Like many top restaurants, this French charmer is booked on Valentine’s Day. But who says that Feb. 14 is the be-all/end-all day for romance? Here’s a suggestion: Do the cooking on Valentine’s Day, then give your beloved the gift of an evening of adventurous, meticulous cooking from chefs Jamie Malone, Alan Hlebaen and Britt St. Clair. Don’t miss the three-year-old Mangalitsa ham, the glorious tarte flambé, the omelet with black truffles, the gorgeous pike quenelle or the kitchen’s signature, a foie gras custard served in an eggshell. The wine list? Exceptional. Dinner Tuesday through Sunday.
3804 Grand Av. S., Mpls., 612-822-8260, grandcafemn.com
Reservations are filling fast for Feb. 14, so either act quickly or consider celebrating Valentine’s Day on a different day. Chef Jim Christiansen’s modernist cooking makes the latter plan totally worthwhile. His exciting menu can be approached from two directions: Order a la carte, or immerse yourself in a four-course ($64) tasting menu, with four choices in each course (there’s a $44 beverage pairing option, highly recommended). Consider a Tuesday visit, when the bar sells bottles of Champagne at cost, pairing that deal with $2 oysters from first-rate Island Creek in Duxbury, Mass. Dinner daily.
2700 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls., 612-200-9369, heydayeats.com
With few V-Day bookings remaining, here’s a suggestion: Order a three-course, heat-and-serve meal ($45/person) at nearby Surdyk’s Cheese Shop (303 E. Hennepin Av., Mpls., 612-379-9757, surdyks.com) for the Big Day, then celebrate on another night at this lovely newcomer. Chef Remy Pettus has a way with seafood (the boquerone tartine and scallop in yuzu are both must-order dishes), and prepares what might be the city’s best gnocchi. Another plus? He thoughtfully offers most of his entrees in two sizes/prices. For dessert, it’s the pineapple tart, all the way. Dinner Wednesday through Monday.
222 E. Hennepin Av., Mpls., 612-886-8404, bardompls.com