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The trick to getting the best out of Charles Khabouth's chi-chi La Société (131 Bloor West, at Avenue Road, 416-551-9929, lasociete.ca) is to ignore the wall-to-wall botoxed celebutantes in the dining room and opt for an intimate table à deux in the gorgeous brasserie-style bar instead. We'll gladly pony up for the $65 Valentine's Day three-course prix fixe when it involves options of pressed pheasant with foie gras, lobster bouillabaisse and lemon tarts with crème anglaise. Cheaper than a weekend trip to Paris, too!
Lee gets Bent
Toronto's top chef, Susur Lee salutes the 14th at Bent (777 Dundas West, at Markham, 647-352-0092, bentrestaurant.com) with a $65-a-head tasting menu that kicks off with a "Bent-o" box of bites - sake oyster shots, miso-cured salmon gravlax on a buckwheat mini-blini, ambrosial foie gras pâté with ice-wine syrup among them - before moving on to mains like pan-roasted red snapper in raisin beurre blanc, spicy braised short ribs with truffled parsnip purée and a vegan coconut tofu stir-fry. The shareable spread wraps up with white chocolate mousse goosed with Gran Marnier and chocolate peanut butter bars. Oh, Susur!
Out of the Box
Check out Regent Park's impressive new Paintbox (555 Dundas East, at Sumach, 647-748-0555, paintboxbistro.ca) on V-Day, when $45 gets you executive chef Chris Klugman's five-course prix fixe. An amuse of oysters leads to something called "ducksuckers" and a health-conscious salad of butterflied shrimp, kale 'n' quinoa. Chateaubriand for two and molten chocolate cake call for an after-dinner nap.
Even vegetarians need a little love. And where better to get it than Café 668 (885 Dundas West, at Claremont, 416-703-0668, cafe668.com) from Thursday to Saturday (February 14 to 16), when $37.95 gets them an all-veggie four-course spread for two? That's no typo, cheapo. Café's signature cucumber and carrot salad dressed with cashews in Viet vinaigrette gets things rolling, while ketchup-free pad thai and cashew "chicken" provide the mains. Finish with deep-fried bananas in batter sauced with tapioca coconut cream.
Enjoy a prix fixe menu at bucolic Café Belong
Long to Belong
Hitch up the dogsled and head to the bucolic Brick Works on the 14th for eco-minded Café Belong's (550 Bayview, at Pottery, 416-901-8234, cafebelong.ca) $60 three-course prix-fixe. Executive chef Brad Long offers a choice of two starters (arugula and walnut salad or mixed greens with pecans), two mains (crispy-skinned steelhead trout vs pomegranate-brined pork tenderloin) and either a lemon tart brûlée or devil's food chocolate cake for dessert. Throw in three wine pairings for an additional 15 bucks. There's also a $90/$115 five-course alternative.
Photos by David Laurence
Camp it up
Megan Whiten's cute 'n' quirky Camp (244 Jane, at Horshaw, 647-346-2267) holds off celebrating The Day till Friday (February 15), when her five-course prix fixe goes for a ridiculously low $35. The amorous meal deal includes oysters on the half-shell, mixed greens with shaved pear, Cambozola cheese and figs in a Riesling dressing, and mushroom soup with coconut cream. Wine-braised lamb over creamy polenta and a "surprise" desert complete the picture. Looking for that special gift? Show up after 3 pm on Saturday (February 9) for a craft fair dedicated to cards, jewelry and chocolate treats.