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Posted at 8:12 AM ET, 01/29/2009

Valentine's Day Reservations: Going, Going . . .

By Julia Beizer

When it comes to Valentine's Day dining this year, it appears that if you snoozed, you lost. While many of us were still sleeping off the inauguration, savvy D.C. diners snapped up tables at romantic dining rooms around the region. Eve? "Fully committed." Adour, Corduroy, Farrah Olivia, Vermilion, Volt? All booked up, according to OpenTable.com. There are still tables to be found at places like Cafe Atlantico, Marvin and Mio -- provided you don't mind eating early (before 6:30) or late (after 9) that Saturday. But if you want to have that romantic dinner during the 7 or 8 o'clock hours, here are a few places that still had tables as of press time.

Darlington House was the site of one of my favorite meals last year. It had all the trappings of a romantic dinner -- cozy setting, indulgent food and sweet service -- without any of the romance. (All apologies to my very platonic dining partner, Mike.) For V Day, the restaurant is getting into the spirit by offering a special aphrodisiac-inspired a-la-carte menu (featuring heart-shaped red-beet-and-goat-cheese ravioli and a molten chocolate cake dessert) in addition to its regular menu. Expect complimentary roses and chocolate-covered strawberries at dinner.

Kay Zimmerman isn't a bad saleswoman. The Dino co-owner acknowledges that her cozy Cleveland Park space is pretty booked between 6:30 and 8:15, but, she says, "We have reservations as early as 5 for those folks who want to have dinner before a movie," noting that the Uptown is right across the street. The $59 menu includes three courses like steak tartare, seafood salad and tenderloin steak wrapped in pancetta with a black truffle red wine sauce. Wine pairings are additional $21. The regular menu won't be available, but Zimmerman is quick to note that Dino will have vegetarian options. (Full menu)

According to the Taberna del Alabadero's press release: "'In Spain, Valentine's Day is a very elaborate holiday, it's a day for men to woo their beloved and win their hearts,' said Chef [Dani] Arana. 'We wanted to express our Spanish passion and personify it in our menu here at Taberna this Valentine's Day.'" We don't think Arana actually said this, but, man, it just sounds sexy. On Valentine's, the restaurant will offer a four-course menu with options like oysters, beef with a fruit compote and coffee sauce and a chocolate-and-strawberry dessert. The prix-fixe is the only menu available that day. It's $95 per person ($150 with wine pairings) at dinner and $70 ($110 with wine pairings) from 11:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. for Valentine's lunch. (Full menu -- PDF)

There's something about the low lights in Tenleytown's Matisse that makes you want to inch closer to your date. The four-course Valentine's Day menu borrows heavily from the usual one. Two of my favorite dishes at the restaurant -- lobster bisque and tuna tartare -- make an appearance along with a selection of entrees and desserts with a rich French accent. The $75 menu is available all night, but the restaurant is already booked between 7 and 8:30.

Lovers who love seafood should consider D'Acqua. The $75 four-course menu at this downtown spot includes chilled seafood salad and oysters as appetizers, fish soup as a second course and and salt-crusted fish as an entree. Beef and pasta dishes are also available. (Full menu)

The Jaleos have added special small plates to their menu for the occasion. Look out for scallops and blood orange salad and creamy rice with black truffles and la serena cheese. (Full menu)

Live music accompanies blood orange salad, beef, swordfish and chocolate mousse at Sea Pearl. The prix-fixe is $45 per person.

In the Westin Reston Heights, Vinifera offers a four-course menu for $89, including decadent options like lobster salad with mango, seared foie gras and prawn and scampi risotto with chorizo. The meal includes a champagne toast, but full wine pairings are available for an additional $60.

In the Pentagon City Ritz, Fyve's $75 four-course menu includes oysters, pasta with white wine clam broth and basil, rosemary lamb chops and a chocolate dessert.

With multi-course chocolate tasting menus, Co Co. Sala just screams Valentine's Day. Unfortunately, the dining room is already full, but if you don't mind eating at the bar, the full menu is available there -- no reservation required.

Still can't get a table? Art and Soul and Blue Duck Tavern -- two well-received hotel restaurants -- are offering their Valentine's menus throughout the weekend. The four-course menu is $85 at Blue Duck. A three-course menu goes for $65 per person at Art and Soul.

-- Julia

By Julia Beizer  | January 29, 2009; 8:12 AM ET
Categories:  Restaurants  
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Comments

If Opentable shows no availability, you should always try to call the restaurant directly also. I've been successful in making reservations over the phone when opentable shows no availability. Valentine's Day might be difficult though.

Posted by: schrute | January 29, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse

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