Why Not to Do the Fancy Restaurant Meal Thing for Valentine's Day

Rachel Tepper Paley
February 6, 2014

Image credit: StockFood

Imagine the scene: You stare soulfully into the eyes of your loved one. You gently caress her hand. “Darling, here’s a small token of my love.” Then you proceed to shell out nearly $100,000 on an eight-course tasting menu loaded up with decadent ingredients like foie gras, saffron, caviar, Wagyu beef, truffles, and gold leaf. What better way to demonstrate your love?

Actually, there are far better ways. Like cooking your partner a meal at home. Tailoring a day’s worth of activities to revolve around everything he loves. Refurbishing your beloved’s childhood teddy bear. You get the picture.

Reality check: That over-the-top dinner is a real thingoffered this Valentine’s Day by Michelin-starred chef Adam Simmonds. It costs 60,000 pounds, or $99,491.15 in good old American cash. 

And we think whoever splashes out the cash for it will be missing the point.

We get that Valentine’s Day, as it’s celebrated today, is often about commercialism. The day’s acts of demonstrative love often take the form of fancy baubles or expensive restaurant dinners. We suggest you rethink your approach. It’s the loving thing to do.

Here’s why:

1. You probably won’t be served the mind-blowing meal you anticipated.

Bon Appétit’s Andrew Knowlton calls the holiday “amateur night," and with good reason. Restaurants are usually packed to the gills on Valentine’s Day, often with people who don’t go out to eat very often. Overpriced prix-fixe menus tend to skew towards dishes that will please most palates; this isn’t when you’ll see the chef cooking ambitious fare.

2. The kitchen is totally stressed out.

Your waiter is in overdrive to get meals on tables. You can expect (more often than not) poorly-executed food, a grumpy, harried waitstaff, and lots of elbow-bumping. 

3. That means lots of things are out of your control. 

The whole idea behind treating someone to a romantic night out is actually delivering on the romance. Even when you’ve made reservations weeks in advance, the best-planned restaurant meal can go awry if the lights aren’t sufficiently dimmed, the salmon sits under a heat lamp for too long, or your waiter forgets to refill your water glass for the third time. Not romantic. 

4. Fancy restaurant meals have a time and place, but spending a ton of cash isn’t romantic.

Sure, you picked up the check. Great. But handing over a credit card doesn’t require much effort on your part. Really, it’s kind of a cop out.

Show your partner you love him by whipping up a special meal at home. Maybe procure some specialty ingredients from a shop across town. Or kick up your game by tackling a complicated recipe outside your normal repertoire.

If your Valentine is as loving as you are, the effort will most certainly be appreciated.

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