Side Dish 

Aphrodisiacs Disguised as Menus

Chef Todd Manley at Pescados, the Midlothian bistro with a lively following, will dish up — by preorder only — a five-course Valentine's dinner for $120 per couple. He'll feature a Kansas City strip steak and Caribbean spiny lobster tail sautéed in a peppercorn, chocolate and lemon mole. A dessert prepared tableside is included, and for an additional $40, the couple can indulge in an unusual drink pairing that includes tequila, mango sangria, wines and peach port.

Patina Grill in the West End will stick to its regular menu, promising "never to gouge customers with high prices or fixed-price dinners on holidays," says partner Bobby Dervishian, who suggests an Arboleda Syrah to pair with one of this season's most popular dishes by Chef Brian Munford, a grilled lamb loin chop with butternut-filled ravioli in savory butter topped by a spinach and tangerine salad. Valentine's diners will get a special treat at the table, though. Hint: It's pretty, functional and not edible.

Maybe it's a road trip that excites your Valentine, especially when it's a progressive wine-tasting that involves chocolates, fine cheeses and live music at a dozen Northern Virginia vineyards the weekend of Feb. 11 and 12.

Farfelu Vineyards will have a bonfire, Gadino Cellars will host a four-course Italian meal, and Rappahannock Cellars will release its 2004 Meritage. Other wineries on the tour will offer game pieces for prizes and will pair wines with desserts and chocolate. Go to www.blueridgewineway.com, or call (800) 820-1021 for information.

If a dessert from The Trellis in Williamsburg gets your Valentine excited, consider Chocolate Valentine Fantasy, a new creation by Chef Marcel Desaulniers and Pastry Chef Shelley Tennant. They're serving drinks like Heartthrob, Liquid Love and Cupid's Kiss as well, so be prepared for a sugary overload.

Or perhaps a home-by-the-fireplace dinner suits your style. Seven Hills Market is offering a takeout, four-course Valentine's dinner for two, from oysters casino or ravioli Florentine to steak or seafood with sauces and accompaniments. Profiteroles or Napoleons complete the package at just under $50. Look for champagnes and wines in the shop as well, and the friendly, attentive service of the owners, the Parfitt family, at 3516 Forest Hill Ave.


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