By Thom Smith
Virginia may be for lovers, but let’s face it, if you could choose where to be on Valentine’s Day, which would you prefer: some icy condo along the Chesapeake Bay or one of the choice beachfront resorts along A1A between Lake Worth and Highland Beach? To sweeten the pot, several of our local resorts are offering lovebird specials that show off the best in their bedrooms and their kitchens.
♥ While the Palm Beaches have nothing to compare to the Seine, The Restaurant at The Four Seasons will offer Valentine’s Day images of Paris represented by brilliant flower arrangements, a chocolate Eiffel Tower, candles and live jazz, plus a special four-course menu from Executive Chef Darryl Moiles. Price: a modest $95. (561-582-2800).
After a summer hiatus, The Restaurant reopened in late November with a new look and a more casual atmosphere and a new menu acknowledging guests’ desires for more Atlantic seafood dishes, the fresher the better.
Thanks to modern technology and transportation, Moiles can order Dover sole from Europe at 6 p.m., and serve it the next night, usually enhanced with herbs from the resort’s own organic herb garden, weather permitting. Sometimes, however, weather prohibits, as the recent cold snap left the garden wilted and useless. It will recover quickly, but in the interim, Moiles can rely on fresh herbs grown locally in greenhouses protected from the elements.
♥ For six couples only, the Omphoy — a brief northward stroll from the Lake Worth Pier — offers a sweetheart deal: private beach dinners for two, in one of four private beachside dining rooms or one of two pagodas nestled among the lush foliage on the terrace. James Beard Award-winning chef Michelle Bernstein has worked up a five-course menu that starts with oysters, a classic aphrodisiac, and caviar and ends with a decadent dessert for two with wine and Champagne to complement each dish. Strolling musicians, glistening stars and the sounds of waves breaking on the shore add to the romantic experience. The private dining rooms start at $500, the pagodas at $400.
Once those are taken, or for those with more modest expectations, dining reservations also are accepted at Michelle Bernstein at The Omphoy. Guests wishing to make a day of it can hit Exhale Spa for a deep flow massage or a facial, followed by dinner and then extend the bliss in one of the resort’s 130 rooms with rates starting at $349. (561-540-6440 or www.omphoy.com
♥ Based upon first impressions, you might think Ritz-Carlton Executive Chef Ryan Artim has gone off the deep end of the resort’s pool. He’s featuring a deluxe BBQ burger for two in The Breeze outdoor patio. But the Ritz never does anything ordinary. The Breeze’s Bubbly & BBQ dinner, meant to be shared, includes a 16-ounce sirloin burger for two, with barbecue-braised short ribs, Gorgonzola tater tots and a bottle of Champagne. The complete dinner is $100, or share just the burger with your sweetheart for $40.
Artim also has a cabana dinner of four courses: a seafood ice starter (with Florida stone crab, citrus poached shrimp, Wianno oysters and American caviar), farmer’s dream salad (Local heirloom tomatoes, Buratta cheese, Opal basic and aged balsamic drizzle), Land & Water Delight Main Course (wood-grilled dry-aged filet mignon, horseradish-crust fennel-glazed sea bass, Champagne buerre blanc-herbed Parmesan polenta, jumbo asparagus, roasted porcini mushroom sauce) and Cupid’s Heartbeat dessert (strawberry chocolate Kit Kat bar, strawberry sorbet). Wash it down with two premium cocktails, two glasses of Champagne and a choice bottle of wine for $500 per couple.
Artim has even come up with a take-out Valentine’s special: a bottle of Champagne, a seafood platter (12 Gulf shrimp, eight oysters, four stone crab claws, with sauces), fresh salad of field greens, red beets, spiced walnuts, cucumber and a Champagne dressing, a main course of two eight-ounce filets mignon with horseradish crust, au gratin potato, asparagus and fricassee of mushroom, and a decadent Cupcake Tic-Tac-Toe Dessert. Price: $150.
Temple Orange, the resort’s signature restaurant, will offer Valentine’s Day pre fixe menu at $120 per couple on Feb. 13 and 14. From Feb. 6-21, the Ritz’s Eau Spa is offering “Pearls and Champagne” Valentine’s specials ranging from a $75 do-it-yourself package to a $485 signature treatment that includes cocktails, chocolates, Champagne bubble bath and full body massage. (561-533-6000).
♥ A little further south, the Delray Beach Marriott’s Romance Package, not only for Valentine’s Day but throughout the season, offers a deluxe oceanfront suite, breakfast for two, a $75 voucher applicable for dinner or room service, bottle of Champagne and strawberries upon arrival and late check out. Valentine’s weekend price $449, with promotion code LVU. Additionally, the Marriott’s Seacrest Grill has lovebird specials for non-guests. (561-274-3200).
♥ And just a block to the west, The Seagate in Delray is offering deluxe rooms, Champagne and “tuxedo” strawberries upon arrival and a couples massage in The Seagate Spa for $725 a night from Feb. 11-21. That’s 20 percent off its regular rate. For guests who prefer not to hit one of the many restaurants along Atlantic Avenue, executive chef Adam Gottlieb has worked up a romantic menu. (561-665-4800).
Joyce Brown at Flamingo Clay studio has put out a call to her fellow artists to fire 1,000 individual bowls for the Haitian Empty Vessel project at Clay Glass Metal Stone Gallery in Lake Worth. People can buy the bowls ($25 or four for $80 in advance, $35 at the door) and then use them to sample a “taste of Lake Worth” at many of the town’s restaurants on a date to be determined in early March.
Details are still sketchy because Brown wanted to generate bowl production first, but restaurants are already responding, she said. Each bowl will be handcrafted and buyers will be able to choose theirs at the gallery, first come, first served. Those e-mailing Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org will be notified of the details. Anyone wishing to become involved or seeking more information may call 561-588-8344.
Now that his new Delray gastropub, The Office, is open, and celeb chef Mark Militello is lording over the kitchen, owner David Manero can finally relax.
R-i-i-i-ght! Word has it Manero often sits at an outside table that allows scrutiny of not only The Office, at the northeast corner of Atlantic and Second Avenue, but also his popular Vic & Angelo’s across the street. Manero describes The Office as “not quite a bar and not quite a restaurant … offering a casual-meets-refined atmosphere that welcomes beer drinkers and wine snobs, non-fussy eaters, and foodies alike … A charming neighborhood watering hole.”