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Valentine’s Day, celebrated by couples at all stages of romance, is a prime night for dining out. Even the best home cooks may surrender the job to the pros when it comes to shucking oysters, searing foie gras, or creating elaborate chocolate desserts. And who wants to ruin the postprandial warm and happy mood by filling Tupperware with leftovers and loading the dishwasher? How much nicer to hold hands across a restaurant table and say to the waiter, “Why yes, I will have another glass of wine.”
These Maine restaurants will take good care of you and your special someone on Valentine’s Day. Since it falls on a Saturday this year, reservations are a must; some restaurants are also offering the same menus on Friday evening.
555 Congress St. | 207-761-0555 | fivefifty-five.com
Celebrate your love in one of Portland’s top dining rooms, decorated in a classic, contemporary style. The 4-course menu offers choices in each course — main courses include truffled lobster mac ‘n cheese, sturgeon with artichokes, Pineland Farm striploin and venison with dried fruit mole — $75 per person, with wine pairings available for an additional cost. Also offered on Friday and Sunday.
190 State St. | 207-553-7044 | bistropj.com
What could be more romantic than a French bistro where the servers sport jaunty striped shirts and the front window looks out over snowy Longfellow Square. Chef Frederic Eliot’s 3-course Valentine’s Day menu includes French classics such as escargot, lamb tenderloin with sauce forestiere and chocolate terrine with pistachios and creme anglaise, as well as the option of a 32-ounce cote de boeuf for two. $65 per person with Champagne and wine pairings available. Reservations being taken for 3 seatings.
111 Middle St.| 207-747-5307 | piccolomaine.com
Named to a short list of “Best New Romantic Restaurants in America” by Travel & Leisure magazine in 2014, Piccolo is a 20-seat, rustic Italian gem owned by husband and wife chefs Damian Sansonetti and Ilma Lopez. On Valentine’s Day, they will serve a 5-course tasting menu, welcoming guests with a glass of rose prosecco. The menu will feature Wagyu beef, Basket Island Oysters, caviar, New England seafood, local Stonecipher farms vegetables and pastry chef Lopez’ decadent desserts. $75 per person. Two seatings: 5:30-6:15 p.m. and 7:30 – 8:15 p.m.
593 Congress St. | 207-653-8617 | vinland.me
Maine’s only all-local restaurant will offer a 10-item special tasting menu, $180 for two. Wine pairings are available: $50 per person for 5 non-sparkling wines or $65 for 4 non-sparkling wines and 1 champagne. Chef/owner David Levi also offers a “double date discount” – $300 for the tasting menu for four. Prices do not include gratuity. Two seatings: 6 and 9 p.m. Tickets purchased via brownpapertickets.com include a small processing fee. Tickets may also be purchased by calling the restaurant.
157 High St. (at the Westin Harborview Hotel) | 207-517-8831 | congresssquared.com
Chef Tim LaBonte’s menu is priced a la carte, but includes cheese fondue for two as a starter for $19, and a chilled seafood platter for $65. Among the entree choices are seared sea scallops with beet polenta, cream of kale and trout roe oil, pork shank osso buco and grilled filet of beef.
11 Free St. | 207-956-7350 | sur-lie.com
For its first Valentine’s Day, Sur Lie will offer a prix-fixe menu of 8 small plates; highlights include foie gras torchon, Spanish octopus, beef short ribs and Catbird Creamery balsamic strawberry ice cream. $65 per person. The regular menu is also available.
86 Commercial St. (Custom House Wharf) | 207-774-5725 | boonesfishhouse.com
Chef Harding Lee Smith is offering a 4-course All-Lobster menu for $115 per couple, which includes a bottle of rose cava. A second option is a 4-course prix-fixe menu with two choices in each of three courses for $55 per person, including a glass of prosecco. Most menu items are also available a la carte.
505 Fore St. | 207-772-8242 | zapotecarestaurant.com
Avocado ravioli with spiced shrimp, rib eye steak with mole negro, and ancho chocolate cake are just a few of the dishes on chef Shannon Bard’s special menu, offered both Friday and Saturday for $60 per person. Wine/tequila/cocktail pairings are $25 additional.
527 Ocean House Rd.| 207-799-3134 | thegoodtablerestaurant.net
The Kostopoulos family will transform their homey restaurant with white linens and candles; a romantic setting in which to enjoy sparkling cocktails, chef Ryan Weeks’ menu favorites plus specials, and “desserts that would make cupid blush.”
40 Bowery Beach Rd.| 207-799-3134 | innbythesea.com/dining
Start your evening with a drink in the cozy bar before taking a seat in the inn’s ocean-view dining room. Four-course prix-fixe menu is $80 per person or $110 per person with wine pairings. Offered both Friday and Saturday.
2 Fort Rd. | 207-741-5543 | smcc.edu
The culinary students of SMCC, under the direction of the executive chef, will prepare a four-course dinner for parties of two served by student staff in the school’s oceanside dining room. $75 per couple plus tax and gratuity. Cash bar. Reservations begin at 6 p.m. For reservations, call 207-741-5672 or email events@smccME.edu.
4 Noble St.| 207-837-6565 | thebrunswickhotelandtavern.com
Chef David Pendexter’s 3-course, prix-fixe dinner includes choices in each course and a glass of Champagne or prosecco for $46 per person. The regular Tavern menu will also be available. Reservations are being taken for between 5 and 10 p.m.
4 Noble St.| 207-725-9002 | tao-yuan.me
Chef Cara Stadler will serve a 7-course tasting menu featuring “luxurious and decadent ingredients such as oysters, Maine crab dumplings, and braised oxtail” for $58 per person, with wine pairings an additional $38. The tentative menu will be posted on the restaurant’s website by the end of the week.
45 Main St.| 207-985-3351 | thekennebunkinn.com
At their convivial restaurant, chefs Shanna and Brian O’Hea offer a fixed-price, three-course menu with choices in each course for $49.95 per person. The sweet finish is a special “couples desserts,” such as coeur a la creme with strawberries or “icebox frozen milkshake.” Serving from 5 to 9 p.m. on Feb. 14.
37 Beach Ave.| 207-967-2321 | whitebarninn.com
Long considered one of Maine’s most romantic restaurants, the dining room at The White Barn Inn has been welcoming happy couples on Valentine’s Day for 40 years. On Feb. 13 and 14, an intimate, four-course dinner is $130 per person, not including tax and gratuity. Optional wine pairings $85. The “Cupid’s Menu Gourmand,” offered for the same price, includes smoked salmon tartare, Wagyu beef loin, foie gras-braised short ribs and chocolate strawberry crepe souffle.
208 Ocean Ave.| 207-967-4015 | capearundelinn.com/dining
The aptly named Ocean is sophisticated and serene, with a sweeping view of the open Atlantic — beautiful even in winter. On Feb. 13 and 14, Pierre Gignac is serving a 3-course “Aphrodisiac Menu” with all courses priced for two, including lobster and chanterelle risotto ($36), chateaubriand with bernaise sauce ($72) and “chocolate delice ($26).” The regular winter menu is also available.As one of the Kennebunk/Kennebunkport restaurants participating in the “Paint the Town Red” promotion, Ocean is offering 1/2-dozen oysters with blood orange Cosmopolitans for two for $20, beginning on Feb. 13.
92 Bourne Lane | 207-646-4777 | jonathansogunquit.com
Premier seats ($55) to the “Straight Lace Valentine’s Day Dance” on Feb. 14 include a $25 dinner credit to be used in the dining room before the show, dessert or beverages, tax and shuttle/valet service. Show Plus tickets ($30) include dessert and coffee or 1 beverage, gratuity, tax and shuttle valet service. Show only tickets are $16. A la carte dinner menu includes caramelized salmon, Maine seafood pasta, steak and lobster.
//SHOW INFO + TICKETS
83 Bayview St. | 207-236-7008 | nataliesrestaurant.com
With its bright red upholstered chairs and lampshades, set off by sparkling white tablecloths, swanky Natalie’s is an especially appropriate setting for romance. Chefs Shelby Stevens and Chris Long’s luxurious 6-course tasting menu begins with oysters and caviar and finishes with a macaroon tasting. $102 per person with wine pairings an additional $82 per person. The chefs’ lobster tasting menu will also be available for $109 per person; wine pairings $76
41 Elm St., Camden | 207-236-4259 | hartstoneinn.com
If old-fashioned romance is your cup of tea, spend Valentine’s Day surrounded by Victorian charm in the chintz and lace-trimmed dining room at this cozy, food-centric B&B. Chef/owner Michael Salmon’s five-course prix-fixe menu starts with an amuse-bouche of oysters Rockefeller and ends with a selection of treats to take home – or back to your room. $65 per person.