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Do you have any suggestions for something different, fun, and/or creative for Valentine's Day? Nancy M., Brentwood
Of course I do, and all across the board, from restaurants you can still get into to where to propose marriage.
Restaurants: For Valentine's Day, most couples opt for a nice dinner, but the most popular places fill up quickly. Consider, then, the newer, maybe-not-yet-on-local-radar restaurants, places like the Frontenac Grill (Chef David Timney is at the helm), Root (hearty fare from Brian Hardesty of Terrene fame), Kelly English Steakhouse (solid choices are the fried oysters, the "Cajun midnight snack," and the stuffed strip steak, an item featured on "The Best thing I Ever Ate"), J. Gilbert's (another new steakhouse with good food and better service), or even Blood & Sand (a "members only" supper club, but the owners allow an introductory dinner to get the feel of the place). At press time, there were tables available at all of the above.
Champagne: Seek out a "Grower" Champagne, special occasion bubbles that pairs well with whatever you're eating and whatever you're doing. You'll find the best selection at The Wine Merchant in Clayton.
Hotel/B&B: I call them "Gateway Getaways," a one- or two-day stay at one of the city's hotels: The Ritz in Clayton, The Four Seasons downtown, The Chase Park Plaza, The Cheshire, the Ballpark Hilton (see tie-in below). Out of town, I can vouch for the jacuzzi rooms upstairs at Dr. Hertich's House and both the food and fare at Overlook Farm in Clarksville. In sleepy little Rocheport, you won't go wrong at either the Amber House or the Yates House. Grab a meal minutes away in Columbia at (in ascending order) Booche's, Flat Branch Pub, Murry's, or Sycamore.
Proposal Spot: If this is the day to pop the question, my choice is to do so on the private, cantilevered outdoor porch (the one that faces the Arch) at Three Sixty, the bar/restaurant located on the roof of the Ballpark Hilton downtown. If the weather stays mild, all the better; if it becomes seasonal, the porch is equipped with a robust fire pit. Be sure to call the GM at Three Sixty to make arrangements.
Chocolates: For something a little different, consider Christopher Elbow 's Valentine Collection (above), special-order only from either Nadoz Cafe location; or a unique take on the chocolate-covered strawberry (right) from newbie RJ Chocolatier in Chesterfield. For gourmet chocolates (including chocolate-covered wine bottles) paired with a B&B, consider The Chocolate Affair in Highland, Il, where you can "spend the night in a candy store." My most recent discovery is the brand new blue cheese truffles from Oh Sheila! Chocolates, an odd-sounding but addictive little treat (especially when paired with a wee glass of port). Back up your selection with a few strips of Sheila's killer chocolate-covered bacon.
Something Unexpected: Speaking of bacon, you can always make up a dozen bacon roses. (S)he will either love you forever or think you've totally lost your mind...and love you nonetheless.
Happy Valentine's Day.