I’ve always enjoyed celebrating a romantic dinner at home for Valentine’s Day, but sometimes it’s nice to go out. Here are my top five restaurant picks for good food and a romantic atmosphere.
Country House Restaurant in Stony Brook — Owner Bob Willemstyn goes all out decorating this historic restaurant, circa 1710, with beautiful heart decorations and fresh flowers on every table. Dim lighting, fireplaces and live music featuring romantic classics make for a wonderful atmosphere as you peruse the unique menu where all the dishes are named after famous romantic couples. Choices include Marilyn and Joe, John and Yoko, Ralph and Alice and William and Catherine. Bob has even tried to match some of the dishes with the couples. For example, the George and Amal is an Italian Wedding Soup with mini meatballs and escarole, and the Kermit and Miss Piggy is a roast pork confit with Holland leeks, roasted tomatoes and red lentils. Before dinner sip on a romantic cocktail such as Ruby Red Slippers, Parma liquor and Absolut Ruby Red rimmed in a red sugar crystals. For the more daring why not try the X-rated Cosmo, the Marilyn Monroe martini or the Scarlett O’Hara? The food and service here are exceptional.
La Plage restaurant in Wading River — This cozy, beach-front restaurant is tucked away in Wading River far from the hustle and bustle of the North Fork. Chef and founder Wayne Wadington presents “eclectic, French-American cuisine” and is known for his fresh fish and seasonal menus. For Valentine’s Day a three-course prix fixe dinner is $85 per person. The wine list is extensive, and they will also be offering a specialty drink that night. The atmosphere at La Plage is beachy, elegant and romantic, and the food is superb. The New York Times has rated it “the most romantic restaurant on Long Island.” It’s definitely worth the trip.
Be-Ju Sashimi & Sake Bar inside Jewel Restaurant in Melville — If you’re looking for a sleek, sophisticated, Manhattan-like atmosphere, Be-Ju, owned by famous Long Island chef Tom Schaudel, is the place to be. Chefs Shigeki Yamamoto and Hiroki Tanii are at the top of their game when it comes to making sushi. It’s made from the freshest local and imported fish; and their technique and skill cannot get any higher. Their dishes truly look like a work of art. On Valentine’s Day, Be-Ju is offering what they call “Prix Fixe Passion,” a special multi-course dinner for $70 per person. A full dinner menu will also be available.
Harbor Mist in Cold Spring Harbor — Part of the historic Cold Spring Harbor district, Harbor Mist is an elegant two-story restaurant that offers spectacular, panoramic water views and delicious food. Request a candlelit table by the window and enjoy a full menu of New American cuisine, featuring fresh seafood and prime meats. Start off with Blue Point oysters on the half shell, followed by sesame crusted yellow fin tuna with ginger soy emulsion and shiitake salsa. In the mood for steak? You can’t go wrong with the 10-ounce, prime filet mignon with a nice glass of red wine. Try one of Harbor Mist’s signature dishes, like the pork chop Michele, a Berkshire pork chop served with sweet and hot cherry vinegar peppers and pan-fried sliced potatoes. They will also be offering a few specials on Valentine’s Day.
Oheka Castle in Cold Spring Hills — What could I possibly say? It doesn’t get any more romantic than enjoying Valentine’s dinner in a historic French chateau. Oheka will be offering a prix fixe four-course dinner for $150 per person, which includes a specialty drink and dessert. Reservations can be made for the elegant dining room or for the charming Charlie Chaplin room, depending on your mood. The service is excellent, and the staff will cater to your every need. If you’re fortunate enough, top off the evening with an overnight stay in one of the luxurious hotel rooms and enjoy a night cap at the bar.
This story was originally published in February 2015.