If you’re reading this, then you’re probably already thinking about what you should be doing for Valentine’s Day this year. Yes, it’s almost February, can you believe it? If you’re feeling a little bit uninspired, I’ve got just the thing for you. Check out these Valentine’s Day Bites for 2018, up ahead!
Chaval: 58 Pine Street, Portland, West End
When it comes to love, the French know exactly what they are doing, and the cuisine at Chaval is everything that you want on Valentine’s Day. Think French & Spanish influences for a meal that will feel intimate, no matter who you are sharing it with. The weather is just a little too cold to sit outside and enjoy the magical exterior, but inside is cozy, and perfect for sharing a churro with that special someone. If you’re looking for Valentine’s Day bites that will fill you up, stop in and check out Chaval has to offer. Notable entrees to try include the Duck Confit, as well as an impeccably made roasted chicken that will make you forget what chicken really tastes like. The show stopper? The churros, served with an ooey gooey hot chocolate sauce, of course. Is your mouth drooling yet?
A lot of things come and go in the Old Port, but the Bar of Chocolate is always a constant. The only thing that may be better than French inspired cuisine are French inspired cocktails, of course. Walking inside the Bar of Chocolate feels like you’ve stepped into a tiny French cafe that nobody else in the world knows about. What I love most is the escapist feeling that’s served along with these boozy cocktails. A couple of sips of the chocolate dessert martini and you’ll feel yourself start to melt into your seat. The world stops, and instead, all you’re thinking about is whether you’ll stick with the chocolate martini, or if you’ll move onto something else, like the Key Lime Pie martini. There’s no such thing as a “bad” drink here, so if you’re looking for a cocktail that you’ll remember, this is one of those Valentine’s Day bites (and sips) you won’t forget!
It’s hard to pick a favorite cocktail in Portland, since there are so many choices. But if I had to, it would probably be the stunning Prince of Brazil cocktail served at Blyth & Burrows. Old school glamour and chic style fit right in at Blyth, as this is not only a bar to drink at, but a bar to be seen at. And when you’re seen at Blyth & Burrows, something inside just feels right, especially when you’re drinking an exotic cocktail that could practically be called a work of art. If you’re going to do your Valentine’s Day bites right, and really, there’s no other way to do it, make sure you stop by for a nightcap at Blyth & Burrows.
Okay, back to the food. You’re more than welcome to drink away your Valentine’s Day, but this is called Valentine’s Day bites for a reason. Over the years, I’ve gone to the fancy places for Valentine’s Day, and enjoyed them all. This year, I’m more into the experience, and the unique menu that I’ll find, which is why Izakaya Minato has to be on this list. I love the small plates set up here, and the fact that the small plates are actually not that small! Unique menu items that I love include the Udon Vongole, which mixes two classic dishes (udon soup and clam vongole) together into one hodgepodge that tastes better than both originals. The star of the show here is the JFC, or Japanese Fried Chicken. This is definitely up there as one of the best places to get fried chicken in Portland for me right now. For a unique Valentine’s Day bites experience, this is the way to go.
I think this may be the most traditional place to stop in for Valentine’s Day, but that’s precisely why I had to include it. Valentine’s Day is all about sharing with the one you love, and what better way to do it than with a plate of spaghetti and meatballs? Classic Italian fare is the name of the game here, and I love that. There’s no better holiday that could be spent with classic Italian food than Valentine’s Day. Italian food at Roma Cafe is love, pure and simple. And if you’re not a spaghetti and meatballs fan (which I don’t get, but each to their own) the Eggplant Parmesan will knock your socks off, guaranteed.
Bolster Snow & Co. has made a serious name for itself since opening just a few short months ago. Yes, it is currently a hot spot of Portland’s food scene, but chef Nicholas Verdisco is also serving up some incredible meals that stand out. In Bolster, Snow and Co’s case, simplicity becomes a good thing, like a Duck served two ways exploding with flavor, or the impeccably prepared Scallop Crudo that my mouth is still dreaming of, months after trying it. One of my favorite things about food is being able to share the experience with the ones I love. To me, Valentine’s Day is absolutely a foodie holiday, especially if you’re dining at Bolster, Snow & Co.
For the wine drinkers, this last part of the Valentine’s Day bites is for you. I’m all for a good bar, but I’m also really into wine. In my personal opinion, a good glass of wine can be the difference between a good day and an average day. Over the summer, I got to stop by and try out eighteen twenty wines before they opened, and I loved it. The wine is actually rhubarb wine, which is what makes it so good!
eighteen twenty wines is doing something seriously different in a landscape that’s populated with craft brews and hard ciders. Rhubarb wine is a little bit on the drier side, like a cider, but still a touch sweet, like a standard wine. Besides the rhubarb wine, Eighteen Twenty Wines has also released 2 hard ciders, a rhubarb strawberry wine, and a winter rhubarb wine. The results? Unlike anything else that you’ve tried before. And if this is intriguing to you, you owe it to yourself to go visit their tasting room, open Thursday-Friday from 4-7 pm, and Saturday-Sunday from 12-7 pm.
Hopefully these Valentine’s Day bites help you feel a little more ready for the season of love! Think I missed the perfect spot for lovers this year? Let me know in the comments below or on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!