A week on Sunday sees the arrival of the day universally feared by single women and married men: the ordeal that is Valentine's Day. It pretty much passes me by; I like a night out as much as the next person (some might argue, uncharitably, that I like a night out MORE than the next person), but there is something faintly fraught about booking a table somewhere for Valentine's Day itself. Unpleasant memories of such outings (and I have many) largely revolve around being offered an uninspiring set menu at vastly over-inflated prices, surrounded by awkward-looking couples wondering what to say to each other (no kids! we must make the most of it! pressure!), and receiving a sad and slightly bent lone rose slowly suffocating to death in its plastic wrapping. In recent years, we have taken the safe option and stayed in the comfort of our own home.
This year, though, things look to be different. Restaurants are practically falling over each other in their haste to lure big-spending couples into their depths, offering good value menus with all sorts of nice freebies thrown in. As obviously you haven't got round to booking anywhere yet, here are a few suggestions:
- The ever-lovely Rhubarb on Burton Road in West Didsbury has an array of tempting sittings, starting with a champagne breakfast served between 10am and midday at £14.95. Full English AND champagne - hurrah. They're also offering a special lunch and dinner menu; the evening one is by far the more interesting, including baked oysters as a starter and fillet steak for main, and is available from 4pm, although they hike the price up (cads!) from £29.50 pp to £39.95 after 5.45.
- Anyone who has lost their mind slightly and thinks that Crazy Wendy's Thai Restaurant might be a suitable place for a quiet, romantic date can enjoy a two course meal for £20. The food is pretty good here, and I can often be found atop a table performing "Hey Big Spender", but I'm not sure it's the place for seduction. Anyway, call 0161 445 5200 if you're feeling particurly intrepid/foolhardy/khamikaze.
- Felicinis in Manchester, Didsbury and Wilmslow have a special menu full of dishes that sound positively brimming with aphrodisiac qualities - perhaps the asparagus and smoked salmon linguine for starters? Do try not to slurp or get sauce on your chin though. Full details at www.felicini.co.uk.
- If your other half is new/keen to impress/in trouble/trying to make something up to you, then push the boat out and go to Obsidian in central Manchester for the six course Valentine's dinner at £49.95 per person (although do bear in mind that they're counting granita as a course, and the cheese is a £7 supplement). The deal is available from 12th - 14th Feb and does include a glass of champagne on arrival, perhaps to soften the blow of the monstrous bill at the end.
Or you could pop to Sainsbury's, buy something nice and just stay at home - cheaper, more private, and no cab home to worry about....