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The sweet spots: Will you be mine? Date-night desserts to delight your valentine

By Kris Kilduff For The Spokesman-Review

The last year, if anything, has been a test for every iteration of our human relationships. Families forced to keep socially distant through the holidays, friends unable to hunker down for Happy Hour, and significant others falling into the divisive traps of financial and political hardship.

This Valentine’s Day above any is our chance to put aside the overwhelming anxiety of life to celebrate love, togetherness and, most importantly, dessert.

Europa Restaurant & Bakery

125 S. Wall St., (509) 455-4051 and europastpokane.com

People say on Valentine’s Day, “love is in the air.” Well, if you happen to be dining at Europa, one of Spokane’s most iconic Italian eateries, love more than likely is in a drawer. Since opening, couples on date nights have been leaving love notes hidden in the restaurant’s European old world-style furnishings. Scribbling sweet nothings isn’t the only reason to visit Europa.

Europa’s menu is brimming with pizzas, pastas and diverse delicacies, but they are all merely appetizers because at Europa, the main course is dessert. Pastry chef Christie Sutton, who has been with the company for 21 years, spends each morning churning out vibrant pastries and over-the-top sweets that are sure to turn any rendezvous ravenous.

You’ll find your share of cakes and pies, but choose wisely, as the list is ripe with seasonal selections of baklava, cannoli, truffles and confections that would make Willy Wonka look like Grandpa Joe. If you have a sweet tooth, call your dentist because Europa is Spokane’s one-stop shop for all things decadent.

The Scoop Kendall Yards

1238 W. Summit Parkway, (509) 703-7042 or 1001 W. 25th Ave., (509) 535-7171 and thescoopspokane.com

When you were a kid, was there ever any single moment more exciting than hearing the ice cream truck rolling down the block? As adults, we no longer have to wait to hear the euphonic chords of “The Entertainer” to acquire our favorite frozen fare.

The Scoop owner Jennifer Davis is a deity of all things dairy, and even a few that are not. With two locations, one in Kendall Yards and one on the South Hill, you don’t have a far drive to dazzle your date in delightful flavors like strawberry pop tart, honey walnut cream cheese, prickly pear lemonade and banoffee pie.

Take your choice scooped in a waffle cone, as a cookie/brownie ice cream sandwich or as a pint to go. Scoop is Spokane’s premier creamery and perfect for a midday family outing or date-night dessert with your beloved.

Outlaw BBQ

4427 W. Wellesley Ave., (509) 868-0260 and outlawbbqspokane.com

You don’t have to be Billy the Kid to saddle up in Audubon and enjoy a rack of fall-off-the-bone ribs. Owner Ray Wilson may have one of our area’s most popular barbecue restaurants, but Outlaw BBQ also has slowly become one of Spokane’s most-sought-after spots for sweets.

Whether you wrangle your valentine for dinner or drinks, make sure to cowboy up toward the glass dessert case in the far back of the restaurant for a little window shopping. Here, you will find cheesecakes, pies, oversized cookies and all sorts of sugary surprises.

So, don’t be surprised if instead of hearing the common “save room for dessert,” you receive a hearty welcome from the chocolate-wielding wait staff and are told to “save room for dinner.”

Gilded Unicorn

110 S. Monroe St., (509) 309-3698 and gildedunicorn.com

One of the top questions I get when it comes to date night is “who has the perfect mix of food and atmosphere?” If you haven’t descended the ghostly gallows of Gilded Unicorn, you’re in for a treat. There is nothing like devouring contemporary comfort food in the depths of a 120-year-old building’s basement.

Dessert here is no different, as the eclectic ambience spills into your spoon. I am a fan of chef Mary Weaver’s frozen peanut butter pie, but I recently found out she will offer a Valentine’s Day-only dark chocolate Boyfriend Heart Cake that will be beautifully stacked with layers of strawberry filling, jam and dark chocolate ganache.

Max at Mirabeau

1100 N. Sullivan Road, (509) 922-6252 and maxatmireabeau.com

Spokane Valley has been cultivating its share of culinary contenders, but when it comes to celebrating courtship, Max at Mirabeau is king. I haven’t found anyone in the valley who rivals Max’s heavyweight dessert menu with vanilla bean bourbon bread pudding, cinnamon-fried banana sundaes or, my favorite, the house-made New York-style huckleberry cheesecake.

In celebration of Valentine’s Day, the team will also be offering limited-run Grand Marnier-infused, chocolate-covered strawberries. Since the popular restaurant is attached to the area’s most-upscale hotel, Mirabeau offers the perfect opportunity to stay the night and indulge in a bountiful Bloody Mary bar the next morning.

Dockside

115 S. Second St., Coeur d’Alene, (800) 688-5253 and docksidecda.com

If you haven’t been out to Dockside for a Gooey, ignore everything else on this list. If one dessert is iconic to our area, it is the giant, in-your-face sundae invented by Coeur d’Alene Resort. On average, the, ahem, dockside restaurant serves more than 6,000 Gooeys a month.

Enjoy versions dedicated to candy favorites including Butterfinger and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Others include Klicker strawberry cheesecake, a hot fudge brownie and one in honor of Cookie Monster.

February is your chance to get in on a Valentine’s Day Chocolate Cherry Kiss stacked with dark cherry and chocolate ice cream, covered in chocolate chips and cherry pieces and topped with hot fudge, pink chocolate bark and a luscious lip cookie. But don’t go at one of these beasts solo. It’s Valentine’s Day, and sharing is caring.

Kris Kilduff can be reached at kris.kilduff56@gmail.com.

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