Restaurants help take the pressure off Valentine's Day expectations

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News
For Valentine's Day Imperial in  Ferndale has seared swordfish tacos, strawberry margaritas and more.

Let's be honest, Valentine's Day can be a chore. There's a lot of pressure to be romantic, thoughtful and original. 

Fortunately, with Cupid's holiday being one of the year's biggest occasions for dining, restaurants have you covered in a variety of ways. 

For the classic, romantic Italian restaurant scenario, you can't go wrong with the authentic experience at Bacco Ristorante in Southfield, the cozy atmosphere of Cafe Cortina in Farmington Hills or Mario's in Detroit, which has a dinner-and-show package that includes transportation from the restaurant to the Fisher Theatre for "The Play that Goes Wrong." 

If Valentine's Day means spending a meal with everyone you love, including the little ones, Rusty Bucket Restaurant and Tavern is offering free kids' meals for ages 12 and younger, plus a sugary-sweet kiddie cocktail for the occasion. The family-friendly bar and restaurant has four Metro Detroit locations including two in the Northville area. 

Pheromones: The Chemistry of Attraction is a cocktail and scent pairing Feb. 14 at Sfumato Fragrances.

Another more inclusive, yet more intimate, dining experience on Feb. 14 can be found at Folk Detroit in Corktown. Celebrating their status as a "Sanctuary Restaurant" — which means they stand up for people of all kinds, including workers and immigrants, and have a zero tolerance policy for any kind of discrimination — Folk is hosting a Sanctuary Dinner at 6 p.m. honoring love in all forms. The five-course meal includes beverage pairings, storytelling and a keepsake. Seatings are $80 per-person and can be purchased in advance via

Back to romance for two. If dinner plans are set, consider a cocktailing adventure with a twist. Castalia, the cocktail lounge inside Sfumato fragrance shop at 3980 Second in Detroit, is hosting a scent-and-drink pairing event. Seatings are 6 and 9 p.m. on Feb. 14. The $45 tickets include snacks and a flight of four original cocktails. Each is paired with a vial of scent, including a new scent that's been developed just for this occasion. Tickets must be purchased in advance at

Chef Phil Jones will cook at Revolver in Hamtramck on Valentine's Day.

Detroit area veteran chef Phil Jones will pop into Revolver in Hamtramck to cook a "Ladies' Man" dinner that starts off with a white chocolate and orange morsel from the city's own Bon Bon Bon confectionery. Chef Jones will also have a cheese course and serve oysters, a duck breast dish and a cassoulet. Seatings are 6 and 9 p.m. Feb. 14 and are $60. Purchase at

We've all seen that movie scene where a couple gets engaged at a nice restaurant. Pop the question at Seasons 52 in Troy on Valentine's Day and the wine-centric restaurant will give you a free champagne toast every time you dine there for the next year. Also at Seasons 52, celebrate a day early on Feb. 13 and get endless glasses of Riondo Prosecco for $14.95 with the purchase of an entree. 

Other restaurant promotions that expand beyond Feb. 14 can be found at Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar. This national fine dining chain is offering deluxe fixed-price meals for $350, $500 or $1,000 per couple Friday through Feb. 17. The three-course meals include a free gift and varying degrees of champagne, from a pair of glasses of Moët & Chandon Brut Imperial to a bottle of Dom Pérignon  There's a Flemings in Livonia and Birmingham. 

You can't go wrong with a table at one of Detroit's newer chef-driven destinations. Lady of the House has a six-course meal for $70 per person that starts with oysters and champagne and ends with chocolate fondue. Visit for details. Grey Ghost is serving a five-course menu on V-Day featuring filet mignon for $75 per person. They want you to e-mail them at to make reservations. 

Bistro Joe's in Birmingham also has a steak deal the same day with two 6-ounce center-cut prime fillets coupled with two 8-ounce lobster tails, plus mashed potatoes, grilled asparagus, a shared dessert and a dozen roses for $130. 

No reservations are needed at Imperial, a taco-and-tequila roadhouse-style pub in Ferndale will have some special menu items for lovebirds and single diners alike, including strawberry margaritas and frozen prickly pear margaritas. Lobster ceviche, seared swordfish tacos, tequila oyster shooters and Mexican chocolate mousse are also making an appearance. 

In Greektown, third wheels are welcome at the Firebird Tavern, which is giving groups of diners a pitcher of St. Germaine spritzer, a charcuterie board and  chocolate-covered strawberries to groups of three for $33.33.

Twitter: @melodybaetens