 as well, from 8 to 10 p.m. The featured meal begins with stuffed calamari with shrimp, breadcrumbs, asparagus and parmesan, followed by a citrus salad with arugula, candied walnuts, shaved parmesan and raspberry vinaigrette. The main entree will be pan-seared New Zealand lamb chops with lentils, potatoes, roasted tomatoes and mushroom sauce, followed by a Bing cherry mascarpone tart. Wine pairings with each dish costs an additional $12.
AND NOW, FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT
The legendary V's Italiano Ristorante in Independence (10819 East Highway 40, 816-353-1241) is still accepting reservations for February 14. The regular dinner menu will be available, as well as the 6-ounce batter-fried lobster tail, which is usually only available on weekends. The $31.50 dinner includes salad, bread, ricotta-stuffed pasta shells in white wine sauce, and rum cake.
Ophelia's Restaurant in Independence (201 North Main, Independence, 816-461-4525) still has a few reservations for dinner and dancing (ballroom instructors will be on hand) on February 14. The regular menu will be offered, as well as a $50 four-course featured dinner.
Iconoclastic - and talented - local chef-restaurateur Ray "Pete" Peterman has a few dinner reservations available for his prix-fixe four-course $32 meal served on February 14 at Peanches (900 West 39th Street) but with a caveat: Patrons must have previously dined at the restaurant and can only make a reservation through the Peanches Facebook page.