The new Lit Montly article for February! I tackle the age old question of "What can I do for my love on Valentine's Day that doesn't involve the same tired old last-minute roses and chcolates routine?"
A Variety of Vino Venues for Valentine’s Day
By Greg Holman
The coming of Valentine’s Day means grocery stores, drug stores, and street corners will soon be permeated with heart-shaped boxes of candy (of which 36 million will be sold this year), stuffed animals, sappy greeting cards with images of fat, little, winged cherubs, flying around shooting arrows into the butts of starry-eyed lovers, and red roses as far as the eye can see. Valentine’s Day is a time when we publicly recognize that we love someone who hopefully loves us back, even with our odd little personality flaws, foibles, and quirks. It still just amazes me that my wife Lisa puts up with me and all of my weird idiosyncrasies every single day of her life. Bless you my sweet. That’s what Valentine’s Day is truly about!
While the history of Valentine's Day and its patron saint are shrouded in mystery, the holiday contains elements of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition. One legend claims that Roman Emperor Claudius II, feeling that single men made the best soldiers, outlawed marriage, and a priest named Valentine defied the Emperor by continuing to perform weddings for young lovers, in secret. Another legend suggests that the priest actually sent the first "Valentine" greeting. While in prison, for performing said marriages, he apparently fell in love with a young girl who would visit him during his incarceration. He allegedly wrote her a letter which he signed "From your Valentine." Today, an estimated 141 million Valentine cards are sent each year, and approximately 85% of those are purchased by women in the Western World. Could this be one of the reasons Iran is currently trying to outlaw Valentine’s Day?
Since women are traditionally the more romantic sex of the species, it’s seems only fair that once a year, men are asked to step up to the plate and bring the goods. Cards, candy, and flowers are typical and expected. So, guys if you want to stand out from the “flowers and chocolates” crowd, try taking your beloved out for some enticing fare and a nice bottle of wine. And with red being the color of the day, it’s a great opportunity to slip into one of the many sexy wine bars that Dallas has to offer. Besides, a good Cabernet or Zinfandel goes great with dark chocolate… and dessert (wink, wink, nudge, nudge!).
Here are a few of my favorite vino venues…
Decanter - 408 N. Bishop Ave. #108, Dallas - (858) 756-9333 http://www.decanterrestaurant.com/
My current favorite is a new addition to the Bishop Arts District (taking over the old Café Madrid location). They serve a full menu with interesting flavor combinations and well-made innovative cocktails. A great value for the quality of food, service, and atmosphere.
The Grape - 2808 Greenville Ave., Dallas - (214) 828-1981 http://www.thegraperestaurant.com/
A Dallas tradition, known for their romantic setting, their cream of mushroom soup, and more recently, for their hamburgers (voted best burger in the state by Texas Monthly). The kitchen was taken over by chef/owner Brian Luscher in 2007, who has kept a number of the old menu favs and added some great new ones of his own.
Vino One Hundred - 2909 McKinney Ave. #A, Dallas (214) 969-9463 http://www.vino100dallas.com/
Primarily a tasting room, they serve a small but savory selection of Mediterranean tapas, after 5:00 pm. Wine offerings include limited production and artisan-crafted wines with at least 100 bottles available for $25 or less.
Cru’ - 3699 McKinney Ave. #107, Dallas - (214) 526-9463 http://www.cruawinebar.com/
With locations in Dallas, Houston, Austin, and Denver, Cru’s formula is a recipe for success. A great feel and look, with dark woods, wine barrels, and a wine label mural. The full dinner menu has something for everyone, with the most expensive items barely topping $20.
Mercy - 5100 Belt Line Rd. #544, Dallas - (972) 702-9463 http://www.mercywinebar.com/
An upscale wine bar with a full multi-course menu. One of the more romantic atmospheres. Lots of candles and draping fabric. A fairly modest selection of the grape for a wine bar, but definitely some gems.
Times Ten Cellars - 6324 Prospect Ave., Dallas - (214) 824-9463 http://www.timestencellars.com/
An actual wine making facility, Times Ten Cellars has locations in Dallas and Ft. Worth. The wine menu is comprised of all their own product and their “small plates” menu includes cheese and meat plates, dips, and desserts. You can also order in from several nearby restaurants if you’ve got a bigger appetite. Feels a bit like being in a Napa winery.
With these sultry, swanky, sophisticated options, you should be able to break out of the everyday Valentine’s Day rut, and romance the one that’s willing to be seen in public with you, even knowing all of the weird, twisted, disturbing stuff that you do in private. Happy Valentine’s Day!