Celebrated around the world, Valentine’s Day symbolizes a day of love to spend time with a significant other or at least with loved ones. Of course, the most important part of the holiday is being able to bond with those dear to us. However, it’s hard to pretend that gifts or other acts of kindness don’t matter. Why limit our choices to flowers, perfume or chocolates? Valentine’s Day gives us the perfect opportunity to explore some of the finer dining options in the Tampa Bay area.
603 Channelside Drive
Tampa, FL 33602
Date: Feb. 14, 2014
The popular Yacht StarShip offers three cruises to make this Valentine’s Day unforgettable. The lunch cruise will feature a surf and turf, prix fixe menu of three courses, including sliced beef tenderloin, prawn scampi, parmesan mashed potatoes, haricots verts and a sumptuous dessert. Executive Chef Bob Barfield assures a high-quality meal for cruise goers. Although a bit more pricey, Friday night’s dinner cruise upgrades the experience with private tables, a live DJ and fabulous views of the city under the stars. For a luxurious treatment, the VIP section of this cruise includes an open bar. Finally, if booked to capacity on Friday, StarShip will also set sail with Valentine’s Day-themed cruises throughout the weekend.
The Westin Tampa Bay
7627 Courtney Campbell Causeway
Tampa, FL 33607
Date: Feb. 14-15, 2014 at 3:30 p.m.
A restaurant easy to overlook because of its placement inside a hotel, Aqua deserves a second look — if anything, for its location. Nestled next to the waters of Tampa Bay, the outside patio makes an ideal spot for a romantic dinner at sunset. Decadent decorations, such as a walk-in, translucent wine room and open kitchen layout, put a modern spin on the traditional seafood spot. On Valentine’s Day and the following night, Aqua will make a three-course “sweetheart menu” available for a relatively reasonable $100 per couple. In addition to the regular dinner menu, diners can also enjoy a tomato caprese salad, the choice of tile fish with scallop and leek risotto or spiced lamb and couscous and a triple chocolate red velvet cake served with Champagne. Other menu favorites include the filet mignon and prawns, accompanied by an extensive wine list.
4342 W. Boy Scout Blvd.
Tampa, FL 33607
In the middle of the Westshore shopping district, Roy’s provides an oasis of fine dining and exquisite drinks to a select clientele. Privacy and an accent on the fusion of different flavors mean this dining experience will be one to remember. Roy’s theme for Valentine’s Day is indulgence, a goal easily achieved by the night’s four courses and Chef Adam Hyatt’s attention to detail. The meal begins with a choice of cornmeal-crusted softshell crab, tuna nicoise green beans, duck confit, polenta and beef tataki, and that’s just for the appetizer. After, a variety of seafood-inspired salads await, in addition to a wide choice of entrées and desserts. Specialty cocktails and wines have been concocted to complement the meal. Prices range depending on which main dish you choose but it’s clear that refinement trumps value at Roy’s.
Arts & Eats Restaurant and Gallery
1114 12th St. W.
Bradenton, FL 34205
Date: Feb. 14, 2014 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
A newcomer to the Tampa Bay area, Arts & Eats has created quite a buzz since it opened last year. The restaurant was recently ranked number one on Trip Advisor for Bradenton, in addition to having reached the finalist stage of the Sarasota Herald Tribune‘s People’s Choice Awards for the best new restaurant in Manatee County. Chef Jim Copening likes to combine international flavors with traditional classics. Musicians Phil Piccione and Michael “Sparky” Edelstein will serenade couples on Valentine’s Day with an Evening of Love Songs. The three-course and champagne prix fixe dinner starts at 6 p.m. on Friday.
Cassis American Brasserie
170 Beach Drive N.E.
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
Imagine the ambiance of European cafes merged with the relaxed concept of “continental comfort cuisine” and you have Cassis American Brasserie. Located in downtown St. Pete, the metallic bar, mahogany wood accents and leather booths give Cassis the feel of another time and place. A large outside terrace brings a slice of Paris cafe chic to mingle with Miami Beach-style glamor. Generally, diners rave about the food, with special mention for the lobster and tapas-style small plates. For Valentine’s Day this year, Cassis will open at 4 p.m. Customers will have a choice of two prix fixe menus, either a $50, four-course meal, or a $65, five-course option, with some other classic menu items also available. While the exact details remain to be finalized, people seem satisfied by the value of past prix fixe promotions.
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Aaron Phillips has experience in marketing and journalism. Recently back to his hometown, he’s excited to discover and share what Tampa has to offer. His work can be found at Examiner.com.