Did you know that Valentine’s Day is so named for a Christian martyr and dates back to the 5th century, but also has origins in the Roman holiday ‘Lupercalia’…
Apart from the above piece of scintillating knowledge, we all know that February has long been celebrated as a month of romance, and that the 14th, St Valentine’s Day, is THE day of love. During the Middle Ages, it was commonly believed in England and France that 14th February was the beginning of birds’ mating season, which added to the idea that the middle of Valentine’s Day should be a day for romance. Enough of that soppy nonsense. Here’s a rundown of our favourite locations for a candlelit dinner. And may the passion be with you…
The Alice Hawthorn (http://www.thealicehawthorn.com) is a delightful country pub tucked away in the beautiful village of Nun Monkton, North Yorkshire. Located halfway between historic York and the spa town of Harrogate, Nun Monkton not only boasts the oldest working green in England, but also the tallest maypole and an Anglo-Norman church dating back to the late 12th century. The Alice (named after a famous racehorse) has recently been taken over by locally renowned chef John Topham and his wife Claire, who also run the General Tarleton Inn nearby. The Alice re-opened on 1 February with a wonderful new seasonal menu and a special Valentine’s menu at £45,00 per person, including home hot smoked salmon, king scallop & crab lasagne, Holme Farm haunch of venison and tastes of Yorkshire Rhubarb.
Fancy taking your loved one to the the seventh sexiest restaurant in the UK (as voted by The Times) and (probably) the most romantic restaurant in Scotland? Then ‘book’ no further than The Stockbridge Hotel (http://www.thestockbridgerestaurant.co.uk) in Edinburgh. The restaurant (main image) has played host to so many proposals that owner Jane has lost count. The beautiful restaurant is nestled in a candlelit basement venue on St Stephen’s Street and is one of the only family-run two AA rosette restaurants in the city. Head chef Jason and proprietor Jane are the faces of this local favourite. Jason sources all ingredients himself to ensure the very finest food comes into his kitchen. Diners enter via an ivy-covered doorway, which situated at the foot of some age-old topsy turvy steps. This, in turn, opens on to an intimate space, awash with character. Natural stone walls create an atmospheric ambience, while two large mirrors create a feeling of space, and large prints of works by the Edinburgh Colourists adorn the walls. A striking fireplace, overflowing with wax from candles burned out during long, intimate evenings of dining, takes stance at the head of the room. The restaurant is decorated daily with fresh flowers, which, alongside candles and fairy lights, create a stylish ambience for a relaxing dining experience.
A stunning hotel and restaurant on the Rosalind Peninsula, The Rosevine (https://www.rosevine.co.uk) has a six-course menu available on Valentine’s Day at £66,00 per person. Arrive at 6.30pm and enjoy a drink by the fireside before taking your seats for dinner. A glass of champagne for you and your loved one will start the special meal, with a choice of mains including roast sirloin of Cornish beef served with sweetheart cabbage, watercress purée and smoked butter, or (V) Candy beetroot and rosemary goats cheese wellington, roasted pears and tarragon jus. The Rosevine is also offering a childminding service for the evening, for an additional £15 per child.
A sophisticated hotel and restaurant, The Old Quay House (http://theoldquayhouse.com) is situated right on the river estuary in Fowey. On offer is a six-course menu at £60,00 per person, so expect to see Poached oyster, cucumber, caviar, oyster leaf; Beetroot & goats cheese, pickled walnut, pear, balsamic; Warm lobster, lemon hollandaise, bloody mary, crispy sampler; Beef fillet, bone marrow, king oyster mushroom, parsley; Romeo & Juliet; Poached rhubarb, lime, champagne butter. For bookings, contact the hotel on 01726 833302.
Salcombe’s South Sands Hotel (http://www.southsands.com) is offering guests an exclusive dinner experience this Valentine’s Day as Head Chef Allister Bishop has prepared a romantic six-course feast for lovers. Wherever possible, Allister uses local ingredients and integrates foraged food as demonstrated in a mouthwatering menu including Beetroot soup; Liquorice & peppermint cured salmon, liquorice gel, soft herbs or Heritage tomato textures, Devon goat’s cheese mousse; Steamed local lemon sole fillet, hazelnut crust, wilted baby spinach or Sautéed gurnard, salsify purée, sprouting broccoli; 8-hour slow cooked Dartmoor reared beef cheeks, heritage carrots & purée, soft mash or Pan fried guinea fowl, red quinoa, roasted shallot purée, grilled baby leeks; Sharing chocolate assiette plate or Oven roasted compressed rum scented pineapple tart tatin, lemon grass ice cream or Selection of West Country cheeses. Phew! “We look forward to welcoming our Valentine’s diners who are looking for something extra special – not just with the tasting menu but also with the wine, cocktails and surroundings,” says Allister of the Valentines menu, at £65,00 per person or £95,00 per person with wine pairing, and is bookable here or by calling 01548 845 900. “Wherever possible at South Sands, we use local ingredients and integrate foraged food into both the food and the drinks menu. We’ve tried to create a sensational and ultimately romantic dining experience, combined with the unparalleled views overlooking the Salcombe Estuary.” The Valetine’s Dinner menu is complimented by a wine flight curated by sommelier Richard Coulson,who recently joined the hotel from Gidleigh Park. Bar Manager Will Neal has created two Valentines cocktails, both based on a warming and seasonal blend of white rum and honey with a sparkling splash of Lyme Bay Brut. The ‘Stupid Cupid’ includes beetroot powder and a touch of lemon juice, and ‘Cold Black Heart’ incorporates activated charcoal.
Nestled at the foot of Ben Cruachan, tucked between Loch Etive and Loch Awe, The Taynuilt: Etive Restaurant with Rooms, Argyll, is an unknown wilderness retreat just 12 miles from Oban, the gateway to the craggy isles. Dinner at the Etive Restaurant is the main attraction at The Taynuilt, prepared by John McNulty, one of Scotland’s most exciting chefs John McNulty. John’s menus explore the absolute best of Scotland’s produce using locally foraged ingredients, meat and fish from local suppliers and making use of their on-site smokery. For Valentine’s, The Taynuilt is serving a glass of sparkling wine to start, followed by hand-dived Isle of Skye king scallops, Highland venison carpaccio or a winter vegetable nage. The main course will be Ballimore Highland beef with foie gras, oven roasted loin of cod in a saffron sauce, slow cooked lamb and shallots, or a mushroom and celeriac pithiver. Finally, on to passion fruit soufflé, a white chocolate crème brulee or The Taynuilt’s impressive Scottish cheeseboard. General Manager and sommelier David Lapsley will be on hand to recommend the perfect wine to complete this intimate dining experience.