What’s not to love about Valentine’s Day? Pretty much everything - overpriced cards, tacky teddy bears, office workers taking your eye out on a packed bus as they transport their already half-dead bouquet of roses home, bad set menus, and restaurant staff trying to rush you through your shared medley of mini-desserts because they need the table back for the next sitting. If you're in a situation where Valentine’s Day just needs to be done (new relationship, rare offer of babysitting, making an 'effort'), we’re here to steer you in the right direction, with restaurants that will make you feel all the love, without the ick-factor.
The best place for new couples:
L’Gueuleton, Fade St
The first Valentine’s Day together can be a bit of a landmine. Sure your new love has told you they don’t want a fuss and to just book whatever you want, but how to strike a balance between scaring them by going OTT and disappointing them by hoping they’ll be okay with a toasted sandwich in Grogan's? Under two candy-striped canopies on Fade Street, you’ll find L’Gueuleton, perfect for when you want of rustic French charm without too many bells and whistles. The menu is bistro-style with lots of classics like French onion soup and short rib bourguignon, and there are plenty of dark corners to hide in.
The best place when you don't care what date it is, you just want seasonal food:
INK Café, Dún Laoghaire
Valentine’s Day falls on a Friday this year so expect restaurants to be even more packed than usual. The first of INK in Dun Laoghaire’s seasonal supper clubs of 2020 also falls on Friday the 14th, and their 6-course Spring Harvest Dinner sounds like a very civilised way of passing the evening. Priced at €52.83, tickets are available here.
The best place when you want something quirky:
Lilliput Stores, Stoneybatter
After a seasonal break, Lilliput Stores reopens in the evenings in mid-February, just in time for Valentine’s Day. The menu of snacks, cheese and charcuterie boards, and shared plates eaten in the cosy artisan grocery store alongside many beautiful bottles of wine is basically our definition of romance.
The best place to eat with your galentines/palentines:
Da Mimmo, North Strand
If your version of love is being surrounded by your friends and lots of carbs, head to Da Mimmo for an Italian feast. The restaurant is small inside and you’re always within eavesdropping-distance of personal conversations, so Valentine’s night won’t feel any different. Plus, if you’re not going to be kissing anyone you may as well go heavy on the garlic.
The best place if you're going to propose and want everyone to know about it:
Shanahan’s, St. Stephen’s Green
Yes, we’re cynics when it comes to Valentine’s Day but, if you’re going to propose on Feb 14th (and we can’t talk you out of doing it in public), you may as well do it somewhere that’ll look great on your Instagram stories. Shanahan’s may set you back a month’s worth of mortgage/avocados (delete as appropriate), but it will make for a memorable night, and the steaks really are very good.
The best place if you can't get a babysitter:
Rascals Brewery, Inchicore
Getting a babysitter on Valentine’s night is difficult enough, but add in the fact that it’s also a Friday and you might find your options are limited or non-existent. On that basis we suggest heading somewhere child-friendly so the whole family can feel the love. You may not want to bring your kids on a brewery tour (or you might - we won’t judge) but Rascals Brewing has an on-site pizza restaurant that’s exceptionally child-friendly. It’s also right next to Gravity Climbing Centre, so you can all head there afterwards to burn off some steam.
The best place for a belated Valentine's:
Gursha Supper Club, North Circular Road
If you want to mark the occasion, but won’t be able to spend the 14th with your loved one, Gursha has some availability for their Ethiopian Supper Club on March 12th, 19th, 20th and 21st (but they're selling fast) so you can postpone your night out to a time when Valentine’s day is a distant memory, and the last of the reduced Lindor heart truffles have been removed from supermarket shelves. Tickets are €25 per person and available here.
The best place when you just want great food:
Bistro One, Foxrock
We’re a little bit in love with the food at Bistro One in Foxrock and so would happily brave the hordes of couples who will descend on its white-linened tables on the 14th to fight for the barbequed line-caught mackerel and a piece of that salted caramel tart.
The best place when the date went really well:
Union 8, Kilmainham
If the date went well and lasts into the next morning, you may as well grab some brunch to replenish your energy. Union 8 has a varied brunch menu with decent cocktail offers, and is right near Kilmainham hospital and IMMA if you want to drag the date out even longer.