Valentine’s Day 2021 is going to hit a little different than years past because of the pandemic. For couples who have spent a lot of time together over the last year balancing working from home alongside virtual school for their kids, they might need a reprieve from all that extra time together under one roof and want to experience some time at a place where they can feel “normal”. Others have actually managed to meet the loves of their lives during quarantine and are looking for ways to celebrate their first Valentine’s Day together.
There are some amazing ways to support our local restaurants and create a celebration both romantic & fun and most importantly, as safe as we can be within covid protocols.
Here are my Top 3 Favorite Restaurants to celebrate Valentine’s Day in Washington, D.C.
With two locations at 523 8th Street, SE, 20003, and at 2901 Wilson Blvd, 22201, is celebrating Valentine’s Day with a feast of the best traditional dishes from the Balkan Peninsula, prepared with a modern twist. The new Winter Garden invites Virginia lovebirds to experience Ambar Clarendon’s menu outdoors. Couples will dine on unlimited small plates from Ambar’s extensive menu including mezze, soups & salads, vegetables, sliders, house-made pies, meat & poultry, slow-cooked food, and seafood priced at $85 per person, excluding tax and gratuity. Additional small plates which are available exclusively on Valentine’s Day include the Lamb Paté with prunes, horseradish sauce and house-made sourdough; Saffron Risotto with grilled asparagus, parmesan, fish sauce and mascarpone; Stuffed Chicken Schnitzel, panko breaded chicken breast with kajmak, dill and caper tartar sauce; Hand-Cut Fries with chef’s spice mix; Rack of Lamb with parsley butter and pistachio crumbles and a Raspberry Cake for dessert. Ambar’s Valentine’s Day menu will be available exclusively on Sunday, February 14, from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m. There is a two-hour time limit for all parties.
For those looking to experience Valentine’s Day at home, Ambar and Ambar Clarendon will showcase a family-style grab-and-go menu derived from the next-level Balkan dining without limits concept. The seven-course Balkan feast features the Valentine’s Day only exclusive specials and is priced at $79 per couple. The menu includes Freshly Baked Somun and Cornbread; House-made Purple Pickles; Lamb Pâté with prunes, horseradish sauce and house-made sourdough; Saffron Risotto with grilled asparagus, parmesan, fish sauce and mascarpone; Stuffed Chicken Schnitzel, panko breaded chicken breast with kajmak, dill and caper tartar sauce; Hand-Cut Fries with chef’s spice mix; Rack of Lamb with parsley butter and pistachio crumbles and a Raspberry Cake for dessert. Advanced reservations are not required for Ambar’s Valentine’s Day to-go menu as all orders will be made-to-order. For additional information, reservations or to place an order for carryout from Ambar Clarendon please call (703) 875-9663 or visit http://www.ambarrestaurant.com/home-page-clarendon/. For additional information, reservations or to place an order for carryout from Ambar DC please call (202) 813-3039 or visit http://www.ambarrestaurant.com/.
In the Shaw neighborhood of Washington, D.C., HalfSmoke, located at 651 Florida Avenue, NW, 20001, will also be offering a three-course, prix fixe menu this Valentine’s Day priced at $70 per person, or $135 per person with beverage pairings (excluding tax and gratuity). The three-course menu begins with a choice of Cauliflower Bisque with brown butter croutons; Lobster Fritters with tarragon aioli; Arugula Salad with strawberries, avocado and manchego cheese or Grilled Local Oysters with chimichurri sauce. Next, guests will select from five featured entrées which include Roasted Amish Chicken with Spring asparagus, sweet fennel salad, pomegranate vinaigrette and local goat cheese; Live Fire Grilled New York Strip Steak with twice baked potato, creamed spinach and bourbon-peppercorn butter; Plant Based Sausage with rosemary grit cakes, sweet peppers, arugula and honey-soaked figs; Grilled Lobster Tail with brandy-herb butter and brown butter asparagus, as well as HalfSmoke’s Surf & Turf (for two), beef tenderloin, blue crab cake and Rockefeller butter. For a sweet ending, couples will have a choice of Chocolate Fudge Brownie with roasted strawberry ice cream, hot fudge and fresh whipped cream or a Fresh Berry Bowl with raspberry, blueberry, and strawberries. A selection of cocktail pairings will also be available with highlights to include a signature HalfSmoke Champagne Cocktail with sparkling wine, brandy and bitters; White Wine Spritzer with Meyer lemon foam and pomegranates; Catoctin Creek Rye Manhattan with Noilly Prat vermouth and Luxardo; Catoctin Distilling Apple Brandy Metropolitan with Noilly Prat vermouth; Strawberry-Infused Campari Spritz; Cherry Mash Sour with Tennessee whiskey, cherry liquor and lemon and the Kir Royal with sparkling wine, Crème de Cassis and raspberry. As an added bonus, HalfSmoke will feature a celebratory package which includes HalfSmoke’s Surf & Turf (for two), beef tenderloin, blue crab cake and Rockefeller butter and a bottle of Moet Rose Champagne priced at $200 per couple. HalfSmoke’s Valentine’s Day menu will be available for in-house dining, carryout, and delivery. The menu will be available Friday, February 12, Saturday, February 13 and Sunday, February 14, from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Couples will also be able to book a private heated igloo on HalfSmoke’s newly created Winter Wonderland at Resy.com. For additional information or to place an order please call (202) 986-2079 or visit www.halfsmoke.com. Delivery options are also available through GrubHub: https://www.grubhub.com, Postmates: https://postmates.com, Seamless: https://www.seamless.com; UberEats: https://www.ubereats.com, Caviar: https://www.trycaviar.com; Ritual: https://ritual.co and DoorDash: https://www.doordash.com.
Blue Duck Tavern at Park Hyatt Washington, D.C., located at 24th and M Streets, NW, 20037, will showcase a Valentine’s Day three-course dinner menu priced at $135 per person (exclusive of tax and gratuity). The feast commences with an amuse of White Asparagus with ocean trout and caviar followed by first course selection (choose one) of Oyster Soup with spicy ‘nduja, leek, potato, salsify and trout roe; Root Vegetable Salad with smoked beet purée, roasted beet, baby carrot, Virginia peanut crumble and Cherry Glen chevre; Jumbo Lump Crab Cake with caper-lemon remoulade and farm salad, as well as Foie Gras Terrine with apple, Chapman’s gel, mache and hazelnut, served with brioche. A Petrossian Ossetra Caviar (one- ounce serving) with crème fraiche and corn Johnny cakes is an additional choice for a supplemental cost of $110.
Couples will select their entrée from a variety of seasonal chef’s market selections. Standouts include Roasted Lobster with Carolina rice porridge, saffron, leek and clams; Roasted Halibut with beet hummus, maitake mushroom, salsify, and citrus emulsion; Smoked Duck Breast with honey nut squash and baby turnips, farro, chicharron and pomegranate duck jus; Slow-Roasted Beef Tenderloin with creamed spinach, bone marrow, potato pave and perigourdine, as well as Vegetable Pot Pie with black truffle, heirloom root vegetables and herb salad. Lovebirds will conclude the meal with a Petit Gateau, Sicilian olive oil cake with bergamot mousse, pomegranate-rose gelee and pistachio-cardamom. Blue Duck Tavern’s Valentine’s Day feast will be served from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. exclusively on Sunday, February 14. Prepaid reservations required by https://www.exploretock.com/blueducktavern/. For additional information or reservations, please visit blueducktavern.com or call (202) 419 6755.
Blue Duck Tavern’s exceptional cuisine can also be savored at home. Leave the recipes to the chefs for a perfect Valentine’s Day, as one can order one of three seasonal feasts to-go along with a caviar starter for this special evening. Petrossian Ossetra Caviar with crème fraiche and corn Johnny cakes is available to order as is a Whole Rohan Duck with pomegranate gastrique or Slow Roasted Beef Tenderloin with horseradish cream and perigourdine accompanied by two traditional sides, Potato Purée and Roasted Asparagus. For the sweet finale, who can resist seasonal Petit Gateau, Sicilian olive oil cake with bergamot mousse, pomegranate-rose gelee and pistachio-cardamom which is priced at an additional $27. The Petrossian Ossetra Caviar is priced at $125 for one ounce (plus tax and gratuity); the Whole Rohan Duck and sides is priced at $145 per couple (plus tax and gratuity) and the Slow Roasted Beef Tenderloin and sides is priced at $150 per couple (plus tax and gratuity). Orders must be placed by Thursday, February 11 at 5 p.m., with pick-up available on Sunday, February 14 between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. To place an order, guests can purchase through the restaurant’s new online ordering system by visiting https://www.exploretock.com/blueducktavern/.