Did it sneak up on you?
Valentine’s Day falls on a Friday this year, which yields a sticky wicket for diners and restaurants alike.
Perhaps to combat that timing — the below picks would likely fill up on any weekend night — many area restaurants are offering their special menus on Thursday and Saturday, too.
Duke’s is running its specials all week, and The Table chose Saturday for its prix fixe, with an early and late seating.
The Social will unveil its four-course menu, paired with wines from Washington’s Mark Ryan Winery, on Thursday and keep it going until Monday night.
“We understand that not everyone can get out on Friday,” said Philip Panagos, who opened The Social nine years ago next to the Museum of Glass.
Plus, there’s a Blake Shelton concert at the Tacoma Dome on Friday. At 7 p.m. — also known as dinner time.
Enough people will be having “their best day,” Panagos said, that he doesn’t mind dealing with the havoc of both a pre-concert push and the sweetheart holiday. But it does affect timing for the prix fixe, which The Social will try to keep quiet from 5 to 7 p.m. on February 14. Otherwise, it’s smooth sailing.
Crudo & Cotto
Night owls, take note.
Though it opened but two months ago, Crudo & Cotto has, judging by its reservation availability, gained attention for its sophisticated Italian fare. Spots are still available after 9 p.m. on Feb. 14 for a three-course dinner, so plan on having a drink at a nearby bar before diving into an Insalata di Polpo (octopus) or Barbabietola (beets) in a housemade cider vinaigrette.
The main course offers burrata ravioli in a truffle cream sauce, prosciutto-wrapped filet alongside smoked sea scallops, or a lightly breaded halibut with rapini and polenta. Complete the meal with chocolate mousse or panna cotta — all for $65 and a glass of sparkling Brachetto d’Acqui.
Ample reservations are still available on Feb. 15, when you can savor local salmon and swordfish crudo ($15), five-mushroom risotto ($18) and Cornish game hen braised in duck fat ($24). Read more about the new restaurant in TNT Diner’s official preview.
▪ Crudo & Cotto, 2717 N. Proctor St., 253-292-1120, crudoandcotto.com
▪ Feb. 14, $65 prix fixe, reservations through HostMe
The Valentine’s Day menu at this waterfront restaurant has a little something for every couple. Of course there is seafood, starting with a Dungeness crab dip ($15.90) and local Manila clams steamed with butter, garlic, herbs and white wine ($16.90 for a pound).
Special entrees also revolve around the sea: A butterscotch sauce adorns Copper River salmon ($33.90), and pollock envelopes more crab and wild prawns ($19.90). A fisherman’s stew boasts clams, salmon, cod and prawns in a housemade shellfish stock ($22.90).
Stay on land with a Tillamook white cheddar burger on Essential Baking’s rosemary bread ($18.90) or a coffee-rubbed filet mignon ($36.90).
Cheers the evening with a flute of Cavicchioli 1928 “Love” prosecco, a special Valentine’s Day vintage ($9.90 or $36 for the bottle). Duke’s is also featuring Napa Valley and Sonoma County wines, all under $50 a bottle.
Reservations are filling up on Feb. 14, but lucky for you, these specials are available now through Monday, Feb. 17.
▪ Duke’s Seafood, 3327 Ruston Way, Tacoma, 253-752-5444, dukesseafood.com
▪ Specials all week long, reservations through OpenTable
The Social Bar & Grill
Not even a Blake Shelton concert will stop The Social from celebrating Valentine’s Day right.
The waterfront restaurant has teamed up with Mark Ryan Winery, a 20-year-old vintner with tasting rooms in Woodinville and Walla Walla. Most of their grapes are grown in the Red Mountain area of Yakima Valley, and their wines are just hitting restaurants now.
Owner Philip Panagos and his team have created a four-course menu with three wine pairings for $130 per couple. Sans wine, it’s $90 for two. Each course offers a few dishes — including a vegan choice — that pair with either Mark Ryan’s Chardonnays or Cabernet Sauvignon.
The vegan aspect is a point of pride for the restaurant, according to Panagos.
“It was a challenge, but it’s such a common thing in the culinary world these days to have vegan options, so we’re jumping on that bus,” he said.
Choose among golden cauliflower, crab wontons or lamb meatballs to start. The soup or salad course will include a butternut bisque and a pear-gorgonzola salad. Entrees friendly to white wine range from salmon to diver sea scallops, plus a vegan “scallop” made with king oyster mushrooms and a miso glaze for an umami punch. For reds, it’s chicken, ribeye or a tofu steak with chimichurri.
Last but not least, desserts include a bread pudding, chocolate cake and a vegan white macadamia nut cheesecake. The full experience should take about 90 minutes.
▪ The Social, 1715 Dock St., Tacoma, 253-301-3835, thesocialbarandgrill.com
▪ Feb. 13 and 15-17, 4:30-9 p.m. (Feb. 14, 4:30 p.m or 7-9 p.m.), $90-$130 per couple
▪ Reservations through Eventbrite, call to confirm your preferred time
Gertie and The Giant Octopus
Helmed by chef Kieran McMeekin, the Gig Harbor restaurant will offer a $50 prix fixe (excluding tax and gratuity) on Feb. 14 with plenty of its specialty: fresh seafood.
The meal kicks off with an amuse-bouche of oysters with pomegranate granita. For the official appetizer, choose among a scallop carpaccio served with salsa verde and housemade focaccia; black risotto speckled with asparagus, peas and meyer lemon foam; or a pomegranate salad tossed in a pink peppercorn vinaigrette.
Mains include a beef cheek mole topped with “torched” citrus salt, Bristol Bay sockeye salmon with a smoked pepper puree, and a vegetarian herb pasta with wild mushrooms.
Seal the meal with your choice of zabaglione (Italian custard) or strawberry shortcake, featuring a house biscuit and chamomile pastry cream.
Definitely make a reservation, the hostess told The News Tribune, by calling the restaurant or emailing email@example.com. Enjoy McMeekin’s regular dinner menu on Thursday or Saturday.
▪ Gertie and The Giant Octopus,, 4747 Point Fosdick Dr., Gig Harbor, 253-649-0921, facebook.com/gertieandthegiantoctopus
▪ Feb. 14, 4-9 p.m., $50 prix fixe, reservations by email or phone
Chef Arnel Gaitan will offer a special Valentine menu Thursday through Saturday, starting at 4 p.m.
Begin with classic lobster bisque ($12 for a cup), or keep it light with Gaitan’s celery root and pear bisque ($7 cup). Mix in salad and any number of shareable apps like calamari frites with a sundried tomato aioli ($15) and togarashi ahi drizzled with a sriracha honey, ready to dip in wasabi aioli ($10).
Mains run the gamut from sweet pea risotto and mushroom ravioli in a creamy champagne sauce (both $18.95 before adding an optional meat or fish), to halibut in a macadamia nut romesco with coconut rice ($34.50) and diver scallops alongside chorizo, polenta and an avocado mousse ($32.95).
Go big with a 32-ounce tomahawk steak, dripping in a peppercorn demi, equipped for two: it’s served with two soups, salad and shareable sides, plus dessert and champagne, all for $145.
Reservations on Feb. 14 are filling up fast, but Thursday and Saturday are looking a bit roomier.
HG Bistro, 1618 E. Main Ave., Puyallup, 253-845-5747, hgbistro.com
Details: Feb. 13-15, 4-9 p.m. (regular lunch menu available at 11:30 a.m.), reservations through Yelp
This Sixth Avenue spot has decided to offer its Valentine’s Day prix fixe on Saturday, which means spots are still available. Choose between a 5:30 p.m. or 8:30 p.m. seating.
For $85 per person (before tax and gratuity), indulge in an eight-course meal of “pure deliciousness” with rare ingredients and unique pastries, according to the restaurant. That entails A5 Japanese wagyu, moonfish and sweet potato BBQ, and a beef and sourdough ravioli. Bonus: the beautifully petite Kusshi oysters from the waterways of Vancouver Island.
Kusshi translates from Japanese to “precious” — a perfect match for this date, ending with a raspberry bon bon. Leave the drinks to the pros with a $45 optional wine pairing.
If you’re set on enjoying chef Derek Bray’s standard menu on Feb. 14, you can sign up on Resy to be notified if a reservation opens up. Note that The Table offers communal seating or bar seating only, so everyone can feel the love. You can also enjoy a prix fixe meal here every Thursday through Saturday.
The Table, 2715 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, 253-327-1862, thetabletacoma.com
Details: Feb. 15, 5:30 or 8:30 p.m., reservations through Resy