The year’s most romantic holiday can pose a dining conundrum. Do you crave the privacy of a discreet, low-key experience? Or do you prefer a scene in which you and your significant other can show off your pheromonal magic? No matter what your style, San Francisco has the right venue. Here are our top five choices for 2011:
448 Brannan St., San Francisco, 415.495.1111, www.alexanderssteakhouse.com
This South Bay hotspot, now with a branch in SoMa, is serving up a four-course prix-fixe menu that includes its legendary prime rib (among other choices), along with wine pairings for each course. The elegant meat palace occupies the romantic, brick-walled space that was once Bacar.
689 Mission St., San Francisco, 415.284.4040, www.amerestaurant.com
Chef Hiro Sone has put together a five-course truffle menu, offered from Feb. 8–15 at his intimate outpost in the St. Regis Hotel. Have a drink in the Lobby Bar before entering the serene, Japanese-influenced space.
Chez Papa Resto
4 Mint Plaza, San Francisco, 415.546.4134, www.chezpaparesto.com
A beautiful four-course dinner is in the offing at this sultry Provençal spot in burgeoning Mint Plaza. Try the Liberty duck breast with duck liver paté and green garlic cream or roasted local black cod with saffron-mussel cream. Either way, accompanying the list of southern Rhone wines will have found their match.
1015 Battery St., San Francisco, 415.391.2555, www.piperade.com
Chef Gerald Hirigoyen, best known for his lush Basque creations, will offer a three-course prix-fixe menu for Valentine’s Day. Choose among braised beef short ribs with star anise, striped bass with salsify and black truffle vinaigrette, or roasted chicken with parsnips. Every couple also receives — what else? — Champagne, a lovely half-bottle of Gosset.
Twenty Five Lusk
25 Lusk St., San Francisco, 415.495.5875, www.twentyfivelusk.com
SoMa’s latest star, Matthew Dolan, has crafted a fine-dining menu that’s both unpretentious and confident. The beauty of his food is in its utter simplicity. Two cases in point: seared diver scallops with cauliflower puree and roasted lobster mushrooms and papardelle with grilled Treviso, baby fennel and braised artichokes. Check the restaurant’s website for forthcoming details on his special Valentine’s Day menu.