Eric Town Square
120 Hebron Ave.
Glastonbury, CT 06033
For a mere $34.95 per person, Rooftop 120 in Glastonbury provides lovers with not only a delightful three-course meal but also a romantic view from, well, the rooftop. Although only three stories tall, the top of the building this restaurant occupies does offer a scenic view of the little town of Glastonbury. In addition, the wrap-around outdoor patio is open all year long, so weather permitting, patrons might take a short turn outside to take in the view of the town and the stars above.
Diners may wish to start with one of Rooftop 120’s special Valentine cocktails – like “Bad Romance” (a frozen gelato vodka milkshake) or the “I Dream of Chocolate” vodka and cream treat. The three-course prix fixe dinner offers three choices for starters – and one of those is a roasted beef and feta cheese Napoleon, arguably the kitchen’s signature dish. For the main course there is grilled Scottish salmon, crusted swordfish, grilled filet mignon and sautéed Murray’s chicken breast (with sweet potato puree). Chocolate molten cake heads the list of dessert choices, and while the eye might wander down that list, the tummy is sure to demand or at least vote twice for that first item. The full menu is also available during its four-day Valentine offer which starts February 11.
59 Main St.
Chester, CT 06412
With its seasonal menu, “French 75” Bistro and more formal “Upstairs” French farmhouse dining room, Restaurant L&E in Chester is a charming and romantic place to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Its $25-per-person prix fixe menu offers two choices each for appetizer, main course and dessert. Like its full “chef’s market menu,” those offerings are subject to change daily with the season and availability of local meat, fish and produce. Downstairs, there is also a Bistro menu with hamburgers and “pommes frites” (and every Wednesday is gourmet burger night) as well as “French flavors from around the globe” like coq au vin with Hedgehog mushrooms and Three Little Pigs or “Trois Petits Cochons” as they say at L&E.
Max’s Oyster Bar
964 Farmington Ave.
West Hartford, CT 06107
Oysters are renowned as aphrodisiacs, and Max’s Oyster Bar plays to that salty shellfish’s sexual legacy by offering oysters and lots of them in its pricey but stunning Valentine’s Day prix fixe extravaganza. Although $120 per couple ($160 with wine pairings) may be a bit high for some, the amount and quality of the food, the presentation and the atmosphere will make the oysters, clams, lobster and other delights all that much easier to swallow. For those who like a little turf with their surf, there is also braised lamb as a choice of entrée, and desserts include red velvet cake, gelato and chocolate budino (an Italian version of the classic lava cake, with lots of rich pudding).
93 Whitney Ave.
New Haven, CT 06510
Although it began as a humble cheese monger’s shop, on Valentine’s Day Caseus Fromagerie & Bistro is a haven not just for its regular clientele of cheese lovers but also for lovers in general. Almost every item on the sit-down menu includes cheese in one form or another (like the poutine with Vermont cheese curds and the duck salad with Roquefort), and of course there is Caseus’ own take on mac and cheese as well as a cheese board, which can either be an appetizer or, if combined with a charcuterie board, a delightful meal. The prix fixe offering on Valentine Day is subject to change with market availability, but last year the choices included pan-roasted Virginia striped bass, Painted Hills’ grass-fed beef or sweet potato gnocchi. For those choices last year, the price was $65 per person ($85 with wine or beer pairings).
2 E. Main St.
Branford, CT 06405
Valentine’s Day is for vegans, or such is the slogan in February at G-Zen, a very upscale vegan restaurant in the shoreline town of Branford. Famed for its “Buddah Brunch” and blog, G-Zen prides itself on its menu of “organic vegetarian sustainable cuisine,” and its presentation of such in an elegant atmosphere. While vegan and fine dining are two terms that are not often paired together in the minds of most diners, one visit to G-Zen, especially for Valentine’s Day, will change that. Five courses of raw or cooked vegan fare complete with wine, organic champagne or a sake cocktail for $75 per person, and all of it presented in loving and elegant style, will make Valentine’s Day special for any vegan, vegetarian or someone who just wants to experiment beyond traditional meat-based fare.
Mark G. McLaughlin is a professional and prolific writer with a proven publishing record in a wide variety of fields. An historian, novelist, freelance journalist, ghost-writer, book reviewer, magazine editor, web and magazine columnist, Mark has more than 30 years of experience. His work can be found at Examiner.com.