The Holidays with a capital H have passed, but Valentine’s Day is lurking around the corner– like a girl who’s high-maintenance-but-thinks-she’s-low-maintenance– just daring you to mess it up. Score high marks (for dinner, anyway), with these tips:
· Book Now: Want that table at 8:00? Your best bet is to book sooner rather than later. You can always cancel, but you can never get it back.
· Figure out your budget: You can have a great dinner out at any price, so pick a place you can afford. It’s more fun to go to a casual place and have the best things on the menu, rather than dine at the top your budget and pray your date doesn’t order a second glass of wine.
· Expect a pre fixe menu: Many think it’s a way for restaurants to gouge you, but it helps the chef know how much to food to prepare, and makes sure you get your money’s worth on a special occasion.
Can’t stomach a pre fixe? Find ethnic eateries or eat at the bar at a ‘classier’ joint—they usually offer a la carte.
· For a ‘Quiet Table,’ book after 9:00pm: 8:00pm is the busiest time to dine on Valentine’s Day. Period. After 9:00, other tables are finishing, leaving you with a space that grows more intimate as you head toward dessert.
· Be nice to the staff: You’ll stand out on a night when the hostess and bartenders are bombarded by “where the HELL is my table” and “this Riesling is COLD.”
· Tip early: Not for the faint of heart, but if you’re serious about getting special treatment, excuse yourself from the table and find your server. Slip him a small token, $20 or so, and let him know that extra attentions showered on your date won’t go unnoticed when the bill comes.