FROM A LOCAL WINERY’S pairing dinner to a sparkling-wine tasting – not to mention signature Valentine’s Day multi-course dinners at local restaurants – the options for celebrating with friends or your sweetie over a fancy meal are endless. And if Tuesday night doesn’t appeal, know that several restaurants will start serving their Valentine’s Day menu the weekend prior. Just be sure to make reservations soon as many of these restaurants expect to sell out in advance.
1. Lupi & Iris
777 N. VAN BUREN ST.
Lupi & Iris’ three-course Valentine’s Day prix-fixe menu is available Feb. 10-14. What this restaurant is doing differently is placing fresh flowers and decadent chocolates on your table when you arrive, for an additional fee. While the entire menu is published online, some savory highlights are grilled Spanish octopus, branzino, boeuf braise and mushroom-and-black-truffle risotto, followed by sweets such as raspberry-chocolate tart of olive-oil cake, for a veritable trip to the Mediterranean. $75 per person (wine or cocktail pairings extra). Make your reservation here.
2. Pasta Tree Restaurant & Wine Bar
1503 N. FARWELL AVE.
The East Side’s Pasta Tree Restaurant & Wine Bar is romantic any night of the week but especially on Valentine’s Day (a special menu served Feb. 11-14). $20 deposit needed. Reserve a table through this link. Or, if staying in sounds more appealing, a take-and-bake meal kit for two ($200) that includes everything from chocolate raspberry martinis to the restaurant’s famed tiramisu, also folding in pancetta-wrapped beef tenderloin and lobster ravioli or cannelloni, plus a salad. Coffee and biscotti is even included. Reserve yours here by Feb. 8 and pick up Feb. 10-14.
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3. Old Town Serbian Gourmet Restaurant
522 W. LINCOLN AVE.
On Feb. 10-12, 14 and 17-19, try the Valentine’s Day menu at one of Milwaukee’s most renowned Old World eateries: Old Town Serbian Gourmet Restaurant, in business since 1971. The dining experience begins with Champagne and roses, plus white chocolate martinis, followed by heart-shaped bureks and lobster phyllo pies. Dessert means strawberry schaum torte and chocolate merigne brownie cake. This is an a-la-carte menu so costs vary.
1547 N. JACKSON ST.
Sanford’s Valentine’s Day menu on Feb. 14 features a four-course menu with some flexibility in each. In other words, this is not a set chef’s-tasting menu. For three of the four courses, you have options, with what’s called a “beautiful soup” crafted for the second course. Beverage pairings carry an additional fee. Reservations strongly encouraged through this link. $115 per person.
5. Saint Kate – The Arts Hotel
139 E. KILBOURN AVE.
Dine in the literal dark at The Dark Room inside Saint Kate – The Arts Hotel where Love in the Dark takes place on Feb. 10, 11 and 14. Four courses (sea bass crudo; diver scallop and bacon; choice of cask-smoked prime ribeye cap or broiled Maine lobster tail; and salted chocolate caramel tart) will be served, plus drink pairings ranging from wine to cocktails, in this intimate, artsy environment. $200 per person. Reservations required through this link. The hotel is also hosting The Muse’s Palette on Feb. 11 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in which Artist in Residence Jeff Zimpel will lead couples through a taste-testing exercise involving wine, chocolate and coffee that’s later transformed into art materials. Included in the $50 per person cost is a take-home composition. Reservations required through this link.
6. Shaker’s Cigar Bar
422 S. 2ND ST.
Shaker’s Cigar Bar is keeping its speakeasy vintage theme while still offering something new and different on Valentine’s Day. Cocktails are at 6 p.m. followed by the meal at 7 p.m. A four-course “Blindfold + Bubbles Dinner” is a sensual experience designed for couples. A prix-fixe meal is served – and eaten – while blindfolded. $200 per couple.
1751 N. FARWELL AVE.
On Ardent’s 12-course tasting menus are such delicacies that are currently under wraps, but knowing chef-owner Justin Carlisle is orchestrating it all means no worries. Each meal includes a sparkling-wine toast. Seatings are on Feb. 14 at 5 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Reservations required through this link. $195 per person (additional $150 for beverage pairings and definitely worth the splurge as they feature wine and cocktails on most menus).
8. Lowlands Group
Each of the four culinary concepts in the Lowlands Group – Café Hollander, Centraal Grand Café & Tappery, Café Benelux and Buckatabon Tavern & Supper Club – is featuring new romantic-inspired dishes from Feb. 11-14. For example, lobster ravioli al forno at Buckatabon Tavern & Supper Club and clams casino pasta at Centraal Grand Café & Tappery. Slices of s’mores cream pie will be served at all. Bonus: be one of the first 50 diners on Feb. 14 and you’ll be rewarded with a rose and pint of beer they’re dubbing Love Beer (a wheat-beer collab between Schneider Weisse and LaBrasse Banda, a Bavarian band).
9. Spirits of Norway Vineyard
22200 W. 6 MILE RD., FRANKSVILLE
Head South to Waterford, where Spirits of Norway Vineyard is hosting a five-course, wine-paired dinner (featuring their wines, naturally) on Feb. 14 at Tichigan Lake Lions Club Civic Center. Farm-to-table fare is the focus, beginning with roasted-grape and pistachio salad and winding down on blood orange panna cotta with Port wine cream, featuring red-wine braised beef along with breaded and stuffed chicken breast with Chardonnay cream in between. Doors open at 6 p.m. with dinner at 6:30 p.m. Reservations required through this link. $85 per person.
10. The Village Cheese Shop
1430 UNDERWOOD AVE., WAUWATOSA
The Village Cheese Shop in Tosa’s village invites wine and cheese lovers to its “Valentines Night Out: Sparkling Wines & Raclette” on Feb. 15 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Eight sparkling wines will be poured at this walk-around tasting, served alongside a raclette dish (raclette is a Swiss cheese melted on top) featuring potatoes, speck and cornichon. Reserve your spot via this link. $40 per person. Another option is the Valentine’s Day cheese and charcuterie board ($65) available on Feb. 14 to enjoy either in the shop or to go.
11. Original Cream Puffs
8200 W. GREENFIELD AVE., WEST ALLIS
Is there anything sweeter than a cream puff? Original Cream Puffs is offering curb-side pick-up at Wisconsin State Fair Park’s Gate 5 for two special flavors of cream puffs – strawberry cream and cocoa cream – Feb. 11-14. Hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Feb. 11 and 14, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 12 and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Feb. 13. These are sold in single-flavor packs only, either a three-pack ($14) or six-pack ($25). Pre-order through this link.
N56W16300 SILVER SPRING DR., MENOMONEE FALLS
Pairing live music with dinner, caterer Davians has teamed up with Menomonee Falls Symphony Orchestra for a Valentine’s Dinner/Concert on Feb. 11. Dinner’s at 6:30 p.m., followed by the concert at 7:30 p.m. This is a hearty dinner, with seven different dishes (such as salmon with tarragon cream sauce and red-wine braised sirloin of beef) along with strawberry shortcake for dessert, and rolls and butter. Reserve your seat through this link. $65 per person.
13. The Bartolotta Restaurants
Each of The Bartolotta Restaurants’ eateries is celebrating Valentine’s Day with special menus. At Bacchus, the three-course Valentine’s Weekend Menu ($100 per person plus $65 for wine pairings, Feb. 10, 11, 13 and 14) is all about the cheese, with Hook’s five-year cheddar anchoring the baked lobster mac and cheese (just one of the menu items) while Harbor House sticks with seafood on the Valentine’s Day menu, featuring baked oysters, caviar and seared sea scallops ($125 per person plus $55 for wine pairings). Dig into the supper-club vibe with Valentine’s specials, such as a dessert trio or short-rib pot pie, at Joey Gerard’s on Feb. 14. Or opt for Italian at Ristorante Bartolotta dal 1993’s four-course Un Viaggio in Umbria menu ($75 per person) Feb. 13 and 14. Bartolotta’s Lake Park Bistro’s four-course Valentine’s Weekend menu ($95 per person) allows you to choose for each course on Feb. 10, 11, 13 and 14. Then, at both Mr. B’s locations in Brookfield (Feb. 10, 11, 13 and 14) and Mequon (Feb. 11-14), Valentine’s Day specials range from a Surf and Turf For Two (Brookfield) to an 8-ounce Australian Wagyu filet (Mequon). Reservations strongly encouraged.
14. IL MITO Café’s
6913 W. NORTH AVE., WAUWATOSA
IL MITO Café’s Delafield location is hosting a four-course dinner on Feb. 11 at 7 p.m. (doors open at 6:30 p.m.) paired with wines from around the world. It’s worth noting that matched with a lemon-scented meatball with grilled lobster polenta is Michael Feker’s private-label Venetian blend. For gluten-free diners, great news: the meal is already gluten-free. $109.95 per person with a $55.95 per person deposit required.
15. SALA – Moder
2613 E. HAMPSHIRE ST.
Jet off to the UWM neighborhood for a taste of Sicily at SALA – Modern Sicilian Dining with seven Valentine’s Day menu additions (from burrata and prawns to tenderloin and lamb rack), launching on Feb. 10-11 and Feb. 14-18. Reservations strongly encouraged through this link and a $10 deposit per person required.