Leave No Oyster Unshucked: A Valentine's Day Dining Guide

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food," George Bernard Shaw once wrote. This is only true until it isn't: Not until you find someone to share your beloved food does life really start to make sense. On Valentine's Day, all couples—new or ancient, calm or volatile—must dine out. It's practically the law. Hence, we present five ways to get your evening of sincerity—equal parts epicurean and amorous—off to a rousing start. (All events listed occur on Monday, Feb. 14; make reservations as soon as humanly possible.) What Pasta Freska (1515 Westlake Ave. N., 206-283-1515) has going is a dinner-diner dating service: You tell the chef what you're looking for, and he matches you up with a five-course meal ($19-$30/person). Your entrée could have claws (lobster), many tiny legs (black tiger prawns), or even wings (stuffed chicken marsala)—we really don't care, as long as you two are happy together. Dinner from 5 to 9 p.m. A place that keeps you in curries, pakoras, and kormas on Christmas wouldn't leave you hanging on Valentine's Day, and so it is that Northgate's Masala of India Cuisine (539 N.E. Northgate Way, 206-417-1118) presents a buffet ($40/couple!) to fall in love by. Help yourself to aloo tikki and dal, then eat your way through fish masala, matar paneer, shrimp saag, and Masala's widely adored butter chicken. As is customary, the per-couple price includes a glass of champagne apiece. Dinner from 4:30 to 9:30 p.m. The recent recipient of glowing praise in these pages, XO Bistro (2359 10th Ave. E., 206-328-6444) keeps up the good work with its three-course V-Day menu ($49), a parade of elegant Frenchness that includes Dungeness crab bisque and an entrée of seared lamb loin with ratatouille and thyme sauce, seafood vol au vent (pastry filled with ragout), or marinated flank steak with Walla Walla onions in a red-wine reduction, plus mocha opera cake for dessert. Dinner from 5 to 10 p.m. The folks at Madison Park bistro Voilà! (2805 E. Madison St., 206-322-5460) know a deal meal can still be romantic, which is why they're serving three lovely courses for a mere $39. Choose between escargot with diced bacon, a pear and bleu cheese tart, and bitter lettuce salad, then dote on your lamb chop avec pistou or chicken in tarragon sauce as you while away the evening. That chocolate mousse (or strawberry parfait) isn't going anywhere. Dinner from 5 to 10 p.m. "Let's skip dinner" is often code for "let's to the bedroom, shall we?" At SweetFest 2005, an event hosted by Zeitgeist Coffee (171 S. Jackson St., 206-932-3572) and catered by Sugar, West Seattle's newest bakery, it means the party's just begun. For $25 in advance ($27 at the door), you and your sweet-toothed mate get all the cakes, cookies, and other dulcet treats your hearts desire, plus a glass of champagne or wine (or coffee) and some sugary goodness to go. Seatings on the hour from 8 p.m. to close.

 
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