Say “Valentine’s Day” and certain restaurant names can’t help springing to mind. But for those with a lust for something off the beaten tastes, here are some places that dish out love with every gutsy bite. Just don’t forget it’s a busy month, so make your reservations earlier rather than later.
1141 Davie St.
Hidden away in a heritage house on Davie Street, Mis Trucos is easy to miss, but it’s worth the hunt, for what awaits you inside is a culinary wet dream. Chef Kris Barnholden’s inventive three-bites-large tapas range from the frothy foie gras mousse ($3.20) to the hedonistic wild venison tartar on toasted brioche with truffle and slow-cooked quail’s egg ($3.70). Larger plates include the perfectly cured arctic char with smoked caviar ($9) and the white truffle and lobster risotto with crème fraîche ($16). For dessert, try the poached pear with almond financier ($6) or Manchego cheese plate, and then go home before you eat too much.
117 West Pender St.
Feb. 14 marks the start of the Year of the Tiger, as well as Valentine’s Day, and Wild Rice is celebrating both in its typical, Zen, modern Chinese way. Most plates are made to share, but specialities like the Fraser Valley lamb pot stickers with truffled pea puree ($10), or the pan-roasted Haida Gwaii sockeye ($19) might cause fork-fights. Or you can choose the special four-course Year of the Tiger menu for $40 and feast on tiger-stripe sui mai, tiger rolls, and tiger beer-marinated bison flat iron steak. Wild Rice has always been a dairy-free establishment, so there are many options for vegans and their lovers as well.
Au Petit Chavignol
843 East Hastings St.
There isn’t much in this world that screams “lust” more than Au Petit’s chicken liver and cognac terrine with apricot preserves ($9). Well, maybe the raclettes, or the fondues, or the pâtés, or the freshly-shaved slices of Iberico ham … you get the idea. Pair a selection of fresh bread, soft cheeses and rich terrines with anything off the wine list (they’ll do anything by the glass if you order two) and smear, wipe and chew to your mouth’s content. For something hot, try the luscious croque madame. For light eaters, Au Petit is offering a special Valentine’s menu, $40 for two people, which includes soup or salad, cheese fondue for two, and warm chocolate cookies for dessert.
3689 West 4 Ave
On the western edge of West 4 Avenue sits the tiny Italian trattoria that serves up tremendous flavours. With a menu that changes weekly, the only constant is the mouth-watering quality of each dish, and the care with which it is prepared. Gorgonzola soufflé with walnut sauce ($11), spaghetti with smoked pork cheek ($12) and chocolate bunet ($8) are a few things to save space for, or you might want to dine ‘alla famiglia’ and have either five courses for $40 or nine courses for $59, all based on what’s made fresh that day. The nine-course option includes their made-to-order risotto.
Les Faux Bourgeois
663 East 15 Ave
Small, dark and often noisy — this may not sound like an ideal Valentine’s spot, but appearances can be deceiving. This honest little bistro churns out some of the most authentic, rustic French fare in the city, at prices that will keep both your heart and wallet happy.
Don’t miss the caramelized onion puff pastry tart with crème fraîche, ricotta and lardons ($10) or the Toulouse sausage with mashed potatoes and fig compote ($16). With over a dozen reds by the glass and almost as many whites, you can mix and match all night long, before finishing with the lemon cream tart ($6).