The OpenTable Blog

Love Bites: Decadent Valentine’s Day Chocolate Desserts

It’s estimated that Americans buy a beyond impressive 58 million pounds of chocolates during Valentine’s Week. So when you go out for a romantic dinner to celebrate Cupid’s holiday, chances are your meal will end with a chocolate-y extravagance. Pastry chefs and chocolatiers spend months conceiving decadent desserts that highlight cocoa in a myriad of clever – and exceedingly delicious – ways. Here are 16 decadent chocolate desserts (including one that will set you back a cool grand!) that will melt your heart, blow your mind, and give your belly afterglow on Valentine’s Day or any day.

Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria, New York, New York
Here’s a heart-shaped boxed we’d like to be locked inside for weeks. Pastry chef Genevieve Meli forges a lid out of chocolate bark speckled with almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, and a galactic scattering of Maldon sea salt. It covers an assortment of beautiful bonbons sure to impress any date. Make a reservation at Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria.

Chocolate Desserts

Daniel, New York, New York
Should you share a French kiss at a restaurant? In this case, absolutely. Executive pastry chef Ghaya Oliveira created a pair of dark chocolate lips for you to share with your sweetie. One is filled with triple vanilla mousse, ruby red grapefruit jam, and rose water Turkish delight. The other boasts dark chocolate marshmallow, passion fruit caramel, and hazelnut praline. Make a reservation at Daniel.

Chocolate Desserts

Fire, Denver, Colorado
Goodness gracious, great ball at Fire! A globe formed with chocolate and orange mousses is doused with warm caramel to melt it into a craggy meteor of delicious proportions. We would instruct you to eat it quickly before it dissolves into a puddle of goodness, but we doubt this dessert will last three minutes after it arrives at your table. Make a reservation at Fire.

Chocolate Desserts

America Eats Tavern, McLean, Virginia
George was a lucky fella. Turns out Martha Washington made a killer chocolate cake. Buttermilk and coffee add fluffiness and a bit of acidity to the cake, which is interspersed with cocoa butter icing. The triple layer treat is covered in chocolate Chantilly. A big wedge of it with a bracing cup of locally roasted Compass Coffee and we’re in heaven. Make a reservation at America Eats Tavern.

Chocolate Desserts

Veranda, San Diego, California
There’s no flour in these chocolate cakes, but there is a whole lot of love. Pastry chef Margaret Carvallo molds dark chocolate ganache into Cupid-worthy hearts, which she enrobes with 70% chocolate glaze. Perfect for sharing with your sweetheart. Make a reservation at Veranda.

Chocolate Desserts

Max Brenner-Union Square, New York City
Here’s a pizza for sweet tooths. A crusty round is topped with melted milk and white chocolate chunks and two toppings, which can include crushed hazelnuts, banana rounds, peanut butter, or roasted marshmallows. And, yes, it’s absolutely acceptable to eat a cold slice of it for breakfast the next morning. Make a reservation at Max Brenner.

Chocolate Desserts

Aureole, New York, New York
Pastry chef Pierre Poulin took inspiration from classic love songs – including the Bangles’ “Eternal Flame,” Seal’s “Kiss From a Rose” and “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses – to create his “Chocolate Mixtape Collection.” The 12-piece set showcases flavors that range from the enervating (coffee) and passionate (lychee-rose petal) to the purely decadent (foie gras). Consider it the edible soundtrack to your satisfaction. Make a reservation at Aureole.

Chocolate Desserts

Arnaud’s, New Orleans, Louisiana
This dessert is the bomb. A chocolate toffee bomb, to be exact. Its cookie-crisp base is topped with English toffee-chocolate mousse and a rich ganache. Goes down well with a flaming Café Brûlot perked up with brandy and Curaçao. Make a reservation at Arnaud’s.

Chocolate Desserts

RPM Steak, Chicago, Illinois
Spangled with 14 karat gold flakes, this chocolate cake sports some serious bling. Dig in and you’ll find both milk and dark chocolate beneath the chocolate coating. Think of it as a candy bar for the 1%. Make a reservation at RPM Steak.

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10 Tips for a Delicious Valentine’s Day

We’re celebrating #29ReasonstoLoveFebruary all month long — and there are so very many already, thanks to Valentine’s Day! We’ve named the 100 Most Romantic Restaurants in America and the 25 Most Romantic Cities in America. Plus, we’re running a super-easy-to-enter #savorthelove Valentine’s Day giveaway in which you could win dinner for two. But we’re not stopping there. To make sure you have the best weekend  yet, we’ve gathered 10 tips for a delicious Valentine’s Day. Read on to set yourself up for success.

Tips for a Delicious Valentine's Day

1. It’s not too late to find the perfect table. If you’ve just remembered Valentine’s Day is less than a week away, don’t fret. OpenTable has got you covered. Did you know that almost half of all Valentine’s Day reservations are made in the week leading up to February 14? In other words, there’s still time to snag a terrific table at a top restaurant.

2. Use the notes/special requests field when booking – and be specific. Too often diners write, “I’d love a great table,” but they don’t go into detail about what “great” means to them. Is it a booth? A dimly lit table off to a corner? Name some particulars to score a table that suits your tastes.

3. Talk through extra-special special requests with a manager. If you have elaborate special requests that go above and beyond what most restaurants typically offer (say, asking that rose petals be scattered on the table or having a particular bottle of Champagne or type of flower awaiting your date), stop by the restaurant or call and speak with a manager to inquire if your request is feasible.

4. Celebrate all weekend long. Happily, Valentine’s Day falls smack in the middle of President’s Day weekend, giving diners opportunities to celebrate on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. In fact, in a recent OpenTable survey, more than 30% of respondents indicated that they were planning on dining out on Saturday, February 13. So pick the day that is best for your schedule.

5. Brunch with bubbles! If you don’t have off on President’s Day, and you’re worried about staying out late on the school night that is Sunday, consider brunch with bubbles on Saturday or Sunday, which gives you plenty of time to recover before Monday morning. Also, be on the lookout for special Valentine’s Day/President’s Day brunches at restaurants near you.

6. No date? No problem. There are Valentine’s Day specials for singles happening on the 13th and the 14th. For example, I|O at the Godfrey in Chicago will be hosting Valentine’s Nightcap on the 13th, a party for singles and those with “it’s complicated” relationship descriptions. Similarly, the J. Parker is hosting a Sadie Hawkins 90’s dance party on the same night.Continue Reading

No Date, No Problem: 11 Valentine’s Day Celebrations for Singles

Singles know it all too well. Come February, and everywhere you look you see hearts — even the clouds appear heart-shaped. But, bless your hearts, that doesn’t keep you from participating in Valentine’s Day fun. In fact, according to a recent survey by OpenTable, many singles (42%) across the country are looking forward to dining out in celebration of Valentine’s Day this year, and one in three  (35%) plan to dine with multiple platonic friends or family members. If you’re looking for something a little more tailored to your status, however, we’ve found 11 Valentine’s Day celebrations for singles that you’re sure to heart, many with fun, tongue-in-cheek menus and cocktails — and even anti-Valentine’s Day music and activities. And, since VD falls on a Sunday this year, expect lots of Galentine brunch deals, too.

Carmine’s, Las Vegas, Nevada
Eat your heart out. Carmine’s Italian Restaurant at The Forum Shops at Caesars is featuring a “Girl’s Gone Garlic” meal — a full-course fixe menu that includes items like Carmine’s Caesar Salad, Penne all Vodka, a gigantic Titanic Sundae, and a bottle of Prosecco for $125. Or, order the “My Heart Will Not Go On” meal that’s all about that humongous Titanic Sundae and a bottle of Prosecco for $65. Book a table at Carmine’s.

Valentine's Day Celebrations for Singles

Izzy’s Fish & Oyster, Miami Beach, Florida
This South Beach heartthrob invites singles and their friends to “Shuck Valentine’s Day” with an “interactive bar experience that allows singles to engage both the bartenders and oyster bar shuckers.” The way it works: Grab a single friend and you’ll get a bottle of Perrier-Jouet Grand Brut, ½ dozen Island Creek Oysters, choice of warm or cold lobster roll, and a slice of Grandma Celia’s Lemon Meringue Pie for $75 per duo. Awww, shucks! Book a table at Izzy’s Fish & Oyster.

Valentine's Day Celebrations for Singles

I|O Godfrey Lounge, Chicago, Illinois
Slip into I|O — atop the Godfrey Hotel — for a Valentine’s Nightcap singles party on February 13. You’ll get a glass of Champagne and, if all else fails, you can always surrender your love to the sweet dessert and candy bar. If you meet Mr. or Ms. Wonderful, you’ll want to book a booth — which comes with a bottle of bubbly to share. Or, cuddle up in the lounge’s insulated clear-dome igloo where you’ll admire city views and nibble on yum yums. Things getting interesting? Get a room. Book a table at the I|O Godfrey Lounge.

Valentine's Day Celebrations for Singles

Pistache French Bistro, West Palm Beach, Florida
Pucker up! This modern French bistro will feature a kissing booth — for French kissing, of course. There will also be aphrodisiac-inspired cocktails, such as the sexy signature Blood Orange Martini, and a three-course VD brunch option — think roasted duck and waffles (poached egg, spicy grain mustard, maple syrup) and Crepes Suzette (caramelized orange butter sauce flambé in liqueur Bauchant, vanilla ice cream). A three-course Galentine dinner menu will include Salmon Tartare (smoked and fresh salmon, cilantro-avocado mousse, grapefruit-ginger oil, pickled shitake, lemon aioli, and brioche croutons), Moules Frites Mariniere (Prince Edward Island mussels steamed in white wine-garlic-shallot broth and served with pommes frites), Filet au Poivre (pepper-crusted beef tenderloin with a black pepper brandy sauce), and a chocolate and raspberry gateau (dark chocolate ganache, raspberry coulis, and vanilla cream). Book a table at Pistache French Bistro.

Valentine's Day Celebrations for Singles

Asbury Festhalle & Biergarten, Asbury Park, New Jersey
It’s all about the communal tables at this authentic biergarten—so you won’t be subject to PDA from the couple in the table-for-two in the corner of the room. The VD theme here? “Is Love in the Cards for You?” The way it works: When you arrive, you’ll be given half a playing card and if you find the person with the other half of the card, you’ll bring it to the bar for a complimentary beer (Let’s hope your match isn’t wearing lederhosen!). The menu is classic Austro-Hungarian biergarten food — Organic Chicken Paprikash (paprika-braised chicken, lemon, egg noodles, parsley, and sour cream), Weisswurst (veal and pork belly sausage seasoned with parsley, garlic, and lemon), and Apfelstrudel with caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream. Book a table at Asbury Festhalle & Biergarten.

Valentine's Day Celebrations for Singles

South Water Kitchen, Chicago, Illinois
Drown your sorrows with head bartender Dan Rook’s #SingleforLife cocktail. It’s a riff on the regular cocktail menu’s Cocoa Flip with two ounces of Larressingle VSOP Armagnac, ½ ounce Tempus Fugit Crème de Cocoa, ½ ounce Cynar, ½ ounce, ½ ounce cinnamon syrup, and egg white, and it’s garnished with Peychaud’s Bitters in the shape of a heart. A real heartbreaker. Book a table at South Water Kitchen.

Valentine's Day Celebrations for Singles

Area Four Restaurant, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Grab some grumpy single friends — or go alone — and get silly with chef Jeff Pond “Hater’s Valentine’s Day” menu of spicy pizza with arrabbiata “angry” sauce, skewered chicken hearts, and gingerbread-people style cookies that you can decorate as voodoo dolls. Ready for your check? It’ll come with hate hearts — you know, those sweet, heart-shaped candies, except these are stamped with less-than-lovely messages. Bonus: Sad flicks will be shown on the bar’s TVs. Book a table at Area Four Restaurant.

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Lively Up Yourself: 9 Legend-ary Jamaican + Ethiopian Dishes for Bob Marley Day 2016

February 6th marks what would have been Bob Marley’s 71st birthday. Born in Jamaica, the reggae icon considered Ethiopia his spiritual home. To celebrate the two rich veins of his heritage, we are highlighting nine outstanding dishes from the Caribbean island and the eastern African nation. These history-rich foods embody and showcase the culinary traditions of each region. Guaranteed to satisfy your soul on Bob Marley Day 2016 – and guaranteed to be one of your #29ReasonstoLoveFebruary!

Mr. Brown’s Lounge, Chicago, Illinois
Skewered shrimp are marinated in a ‘catch a fire’ jerk sauce made with plenty of Scotch Bonnet peppers that ain’t for the faint of heart. Luckily, the sweet, soothing mango salsa keeps things cool. If that’s not enough, we recommend a tart Ting grapefruit soda or a guava milkshake to quench the flames dancing across your tongue. A side of fried plantains or coconut milk-enriched rice ‘n’ peas will also help. Make a reservation at Mr. Brown’s Lounge.

Bob Marley Day 2016

Das Ethiopian Cuisine, Washington, D.C.
Can’t make up your mind on what to order? The vegetarian entrée sampler is a good way to go. Featuring eggplant and carrot wat stew, miser wat (red lentil stew with traditional Ethiopian Berbere pepper spice), and tikil gomen (ginger and garlic amped cabbage, potatoes, and carrots) and more, its served on a bed of spongy injera bread that’s meant to be used as a utensil — and then promptly eaten. Make a reservation at Das Ethiopian Cuisine.

Bob Marley Day 2016

Taste of the Caribbean, Seattle, Washington
Meet your new favorite appetizer. Salted codfish, onions, peppers, and West Indian spices are balled up, battered, and deep-fried. Zigzagged with hot sauce and speckled with scallions, we bet you can’t eat just one of these tasteful takes on the Caribbean classic. Make a reservation at Taste of the Caribbean.

Bob Marley Day 2016

Ethiopian Diamond, Chicago, Illinois
Think of tibs as an Ethiopian stir-fry. To create tibs quosta, spinach is sautéed with garlic and onions, and then mixed with juicy chicken chunks and green peppers. Of course, it’s served with plenty of injera bread, so you can fold up the components together fajita-style. Make a reservation at Ethiopian Diamond.

Bob Marley Day 2016

Ja’ Grill, Chicago, Illinois
Chef Errol Gallimore, a Jamaican transplant, cooks his home-style oxtail in an aromatic brown sauce until the meat is falling off the bone. The rich stew is fortified with butter beans, carrots, potatoes, onions, and several varieties of pepper and is complemented with spicy rice and fried plantains. Goes well with an ice-cold Red Stripe beer. Or three. Make a reservation at Ja’ Grill.

Bob Marley Day 2016

Lucy Ethiopian Restaurant & Lounge, Houston
If Ethiopia has a national chicken dish, it just might be doro wat. In this rendition, a bone-in drumstick and thigh are slow-simmered in a spicy slurry, not unlike a thick barbecue sauce, and accompanied by a hard-boiled egg. We’re fond of mashing all the components together to create a barbecued chicken ‘n’ egg salad, which we roll up in torn off pieces of injera. Make a reservation at Lucy Ethiopian Restaurant & Lounge.

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