Spring semester gets crazy quickly. There are assignments that are overdue and adviser appointments that need to be scheduled to discuss graduation. Through it all, significant others are expected to sway politely in the background, putting up with homework headaches, messy rooms and general chaos. They lay in wait, silently expecting you to pull out all stops come Feb. 14.
Alas, the day has arrived, and you have no restaurant reservation, gift or measly bouquet for your dearest darling. Fret not — A&E has found restaurants that don’t require reservations, so go take your neglected lover out on the town. This one’s on us.
For the Rocky Balboa and Adrian Pennino couple: Broders’ Pasta Bar
5000 S. Penn Ave., Minneapolis
For Rocky and Adrian, the perfect date restaurant has fuel enough for a heavyweight champion and refinement enough for a lady.
For the Italian stallion and his mare, Broder’s Pasta Bar is the quintessential romantic restaurant without the fussy and rigid atmosphere. Twinkle lights and well-groomed shrubbery set this oasis apart as a cozy neighborhood spot that attracts visitors from downtown and the suburbs alike.
In a dining room set up like a huge household kitchen, you can relax while you await the mounds of fresh pasta that will whet your appetite for romance. For Valentine’s Day, Broder’s will serve up a $30 per person set-price menu with an extra $20 for wine pairings. If you want to shorten your wait time, call an hour ahead of your arrival.
For the Juno MacGuff and Paulie Bleeker couple: Fasika Ethiopian Restaurant
510 N. Snelling Ave., St. Paul
Juno and her track-short-clad boy toy aren’t the type to get all dolled up for a Hallmark holiday. They’d prefer a spot where they can go, have a meal to remember and then go home.
Fasika is a delightful hole-in-the-wall that will blow your average date night out of the water without breaking your piggy bank. For $37 you can get the Ultimate Combination, a gargantuan sampling platter of beef, lamb, chicken and vegetarian dishes all served on Ethiopian Injera bread. Injera is spongy, tangy flatbread that serves as both a side dish and eating utensil for this meal, where forks are absent, but intimate moments for the quirky couple blossom.
For the Tom Hansen and Summer Finn couple: Tilia
2726 W. 43rd St., Minneapolis
We watch Tom and Summer fall in and out of love for 500 days. They go on dates in diners, bars and parks all over Los Angeles, but somehow we never get to see their courtship in the confines of a chic, romantic restaurant. In a restaurant-focused remake, Tilia is a “new American” eatery that dishes up classic, meat-focused meals with a touch of elegant sophistication, often involving a charred exotic vegetable or puree, which in foodie standards is about as hip as Zooey Deschanel’s vintage dress collection.
The modern decor at Tilia could at first seem cold as Summer’s heart, but once the food arrives, the passion and warmth of this Linden Hills locale is on full display.
For the Allie Hamilton and Noah Calhoun couple: Brasa Rotisserie
600 E. Hennepin Ave.,
777 Grand Ave., St. Paul
Present-day classics are hard to come by. Teenage girls everywhere will argue that the love story in “The Notebook” crushes the romance between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet, rivals the affair of Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler and doesn’t come close to the ultimate tryst of Romeo and Juliet.
Brasa, too, has a following of diehards that would rather eat at this low-key locavore cafe than at the fanciest, Michelin-star rated dining rooms in the world and with good reason. Brasa takes classic Southern dishes like creamed spinach and slow-roasted pork and serves them up with a touch so familiar and elegant they could grace the table of any Southern banquet à la the family of Allie Hamilton. However, in this no-frills environment, even pauper Noah would feel comfortable.