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Reservations required: Restaurants filling up for Valentine’s Day

 (Tribune News Service)
(Tribune News Service)

Valentine’s Day falls on a Tuesday this year.

And while local restaurants are planning for a busier night than usual that night, they’re also expecting larger crowds the weekend before and even the weekend after.

That means now’s the time to make reservations.

In fact, many prime timeslots might already be claimed for Friday and Saturday as well as Tuesday. Reservations started picking up in the middle of last week at restaurants throughout the Inland Northwest in connection with Valentine’s Day.

With reservations

“Reservations are always hard to predict,” said Taylor Siok, pastry chef at Luna (5620 S. Perry St., 509-448-2383), on Spokane’s South Hill. “Generally speaking, the sooner they are made the better – especially if people are looking for specific times. We anticipate being booked solid for the weekend, but it is hard to say when specifically we will run out of space.”

It’s a similar scene at Clover (913 E. Sharp Ave., 509-487-2937) in Spokane’s University District. “We are expecting to be full on Friday, Saturday and Tuesday,” said executive chef Travis Dickinson. Plus, Clover is “hoping the following weekend is big, too.”

So is Europa Restaurant and Bakery (125 S. Wall St., 509-455-4051) in downtown Spokane. “Being that it’s on a Tuesday, I think we will get some business that night and the weekend prior and afterwards,” owner Aja Engels said. “It’s hard to know for sure, but we already have (had) reservations all week and I expect that to continue.”

Reservations started coming in at Gilded Unicorn (110 S. Monroe St., 509-309-3698), in downtown Spokane last week, too. “We’re already filling up for the weekend before (Valentine’s Day),” said chef Alex Stoy, who also expects Tuesday to “be busier than normal. I don’t know if the weekend after (Valentine’s Day) will be all that busy because it’s five days after.”

But, he said, you never know. Some sweethearts might opt to celebrate later rather than sooner to avoid the crowds. Either way, Stoy suggested making reservations – “the sooner the better.”

By Thursday of last week, Beverly’s at the Coeur d’Alene Resort (115 S. Second St., 855-999-7998), was already “pretty close to being 100-percent booked for Tuesday,” said general manager Brianna Robson, who’s spent six Valentine’s Days on the property. This will be her third one at Beverly’s.

For Feb. 14, she said, “definitely, reservations are required. Don’t wait to call.” While the restaurant will open for dinner an hour earlier than normal and stay open an hour later, “we will definitely max out.”

Diners can also pre-order flowers through the restaurant; they’ll be pre-set on the reserved table and guests can take them home after dinner.

For those celebrating on the weekend, there’s live music in the lounge. Consider arriving early to watch the sun set over the lake. And note that the weekend after will likely be less busy than the weekend before, Robson said.

On the menu

In addition to recommending – even requiring – reservations, many restaurants are also planning special menus or menu items.

The regular dinner menu will be available at Beverly’s, which will also be offering special three-course pairings for $60, $75 and $80 per person. Special Valentine’s appetizers can be included for an additional cost. Specials will be available Friday through Tuesday.

At Luna, specials include a strawberry salad with toasted pistachios, shaved Parmesan and basil. Special entrees are pan-seared filet mignon with vanilla-carrot purée as well as fish in a parchment packet with king trumpet mushrooms, leeks and Dijon-garlic butter. The Valentine’s dessert is dark chocolate cremeux with chantilly, salted caramel and toasted pecans.

Clover is offering a special fixed-price menu featuring four courses plus glass of sparkling wine for $75 per person. For fun, items printed in red on the menu denote suspected aphrodisiacs.

Start with an oyster on the half shell as an amuse bouche, then move onto the first course: duck confit crepe with brie and caramelized leek and fennel. The second course is a choice of bibb lettuce-and-radicchio salad or squash-and-ginger soup. The entrée is a choice of pan-roasted king salmon with truffle grits with Brussels sprouts and apple slaw or chili-rubbed New York strip steak with white chocolate and cherry mole sauce and roasted cauliflower.

Dessert is a glass of bubbly with a choice of any Clover dessert – from hazelnut brown butter cake with salted caramel mascarpone to butterscotch pudding with fleur de sel.

If that’s not enough, there’s a featured cocktail, too – the $11 Jasmine Fizz with gin, citrus, triple sec and Campari, carbonated in house.

Wait until morning

Lovebirds wanting to avoid dinner crowds – or who simply waited until it’s too late to reserve seats for dinner – might want to go out to eat earlier in the day. Restaurants expect to be busy in the late morning and early afternoon this weekend, too.

Clover is planning a brunch special this weekend. Guests can add a house baked scone and glass of Prosecco to any brunch entrée for $10.

“Brunch would also be a great option,” said Siok, noting that Luna is anticipating busy late mornings and early afternoons this weekend as well – “particularly Sunday.”


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