I got a message from Eddie Crane, who owns The Drop. He had some news concerning the Valentine's Day menu that his Martini Corner bar had been promoting. Because the message contained personal information I won't reprint all of it but here's the gist:
I would like to apologize for sending an e-mail so soon after our Valentine's Day announcement. However, we have suffered a tragedy here at The Drop that effects the very same dinner mentioned in that email... we must sadly announce that the special menu we spoke of will be unavailable on Sat. Feb. 14th. Our normal menu will be available for the entire duration of the evening and we hope you will still join us for dinner. Once again, we apologize for the suddenness of this cancellation... thank you for your continued support and patronage. Sincerely, Eddie Crane and the staff of The Drop.
In her book Garlic and Sapphires, food critic Ruth Reichl talks about her terrible visits to one of New York's priciest restaurants called the Box Tree. The food was crap, the hostess mean. While Reichl grows angry with her service, she notices a young, cheaply clothed couple looking sad. She asks them some questions and quickly learns they've been saving up for months for this one shoddy meal. Reichl asks if they're disappointed and the young man nods. "But the books! I read all the books and they said this was the best place. The most romantic!"
So one young couple learned what old hands already know: that many a restaurant coasting on its "most romantic" rating does not have good food, or even serviceable food.
The stereotypical Valentine's Day gifts are flowers and chocolates. Scarily, those are also the stereotypical gifts of Mother's Day. (Try not to think about that too much.)
Chocolates, especially ones made locally like Andre's, Annedore's, Elbow Chocolates or Panache, are great and flowers are good too I guess. But if you're only buying chocolates and flowers you're missing out on the great opportunity that is champagne.
Yes, it is customary to get a glass of bubbly at dinner -- but that isn't where champagne works best on Valentine's. Champagne and chocolates work best after dinner, when you're at home. Not only does champagne taste great with chocolate but it's the ultimate aphrodisiac. It's much easier to down a bottle of champagne quickly than it is a regular bottle of wine -- and it's easy to pick a good champagne too.
At New Year's I wrote about the different types of champagne. Now it's time to remember them.
Valentine's Day is on Saturday, which means today and tomorrow are really the last two days you can plan a stress-free holiday. By stress-free I mean not having to order priority shipping or bribe a maitre'd for a restaurant table or pick through the leftovers at the florist.
I can't help you with the shipping or the flowers. But getting a reservation at a tony restaurant under tough circumstances is right up my alley. Which brings me to today's tip: six-tops are never booked on Valentine's Day.
A six-top is a table that can seat six. Some restaurants actually employ two smaller tables to make a six-top, and rest assured those will be split up on Valentine's Day. But for restaurants that actually have big tables, they're never booked on Valentine's Day.
Restaurants hate giving up these tables to couples because it's four seats that they're losing revenue on. So the way to get these coveted six-tops is to get two other couples together and go as a party on Valentine's Day. The restaurant will love you for it and you'll be surprised at the locations that are still taking six-top reservations.
Also, if you plan to go the first route and bribe the maitre'd, know the ground rules.
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