It’s Not Too Late to Have a Happy Valentine’s Day With OpenTable

Last Minute Valentines Day Its Not Too Late to Have a Happy Valentines Day With OpenTableValentine’s Day is tomorrow. That’s right, procrastinators — it’s just a day away! There’s no need to panic, though. OpenTable can help you be a hero and save the day, even at the very last minute. To wit, there is availability on OpenTable.com for two people at 7PM on Valentine’s Day at more than 50% of restaurants in most major cities, including Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. Tables, however, are getting snapped up at a rate of two reservations per second, so book soon!

When booking last minute or day of for Valentine’s Day, use these tips to find a table that’s right for you.

* Be adventurous. Try a new restaurant or a new cuisine. Dine out in a different neighborhood. This is a great time to stretch your culinary wings and bond with your date over daring dishes.

* Use OpenTable’s rating and reviews to help you feel a bit more brave. You may not be familiar with every restaurant that has availability, so utilize OpenTable’s restaurant ratings and reviews to make an informed decision. Unlike other review sites, OpenTable only allows diners to review a restaurant after we’ve confirmed that they’ve actually dined there.

* Dine out at a different time. Snag a 5:30PM reservation and then go see a romantic movie. Or, meet friends first for drinks and have a late supper at a hot spot.

* Book a Valentine’s Day brunch. So many restaurants are offering amazing brunch menus at very affordable prices. Also, brunch is a fantastic excuse to start the day with a Champagne toast.

* Mingle over mixology. If you’re feeling anti-Valentine’s Day, look for a restaurant that is serving their regular menu. Odds are that you won’t be confronted with pink hearts and red roses. Better yet, hit up a restaurant that has a vibrant bar scene. You could end up meeting a Valentine. If drinks turn into dinner, whip out your smartphone and use one of our mobile apps to find a table on the fly.

Valentine’s Day Twitter Limo Giveaway: Friday’s Giveaway Tweet of the Day

On Monday, we started giving away one limo a day, courtesy of Limos.com, and the contest runs through today until 11:59PM PST. To enter to win, just follow @OpenTable on Twitter and tweet back your response to our giveaway tweet of the day. A winner will be chosen at random at the end of each day and announced the next day over Twitter. We’ll announce the winner of Thursday’s contest later today.

Today’s tweet of the day is…

Tweet your fave romantic city + #otvdaylimo to win today’s Valentine’s Day limo giveaway

Not to be a traitor to New York, but I do believe Paris has it all sewn up, so my entry tweet would look like this:

Paris + #otvdaylimo

Predictable, I know. But maybe OpenTable diners are more creative than I am. We want to hear about some off-the-beaten path places that make your feel all sorts of mushy inside!

Read more about giveaway rules and regulations here. Good luck!

Valentine’s Day Twitter Limo Giveaway: Thursday’s Giveaway Tweet of the Day

On Monday, we started giving away one limo a day, courtesy of Limos.com, and the contest runs through Friday, February 12, 2010. To enter to win, just follow @OpenTable on Twitter and tweet back your response to our giveaway tweet of the day. A winner will be chosen at random at the end of each day and announced the next day over Twitter. Wednesday’s winner was CLT_Fitness, and this tweep and her date and/or her friends will be riding in style.

Today’s tweet of the day is…

Tweet your fave romantic film + #otvdaylimo to win today’s Valentine’s Day limo giveaway

It’s hard to narrow it down if you love movies, but, since I have to pick, my favorite romantic film is Sixteen Candles (Jake!), so my entry tweet would look like this:

Sixteen Candles + #otvdaylimo

Read more about giveaway rules and regulations here, and stay tuned the start of Friday’s contest!

Valentine’s Day Twitter Limo Giveaway: Wednesday’s Giveaway Tweet of the Day

On Monday, we started giving away one limo a day, courtesy of Limos.com, and the contest runs through Friday, February 12, 2010. To enter to win, just follow @OpenTable on Twitter and tweet back your response to our giveaway tweet of the day. A winner will be chosen at random at the end of each day and announced the next day over Twitter. Monday’s winner was snoble05, and this tweep and her date will be riding in style.

Today’s tweet of the day is…

Tweet your fave Valentine’s Day food + #otvdaylimo to win today’s limo giveaway: http://bit.ly/9Eo4U5

My favorite food to eat on Valentine’s Day (and any day, really!) is oysters so my response (if I were eligible, and, sadly, I’m still not) would look like this:

Oysters + #otvdaylimo

Read more about giveaway rules and regulations here, and stay tuned as we announce Tuesday’s winner later today. Good luck!

Thrillist’s Ways to C.Y.A.: Last-Minute Tips for Men on Valentine’s Day

Thrillists Ways to CYA Thrillists Ways to C.Y.A.: Last Minute Tips for Men on Valentines DayLast year, many diners booked their Valentine’s Day reservations on OpenTable in the week leading up to the big day. And the guys over at Thrillist wouldn’t be surprised if most of those last-minute bookers were men. According to Ben Robinson, senior editor of the site that specializes in uncovering the best of your city’s food, drinks, gear, services, entertainment, travel options, and events, “Unlike women, men are inherently lazy, negligent, and terrified to think they know who they’ll be buying a lobster dinner for three weeks from now; naturally, they assume all other men are just like this as well.” But, says Robinson, “There are always some guys who brazenly break ranks and actually book Valentine’s Day reservations before 5:00pm on the 14th, but the rest of the men need help, and OpenTable’s there to rescue them.”

While OpenTable can help rescue dinner, we can’t take care of every aspect of a creating a successful Valentine’s Day for you and your girl. Fortunately, Robinson, who has been with Thrillist for three years, is sharing his “Valentine’s Day You-Know-What Savers” for every man without a plan.

1. Tailored Music. Robinson raves, “This service is incredible! They actually create a custom love song for your lady that’s totally personalized for her and even comes in a special CD package with the lyrics. The only way you could ruin this one is by trying to sing it yourself.”

2. Chocolate Nation’s Chocolate Concierge. He recommends these chocolates with a personal touch, saying “These guys take info on your special woman, such as hobbies and culinary likes and dislikes, and turn that into a bespoke box of chocolates pulled together from some of the finest chocolatiers in the country, who even make specialty chocolates if your girl is kosher, vegan, or just really committed to fair trade.”

3. The Ultimate Rose. Robinson recommends saying it with flowers — really, really big flowers! He advises guys, “These cartoonishly oversized roses range from three to six feet long, meaning they make up for all the times you forgot to get her flowers. Actually, that’s not true at all.”

4. Call Me Casanova. “Casanova never lets you forget another must-gift day. Just pre-set what you want to send to your main squeeze, from flowers to jewelry, when you want them to send it, and they take care of the remembering. You can also have them send pre-penned love notes stuffed in bottles — you just have to pray she’s forgotten your handwriting,” he adds.

Valentine’s Day Twitter Limo Giveaway: Tuesday’s Giveaway Tweet of the Day

Yesterday, we started giving away one limo a day, courtesy of Limos.com, and the contest runs through Friday, February 12, 2010. To enter to win, just follow @OpenTable on Twitter and tweet back your response to our giveaway tweet of the day. A winner will be chosen at random at the end of each day and announced the next day over Twitter.

Today’s tweet of the day is…

Tweet your Valentine’s Day celeb dream date + #otvdaylimo to win today’s limo giveaway: http://bit.ly/9Eo4U5

I’d like to dine with Roger Federer (not more than my husband, though. No, really. Well…maybe. Sorry, honey!) so my response (if I were eligible, and I’m still not) would look like this:

Roger Federer + #otvdaylimo

Read more about giveaway rules and regulations here, and stay tuned as we announce Monday’s winner later today. Good luck!

Valentine’s Day Twitter Limo Giveaway: Giveaway Tweet of the Day

As you know, we’re giving away one limo a day, today through Friday, February 12, 2010, courtesy of Limos.com. To enter to win, just follow @OpenTable on Twitter and tweet back your response to our giveaway tweet of the day. A winner will be chosen at random at the end of each day and announced the next morning over Twitter.

Today’s tweet of the day is…

Tweet your #valentinesday #restaurant + @opentable + #otvdaylimo to win today’s limo giveaway! http://bit.ly/9Eo4U5

I’m dining at SHO Shaun Hergatt, so my response (if I were eligible, and I’m not…sniff!) would look like this:

SHO Shaun Hergatt @OpenTable #otvdaylimo

You can read more about giveaway rules and regulations here. Good luck!

Dining Out on Valentine’s Day Is Twice as Nice in 2010, Survey Says

Dining out on Valentines Day 2010 Dining Out on Valentines Day Is Twice as Nice in 2010, Survey SaysOpenTable diners are enjoying twice as many dining options for Valentine’s Day this year, thanks to February 14 falling on a Sunday. According to a recent online survey of nearly 1,000 diners, just as many people are choosing to eat out on Saturday, February 13, in honor of Valentine’s Day as are dining out on the actual holiday. This doubles your odds of dining out at the restaurant of your choice. And, if you factor in Friday night or doing brunch on Sunday at a hotspot…well, you can do math!

In terms of who’s dining with whom, the survey revealed that more than 63% of respondents will be dining out with a partner during this romantic weekend. In good news for foodies who aren’t picking up the tab, 85% expect to spend at least as much as they did in 2009. Multi-course menus, here we come!

We also learned that while Paris may be the city of lights and love, 33% of Valentine’s diners are seeking out Italian cuisine most of all this year — though French cuisine is a close second at 29%.

The factors that contributed to a really romantic dining experience included a private table (28%), exceptional service (16%), and a beautiful view (13%). Most respondents didn’t care about candlelight (5%) or soft music (2%), calling into question two longtime courtship clichés.

Do any of these statistics shock or surprise you? Let us know here or over on Facebook.

And, don’t forget to follow us on Twitter to win one of five Valentine’s Day limo giveaways.

Top Vancouver Restaurants for Medal-Worthy Meals

Top Vancouver Restaurants for Medal Worthy Meals Top Vancouver Restaurants for Medal Worthy MealsHeading to Vancouver for the 2010 Winter Olympics? Get a competitive advantage over your fellow foodies with the scoop on 10 top restaurants serving meals as memorable as the games.

1. Araxi. Araxi has been satisfying Whistler diners for nearly two decades, but the name may be familiar to fans of Gordon Ramsay’s “Hell’s Kitchen.” Featured on the fiery show, Dave Levey, the winning contestant, is now cooking behind the line under the expert tutelage of James Walt. Forget the fanfare, though, and go for the farm-fresh, seasonal food, their impressive wine cellar, and the stellar service.

2. Bearfoot Bistro: Known among foodies far and wide for it’s regional and seasonal menu, the Bearfoot Bistro boasts a Champagne bar with a frozen ice rail and live piano music as well as an award-winning chef. Melissa Craig is renowned for her New Canadian cuisine, served up in a romantic setting. Watch for unique ingredients: Caribou, anyone?

3. Bishop’s: Fresh seafood and local meats keep locals coming back to Bishop’s in Kitsilano regularly – as do the staff. Owner John Bishop and maitre d’ Abel Jacinto are known for their hospitality while executive chef Andrea Carlson brings her love of gardening into the restaurant’s kitchen with sustainable foods. Try the Yukon Gold potato soup to warm you up and whet your appetite.

4. The Cannery Seafood House. An institution of the Vancouver dining scene since 1971, The Cannery is set to close on March 27, 2010 – forever. Don’t miss your last chance to sample the delicious dishes at this scenic stand-by that’s situated in the Port of Vancouver. Come for the amazing sunsets and stay for the ocean-friendly seafood and deep discounts on wines of all prices from the restaurant’s impressive cellar.

5. db Bistro Moderne. Restaurateur/renowned chef Daniel Boulud brings his brand of casual culinary magic northwest from New York to Kitsilano. Traditional bistro fare, such as coq au vin, populates the menu alongside locally inspired dishes. Don’t miss the famous db Burger (sirloin filled with braised short ribs and black truffle).

6. Five Sails. Operated by husband and wife team of Chef Ernst Dorfler and Gerry Sayers, Five Sails has a view to kill for and cuisine to match it. A favorite of OpenTable diners, the restaurant is very vegetarian-friendly, but you’ll also find plenty of meat dishes, including fallow deer, on the menu.

7. Lumiere. Another restaurant with Daniel Boulud’s imprimatur on it, Lumiere literally has something for everyone. Upscale sister to db Bistro Moderne (which is adjacent to Lumiere), Lumiere has a variety of menus to please varying palates and wallets, from small plates and a seasonal prix-fixe for just $65 to vegetarian tasting menu and a specially created grand tasting experience. Lumiere seats just 45, so reserve early.

8. Maenam. Maenam boasts a terrific Thai menu and a pedigreed chef, Angus An, who worked with and was inspired by David Thompson, the renowned chef of Nahm in London, the only Michelin-starred Thai restaurant in the world. Authentic dishes, such as stir-fried halibut cheeks, are served up in a casual setting with prices that won’t break the bank.

9. Market by Jean-Georges. Jean-Georges brings contemporary American cuisine to Vancouver. The restaurant itself is as dimensional as its menu, with an intimate and approachable café with a fireplace, a heated outdoor seasonal terrace with city views, a welcoming bar, and a sophisticated fine-dining room. Choose your own culinary adventure, starting with which section you dine in and whether you order from the raw menu, small plates, or sumptuous main dishes.

10. Rimrock Café. Two fireplaces set the mood at this cozy yet upscale Whistler restaurant. A favorite of locals, Rimrock’s menu features oysters served seven different ways, seafood specialties, and buffalo, caribou, and venison entrees. The wine program is paramount to Rimrock’s success. Oenophiles will enjoy the can’t-miss lit cellar that holds more than 320 labels from around the world.

Fondue or Fon-don’t: Does Melted Cheese Melt Hearts?

Fondue or Fondont Fondue or Fon dont: Does Melted Cheese Melt Hearts?We recently announced the winners of the OpenTable Diners’ Choice award for the Top 50 Most Romantic Restaurants. Of the 50, a whopping 12 were Melting Pot restaurants, where fondue anchors the menus. Two other winners, La Fondue and Simply Fondue, are also, as you might have guessed by their names, fondue-friendly eateries. The Chicago Tribune‘s food blog, The Stew, picked up on our list’s fromage factor and ran with it, while the clever folks over at Eater didn’t want to give a shout out to these restaurants when they generously covered our list, saying, “[F]ondue hasn’t been considered romantic since Three’s Company went off the air.” The fact remains, however, that many diners find fondue to be the perfect mood food for a romantic evening.

What exactly is it that makes love bloom over melted cheese and other cook-it-yourself delights? We weren’t quite sure, so we reached out to our network of diners over Facebook and Twitter. Bulbul Gupta says, “Interactive food is always a great date dinner idea, interactive anything is very romantic — you learn to share early on and can easily feed each other with a one-foot distance without it getting overly mushy…perfect!” Diner Teresa Miller concurs, “The Melting Pot in Larkspur is VERY romantic. The location is in an old brick kiln with lots of low lighting. Cheese is comfort food, hence the reason why romance blooms when bellies are satisfied!” Jennifer Kaplan, also a fondue fan, says, “My husband and I do find it romantic. The lighting is low and the tables are reasonably secluded. We enjoy lingering over our dinner and find the food to be very good.” Ryan Mathus tweets, “I find fondue/Melting Pot cool just because it’s not your traditional meal and more hands on. It’s all about us.” Fellow tweep Jen Fairchild notes, rather poetically (or erotically?), “Fondue is steamy and hot and thick and creamy and good…just like love!”

Perhaps the best and not-at-all cheesy cheese story we heard comes from OpenTable diner Cara Couture of Charlotte, North Carolina. She writes, “My husband and I go to The Melting Pot any time we have reason to celebrate — graduation, anniversary, new job, a Friday night — but our favorite reason was to celebrate our engagement. In between the limo ride and the chartered plane trip around the city of Columbus, Ohio, my then-fiancé made dinner reservations at our favorite restaurant, The Melting Pot, where a bouquet of roses was at our regular table with a congratulations card signed by the restaurant staff. To this day, that remains the most romantic night of my life.” Sigh. My husband’s marriage proposal is looking more and more lame the more stories I hear like this one (a chartered plane?). But, I digress.

To find out if the people from The Melting Pot had any insights as to why their dining experience is so aphrodisiacal, we reached out to Chad Hornik, who owns several Melting Pot locations, including those in Richmond and Virginia Beach,  which were included on our Top 50 Most Romantic Restaurants winners for 2010. Hornik says of his restaurants’ romantic appeal, “Dining with fondue creates an aura of romance. It’s a participation meal — you’re cooking, helping, talking. Even if the conversation gets awkward, diners can talk about the food.” Also, “The lighting is dim, and each table is designed to have its own intimate atmosphere. We even have curtains that block off some of our tables, and sometimes we have to knock before we enter!” The Melting Pot, though, is more than just cheese. Hornik adds, “The cheese is just the appetizer. It’s a relaxed four-course dining experience, and the desserts…well, dipping strawberries into chocolate is pretty romantic.”

Chad, you had me (and, most certainly, my chocoholic husband) at strawberries and chocolate. Perhaps a a trip to The Melting Pot will prompt a second proposal. And, yes, Curt, that means a second ring.