Valentine's Day (aka Black Sunday) is just three days away, and if you haven't made a restaurant reservation yet, well, it's time to think about cooking at home (or perhaps visiting a White Castle near you). But don't feel left out, I won't be dining out either...by choice, mind you. So even if you have secured a two-top at some romantic spot, I'll still try talk you out of it. Not because I have a disdain for self-proclaimed romantic restaurants or because I take issue with "love." No, I have five other reasons why you should never go out for a Valentine's Day dinner.
1. Amateur night Like New Year's Eve, Valentine's Day attracts restaurant novices--those people that complain too much about their wait or their table or their undercooked steak. Too many rookies at any one restaurant can disrupt the flow and feel of a place. It's the same reason I avoid hotspots on the weekend. The chances of mediocre meal are greatly increased.
2. Inflation "Free glass of champagne with your dinner" really means "we've raised the price of food items to make up for it." That's harsh, I know. But any smart, savvy restaurant will charge more for, say, a three course prix-fixe on Valentine's Day than on a normal day. I'd rather spend my money on a nice bottle of Champagne.
3. Miserable Staff No, not every waiter is going to be miserable. Just most of them. They know the amateurs (see #1) will test their patience and tip poorly. Plus, they'd rather be at home with their loved one.
4. Mediocre Food Even the best chefs cook at their worst on Valentine's Day. It's a burn-and-churn night, and the chef just wants to get through it without too many screw-ups. The amateurs (again, see #1) want oysters, salmon, lamb, and chocolate and the chef must deliver.
5. Overcrowding Exactly what is romantic about eating in a loud, packed-to-the-rafters dining room (yes, restaurants add extra tables for night's like this) with fifty other couples? If you enjoy that more than a quiet, roast chicken dinner at home, perhaps you're with the wrong person.
Bottom line: If you love your partner, cook for them.
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