Elizabeth Large's top 10

February 10, 2010

Those restaurants traditionally thought of as most romantic are also the ones most likely to be crowded, with rushed servers and an overworked kitchen.

Not romantic.

My advice if you have to go out on Valentine's Eve (Saturday) or Day (Sunday) is to make an offbeat choice. There might not be quite the atmosphere; but you probably won't spend as much, and no one will mind if you linger, gazing longingly into each other's eyes.

I have, however, included a couple of destination places in case you do feel like spending a little money. The list is in alphabetical order.

If you want to make a splash, Antrim 1844 in Taneytown has Winter Getaway Packages for as little as $119 a person that sound good: They include a room in the mansion, afternoon tea, six-course meal, breakfast and more. To get that price, though, you'll have to plan your visit the Thursday before or the Monday after.

B&O American Brasserie downtown is new enough that people might not be thinking of it as a place for a romantic date. The special menus, which I wrote about before, sound intriguing.

Baba's Mediterranean Kitchen between Federal Hill and Locust Point, voted Best Mediterranean Restaurant in Baltimore by City Paper, will be taking reservations for Valentine's Day (it's usually first come, first served) and will have some specials. It's BYOB.

Belmont in Elkridge isn't a restaurant as such, but it has wine dinners throughout the year, including Friday and Saturday in honor of Valentine's Day. The food is contemporary American, and the prix fixe menu is $75 a person, with wines paired with four of the five courses.

Dukem Ethiopian Restaurant in Mount Vernon. As Baltofoodie points out, you can feed each other by hand, it's very cheap and it's vegetarian-friendly. Also per her recommendation, don't order the honey wine, even though it sounds romantic.

Gertrude's in the BMA. Take part in the museum's Night of Romance or Couples Yoga first, then indulge in Gertrude's Valentine Aphrodisiac Dinner.

Hunan Taste in Catonsville is a relatively new Chinese restaurant that's getting rave reviews. Valentine's Day and Chinese New Year coincide this year, so you could celebrate both holidays with one meal.

Mari Luna Latin Grille in Pikesville is offering a three-course Valentine's dinner for $60 a couple or a four-course dinner with two glasses of sparkling dessert wine for $72 a couple.

Slainte Irish Pub in Fells Point has a delicious-sounding menu for $70 a couple, with choices such as oysters to start and pork tenderloin stuffed with Boursin, apples and raisins with a port reduction.

Ze Mean Bean in Fells Point, a cozy bar with a fireplace, will have Valentine's specials. They just couldn't tell me what they'll be when I called.

Readers talk back
Ah, Valentine's Day ... when we get to sit on our roof and watch the limo drivers circle and circle trying to find parking.

Posted by: Frequent Little Italy Restaurant Visitor

Friendly Farm in Upperco has a special V.D. menu.

Posted by: NotableM

Many years ago, I trekked up a mountainside in the Himalayas in search of knowledge. Weary and aching, I found a wise man sitting cross-legged atop the peak. "Oh, great guru," I asked, "What is the secret of a good life?" Gazing out upon the vast and verdant vista, he solemnly told me, "Never go to a restaurant on New Year's Eve, Mother's Day or Valentine's Day. Especially Valentine's Day." I have taken his sage counsel ever since. But I'll certainly look to your list on less obvious romantic occasions - like when I ask my wife what she's making for dinner and she smiles provocatively as she says, "Reservations."

Posted by: Michael A. Gray

NotableM: does that come with a complimentary side of penicillin?

Posted by: Doug

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