February 14 is a commercial holiday, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a great excuse to get out of the house. Whether you’re committed or free as a bird, love romance or can’t stand it, here are a few ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day.
If the way to the heart is through the stomach
Dinner at Bluebonnet Barbecue will involve an unconventional serenade: a mariachi band will perform while you tuck into a three-course set menu ($85). Dessert and a blackberry Bellini cocktail are included. Book here.
Cutler & Co. is putting on an indulgent dinner celebrating produce at its peak right now, such as heritage tomatoes, zucchini flowers and summer berries. For dessert, there’s blueberry vacherin with violet cream and blackberry sorbet. Dinner is $200, with matched wine for another $120. More information here.
Moody Collingwood 36-seater Ides is doing a one-off black chocolate cube you smash open with a silver hammer to reveal a delicious mess of blackberries, blueberries, coconut and cream cheese. It’s romantic, and very dramatic. Reservations here.
King and Godfree will be Valentine’d out from top to bottom. The party starts on the roof at Johnny’s Green Room. Musical couple Mike Katz (Harvey Sutherland) and Emily York will provide the tunes, and a happy marriage of spritz and salumi is on the menu for 40 bucks a person. Back down in the deli you can pick up a heart-shaped hunk of goat’s cheese to take home.
Indigenous chef Clayton Donovan is running a pop-up at South Yarra’s Abacus, showcasing native Australian flavours with a five-course set menu for $95. Expect smoked kangaroo with lemon myrtle and warrigal greens, and eucalyptus vanilla mousse for dessert. Bookings here.
The Prince Hotel is putting on a seafood-heavy menu loaded with oysters, prawns and fish for $75, and after diner you can head upstairs and stay the night. Rooms start at $350 per couple and include a bottle of Moët & Chandon. More information here.
Ahead of the next Broadsheet Kitchen resident stepping in, Saint Crispin is undergoing a seafood-centric takeover. Head chef Stuart McVeigh is putting together a five-course tasting menu ($130) featuring dishes such as tomato with whipped cod roe and bottarga, and John Dory with a squid ink and sardine vinaigrette. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to book.
For those trying to seriously impress, Mr. Miyagi is offering a next-level dining experience. For a whopping $1500 a person, you’ll get a private dining room all to yourself; a dedicated sushi chef; and seven luxurious courses including oysters with salmon caviar and yuzu sake foam, roast duck and fois gras bahn mi, Wagyu tataki, lobster, and an elaborate Valrhona dessert. To drink, bottomless ’09 Dom Pérignon and some top local wines. There's a cheaper option too, for $139. Book here, but note there are only two sittings available.
MC Escher’s work might be the only thing more complex than modern dating, so take your Tinder match along to the NGV’s exhibition of the Dutch artist’s most renowned pieces. Follow that up with lunch at Garden Restaurant, where you can share a three-course ($80) menu and take home a house-made chocolate gift. More information here.
Have a secret crush? At the Dead Letter Club, a mash-up of creative writing, mystery and booze at Noisy Ritual, you can pen a dedication to the one that got away, write an invoice to an ex who owes you for emotional labour, or swear off love entirely – and you’ll receive a reply. You just won’t know who it’s from. Bookings here.
Reunion Island Pool Club is hosting Fries Before Guys, a decidedly anti-Valentine’s Day party. Round up a gang of galentines – or manentines – and enjoy a Love Sucks cocktail in your own private pool and snacks from Easey’s. From $200 for a group of four. Bookings essential.
If Valentine’s Day isn’t already saccharine enough for you, give yourself a cavity at Sugar Republic. This adults-only evening session means you and your sweetheart can frolic in the candy-pink ball pit without having to fight kids to the front of the line. There’ll be free ice-cream and lollies, and a host of other sweet treats. Bookings here – and maybe book a dentist appointment, too.
Horses and sand might usually conjure up Mills & Boon, but St Kilda’s Twilight Beach Polo is a little cooler (and more realistic) than that. The day after Valentine’s, the foreshore will transform into an oasis of marquees: expect world-class polo, food, wine and fabulous fashion. More information here.
If you’re looking for love and efficiency is key, speed dating is the way to go. The Rooftop at QT is taking recycling to the next level, running a singles mixer where you BYO ex and trade them in. Northcote Social Club is throwing an All Gender Speed Dating session catering to gay, lesbian, straight and GSD (gender and sexuality diverse) people. And Windsor favourite Hawker Hall is throwing a Single Mingle party – give your thumbs a rest and swipe right on someone IRL. Tickets are $55 and include entry and your share of some of Hawker Hall’s most popular dishes.
Gift a little, get a little
Be your own Valentine with Piccolina’s limited-edition Giulietta cake ($12), a heart-shaped gelato confection with a centre of strawberry sorbet wrapped in velvety fior di latte gelato, finished with white chocolate love hearts and a chocolate wafer base.
From Tuesday 12 to Thursday 14, Garden State Hotel’s front windows will transform into a floral wonderland, selling an array of bouquets from Melbourne florist Clover Flowers – including single roses for $25 and more luxe arrangements for $65. Another unconventional florist is popping up at 408 Smith Street, a new transient retail space in Collingwood. Flowers Flowers will be crafting arrangements inspired by the cover art of New Order’s 1983 masterpiece Power, Corruption & Lies – think desaturated tones, native buds and gothic-inspired blooms. More information here. Or, order a plant online from Hello Botanical, a delivery service that specialises in indoor foliage such as ferns and monsteras.
Treat yourself or your lover to one of The Everleigh’s Valentine’s cocktail sets and you won’t even have to leave your living room. Or order a sausage bouquet, for those who prefer chorizo to carnations. Or, have a message emblazoned on a bag of Coffee Supreme beans.
Mihan Aromatics are gender-neutral fragrances made in Melbourne by Fitzroy couple Joshua and Jules Mihan. They marry beautifully stripped-back design with multifaceted scents. Our pick: Mikado Bark, with notes of cinnamon, sandalwood and green pepper, inspired by autumn in the inner-city suburbs of Carlton, Fitzroy and East Melbourne.
Finally, go classic with a box of chocolates. Koko Black’s latest special-edition kit ($39.50 for 16) is full of heart-shaped chocolate shells of peach and mint, passionfruit and vanilla, blackcurrant and orris root, and apricot and lavender caramel.
Kick Netflix and chill up a notch
Watching cult classic The Princess Bride high above the concrete jungle of the CBD isn’t a bad way to spend V-Day. Nab a spot on Rooftop Cinema’s astroturf and get ready to recite all of your favourite lines. Tickets here.
Cruel Intentions, a classic tale of manipulation and twisted sibling rivalry, isn’t the most obvious date material, but it’s a wild ride. Head to St Kilda’s historic Astor Theatre to see Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe and a baby-faced Reese Witherspoon at their late-’90s best. Tickets and more information here.