Food is love, and for optimum pleasure in mid-February, both need at least a few luscious options. Saint Valentine, Chaucer, and even Cupid might scratch their heads to find the annual celebration of love tangled in commercial crowds when the intimate, delectable delights of supper clubs await hungry lovers. Our trailblazing city boasts inviting homegrown alternative choices, and there's no better time of year to venture on paths strategically designed to avoid the mayhem of modern love. – J.C.
Designed with the jazz clubs of the Fifites and Sixties in mind, Jeff Lofton's Jazz Supper Club offers dinner, drinks, and dancing for those seeking a Valentine's evening out. For two nights, Shoal Crossing Event Center will be transformed into a jazz lounge complete with grand piano and dance floor, allowing lovers a chance to dance the night away. Jazz trumpeter Jeff Lofton is an Austin Chronicle favorite and considered "a veritable jazz virtuoso" by KUT. He'll be leading a different lineup of local jazz greats each night. The full service dining experience hosted by Sterling Affairs Catering offers a tasty menu and an open bar serving wine, beer, Champagne, and specialty cocktails. Menu highlights include miniature chicken and waffles with honey chipotle glaze, prawn and papaya salad with crispy prosciutto and raspberry truffle vinaigrette, ancho-espresso rubbed beef tenderloin fillet with potato dauphinoise and grilled broccolini, and ice cream sundae and assorted parfait bars. Doors open at 7pm; show starts at 8pm. Dinner is $80 per person, plus tax; buy tickets online. – J.C.
There is no place like home, especially when it's transformed into a home-based supper club for lovers with a chef-prepared meal. Fine Home Dining, a local catering business with private chef services, has created an exquisite Valentine's Day menu full of fresh food, including a vegan option. Chefs Brandy Gibbs and Yasmine Anderson are known in the local food and farm communities for their focus on nourishing seasonal menus of exceptional quality. A four-course meal for two lets home diners choose pick-up or delivery, and one option each from the appetizer, first course, entrée, side, and dessert menus. A few of the freshly prepared items: handcrafted petite crab cakes with lemon caper aioli, a vegan chipotle sweet potato, apple, and pepitas soup, black pepper crusted beef fillet with red wine sauce and scalloped potatoes, roasted brussels sprouts with bacon and pickled red onions, and chocolate dipped strawberries and figs with local honey. It doesn't get much sweeter than cuddling on the couch with a gourmet meal, a movie, and no dishes in the sink. Dinner for two is $100, plus tax. Meals must be reserved by Monday, Feb. 11, by phone or email; pick-up or delivery is Thursday, Feb. 14. – J.C.
One of Austin's newest supper clubs, glass2plate, is turning V-Day's heavy expectations on their ear with a Heartbreak Anti-Valentine's Day Dinner on Sunday, Feb. 10. Having worked many a Feb. 14th (known as amateur night in the restaurant trade) over the years at Wink, club owners Dirk Miller and chef Matthew Taylor created this event for the jaded at heart, the single food-lover without a date, or even the skeptical diner who doesn't want to pay double on Thursday for what they could have had cheaper on the 13th. For those in the industry, says Miller, "It is one of the busiest nights of the year for restaurants. It is a logistical nightmare. The people are a nightmare." But being new to the supper club scene, they knew they had to do something, so celebrating the opposite of romance became the theme.
Chef Taylor's menu is broken into fairly unromantic, but delicious-sounding courses – Leaf, Hoof, Sides, and the Happy Ending – and will be served family-style. Locally-procured ingredients reign, and each course will be paired with handpicked wines as well as a dessert cocktail. The air should be playful, dotted with notes of bitterness, lots of black roses, communal seating, and a loveless playlist of songs. Dinner is at 6pm, with a possible second seating at 8pm. Seats are $75 with an optional gratuity; reserve online or by phone. – G.S.
Eastside catering company 2dine4's dining club, Supper Friends, will host two events at the charming Swoop House this week. On Monday, Feb. 11, they will feature a menu celebrating author Elizabeth Andoh's book Washoku: Recipes From the Japanese Home Kitchen. Washoku is a melding of the words harmony and food, and is a way to achieve nutritional balance and aesthetic harmony at the dinner table. The eight-course meal – all of which features vegetarian options – begins with passed appetizers. Menu highlights include lemon-garlic edamame spread on gourd chips, roasted corn miso soup with lobster dumplings, and Spanish mackerel sashimi with shredded cabbage. Andoh will attend the dinner, and signed copies of her book will be on sale. Tickets are $78 per person, plus tax and gratuity. On the 14th, Supper Friends will host a special seven-course Valentine's menu in the sweet, romantic cottage setting – including passed appetizers of bone marrow on crostini with pickled shallots, a pumpkin soup with tempura-fried lobster, seared scallops in a truffle butter, and mushroom-stuffed Chateaubriand. Dessert will feature a duck egg crème brûlée. The dinner is $70 per person, plus tax and tip. As always, Supper Friends is BYOB, so check out the full menus at their website, where the folks at East End Wines have made wine pairing suggestions. Reserve online or by phone. – G.S.
Chef Brent Schumacher and the team at Pink Avocado Catering run a monthly dinner series and have a lovely menu planned for Valentine's evening. Last year's 100-seat event sold out, and owners are anticipating the same turnout again. Each event is designed with food, decor, and entertainment inspired by a specific theme, so check out the website to see what to expect. Last year's Valentine's theme celebrated the Seven Deadly Sins, complete with live music and a burlesque show. This year's menu includes five courses: crispy calamari, passed when the doors open at 6:30; oysters and caviar; lobster bisque with candied Corn Nuts and Old Bay seasoning; a choice of Akaushi ribeye steaks or diver scallops with black truffle risotto; and dark chocolate cheesecake for dessert. Buy tickets ($75 with wine pairings, or $60 without) by phone, or visit breadandcircus.ticketbud.com/romantical. – G.S.
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