Valentine’s dining: where to woo in 2021
Ah, Valentine’s Day. That special day when single people sigh and harried-looking blokes make hasty purchases of plastic-wrapped flowers from the local servo. But while it might seem like Valentine’s Day was created by a fluffy pink teddy bear holding an “I love you” heart, it’s actually been around for centuries. It was created by the Christian church to honour at least one martyr named Valentine (apparently there were maybe three?) and to “Christianise” the pagan fertility festival of Lupercalia, which was traditionally held in the middle of February… and allegedly got pretty racy.
A love story
The actual origins of Valentine’s Day being a day for lovers are a little blurry, but the legend we like best is about this Catholic priest named, yep, Valentine. He lived in Rome in the third century, and was sentenced to death by Emperor Claudius II after he was busted performing covert marriage ceremonies for Roman soldiers, who’d been forbidden by law to tie the knot. Apparently, while he was imprisoned, Valentine was visited by a young girl and they fell in love (aw). Before he was carted off to be executed, he sent her a note signed, “From your Valentine”. Sound familiar? Anyway, whether this is all true or not, it sure makes for a nice story. And if it is true, Hallmark owes that dude a bunch of royalties.
For all the loved-up couples out there who aren’t holed up in Roman prisons right now, Valentine’s Day is the perfect occasion to head out for a romantic meal with your partner. But where to go? To help our Sydney and Melbourne lovers, we’ve compiled a list of choice places where you can enjoy some quality wine, top-notch food and just the right atmosphere to pop the big question. If you’re feeling brave enough.
Aria will have sittings for lunch from 12pm (last sitting at 1:30pm) and dinner from 5:30pm. Dinner includes a six-course degustation for $275pp, with variations available on this for lunch. These include a four-course degustation for $225pp, a four-course degustation plus two glasses of Ruinart Brut Champagne for $285pp and a six-course degustation for $275pp. Beverage pairings are available at both sittings, with oysters, snacks and champagne offered throughout and a small bouquet of flowers upon departure.
Bentley Restaurant + Bar
Bentley Restaurant + Bar is offering a Valentine’s Day special menu of five courses in addition to snacks for $200pp. Optional wine ($100pp standard/$200pp premium), and for Febfasters there are non-alcoholic pairings for $75pp.
Chiswick has extended trading hours on Valentine’s Day, offering an exclusive set menu at lunch and dinner for $110pp. Both include a limited-edition raspberry chocolate macaron.
To help with the ultimate romantic V-Day picnic, Chiswick will also have Valentine’s Day picnic packages on offer. The luxury hampers ($150) are made to feed two and include wood-fired focaccia, Toolunka Creek olives, Chiswick crudites with white bean hummus, housemade ricotta, barra-massalata and crispy bits, stone fruit with nasturtium and snow peas, heirloom tomato with Berkshire prosciutto, rose Turkish delight and a rose from Hermetica. Moet & Chandon Rose is available for an additional cost.
Cirrus will be offering a share-style menu priced at $180pp and matching wines for an additional $80pp. The exclusive menu features raw yellowfin tuna with preserved lemon, nectarine and kombu.
CBD dining at its finest, Monopole has a Valentine’s Day shared menu for $120pp, with the option to add matching wines for $80pp.
North Bondi Fish
Whether it be a sun-soaked lunch or candlelit dinner overlooking the beach, North Bondi Fish is a great spot to wine and dine your significant other. It’s also perfect for those wanting a few cocktails with the gals for Galentine’s, with DJ Dolso spinning beats from 2-5pm.
NOMAD will be open for lunch with their regular à la carte menu then commencing dinner with an exclusive Valentine’s Day menu from 5:30pm. The Valentine’s Day set menu comes at $165pp, featuring fried okra with baharat spice, cannellini bean hummus and wood oven flatbread, wagyu bresaola, Vanella burrata with fennel jam and Clarence River baby octopus with harissa and lime. Guests will have an additional option to extend their menu with oysters, caviar and baklava petit fours.
The crème de la crème of vegetarian dining, Yellow has prepared a 5-course Valentine’s Day special with snacks to accompany for $140pp and the option to add matching wines for $80pp. The menu features two new dishes: purple daikon with green apple, and wild fennel and sweet corn with chilli and tomatillo.
Ria Pizza + Wine Bar
Sydney’s hottest new pizzeria is celebrating Valentine’s day with their full à la carte menu, available for lunch or dinner from 12pm. Ria has also just introduced takeaway, should you wish to grab a pizza and take it to your favourite spot for sunset.
Treat your special someone to Sailmaker Restaurant’s Signature Seafood Table. With fish delivered from Sydney’s iconic Fish Market, you’ll enjoy a delicious array of oysters, prawns, crab, octopus, salads and more. Accompanied by seasonal mains and sides and topped off with indulgent desserts, the price is $99pp. Optional beverage package are available to buy on the day for $26pp (includes Australian sparkling, white wines, red wines or lager).
Give the gift of flavour and adventure this Valentine’s Day and treat your loved one to Jackalberry Bar’s Traveller’s High Tea: three tiers of delectable high tea items from around the world, paired with Mr Black Cocktails – the perfect surprise for wannabe travellers and sweet treat lovers. $79pp, available from 2pm- 5pm.
O Bar and Dining is serving up three separate menu packages with canapes on arrival, an elegant drinks selection and handmade chocolates to conclude. The four-course menu includes foie gras parfait, flash seared scallops, glazed wagyu beef short rib and much more at $225pp. If you’d like a guaranteed window table to take in the spectacular views of Sydney Harbour, you can upgrade to a four-course menu with matching wines for $295pp (premium wines are also on offer for an additional $75pp).
For the most decadent dining experience, O is serving up the Cristal Experience, which includes a glass of 2012 Louis Roederer Cristal served on arrival followed by Oscietra caviar, confit ocean trout and nitro coconut and lime brûlée and much more for $650pp. This luxurious offer comprises of a five-course menu with premium matching wines alongside a dozen long-stem roses, handmade chocolates and a guaranteed window table.
Chancery Lane invites lovers to celebrate Valentine’s Day with a bespoke four-course menu by Scott Pickett and Head Chef Rob Kabboord for $150pp. Beginning with an indulgent seafood platter to share, guests will then enjoy heirloom tomato consommé, with a choice of Cape Grim rib of beef or John Dory with caviar beurre blancfor mains, plus sides. With chandeliers adorning the candlelit space, the romantic evening will end on a sweet note with white chocolate mousse.
Northside favourite Estelle is offering a special Valentine’s Day menu by Scott Pickett. With an option of four or five courses plus four different snacks, dishes include fior de burrata, kingfish, dry aged duck breast, porterhouse wagyu and a dessert. The price is$130pp for four courses, $160pp for five courses.
Matilda 159 Domain
Impress with a decadent Valentine’s Day menu at South Yarra’s Matilda, situated across from the picturesque Botanical Gardens. The $160pp menu features old favourites and exciting newcomers that celebrate Australian produce across four courses, three snacks and a selection of petit four. Guests can expect Merimbula oysters, kangaroo tartare, aged Milawa farm duck and Matilda’s famous dressed Fraser Island spanner crab.
For one night only, Melbourne’s Longrain is offering a Valentine’s Day set menu featuring nine signature dishes. The $120pp Thai-inspired feast will start with a Mango No. 5 cocktail or glass of Rob Dolan Blanc de Blanc on arrival before guests work their way through a hand-picked selection of Longrain favourites including oyster, finger lime ma kweng pepper; filled eggnet, prawn, pomelo, bean shoots; and duck, roasted shallot and banana bell.
Windsor’s grill-driven restaurant Firebird is turning up the heat with a set menu of classics available for lunch or dinner on February 14. Specials include Firebird’s signature grilled oysters, scotch quail egg, beef carpaccio, crudités, chargrilled squid, roasted duck, wood-fired roasted John Dory and Chinese broccoli. Guests can expect a fiery finish with a chilli chocolate tart. The price is $90pp for both lunch & dinner.
Celebrate Valentine’s Day at Windsor’s buzzing modern Japanese restaurant Tokyo Tina with a long lunch or romantic dinner for $90pp. Guests can depend on Tina to deliver her signature dishes including crab tostada, okonomiyaki, wagyu beef tataki and umeboshi glazed duck bao. Finish your session with Tina’s indulgent white chocolate mousse with mango curd and baked meringue.
Treat your taste buds to an unforgettable culinary experience at Pinchy’s with a nine-course degustation menu, priced at $85pp for Valentine’s Day only, including both seafood and vegan options. So will it be the snapper croquette or vegan leek croquette? Both are served with jalapeno salsa and wasabi mayo.
Daughter In Law
Daughter In Law’s Valentine’s Day menu ticks all the boxes, featuring a cocktail, a selection of street food, dishes from the tandoor, a thali plate and a sweet treat for $85pp. To drink, guests will be given a mango and thyme bellini or mocktail on arrival, with Daughter In Law’s full drinks menu available throughout the night. To eat, expect oysters, “balls of happiness” (gol gappa), Colonel Tso’s cauliflower, tandoori chicken and unauthentic butter chicken.
With velvet banquette seating, a roaming champagne trolley (hello!), and a six-course set menu, Melbourne CBD’s vibrant wine bar Mrs Singh is turning on the romance. Guests will start with a glass of sparkling wine before moving on to a menu of small plates to share. Exciting new dishes made bespoke for Valentine’s Day will sit confidently alongside some favourites from the small dish offerings. Dessert will provide the sweet finish, all for $90pp.
Mr Brownie Rooftop Hotel
Celebrate V-day sky-high with Mr Brownie. It’s offering a five-course feast for $74.50pp with matched drinks included on any of the four levels of Jessi Singh’s British Indian curry pub. Starting with oysters and Veuve Clicquot, the second course will see guests enjoy Colonel Tso’s cauliflower with Moet & Chandon before moving on to a gourmet chicken kebab with Blanc de Blanc. Next, choose either a vegetarian or meat thali with a glass of red or white, finishing with a frozen kulfi with Chandon Rose.
Inspired by the tale of star-crossed lovers, Tipico’s new cocktail Fair Verona is romance in a glass. It’s made with Golden Rum, fresh lime juice and a vibrant raspberry foam. Dinner menu specials include tempura oysters with Stracciatella cheese and homemade tagliolini with fermented chilli, King Mooloolaba prawns and mint pesto from $20pp.