Valentine's Day wasn't invented to increase February restaurant traffic, but as chefs will tell you, it really helps. What else is likely to fill tables on a weeknight in one of the gloomiest months of the year?
With 36% of adults planning to mark the holiday this year with an evening out, according to the National Retail Federation, it's obvious that restaurants will be crowded. If you plan on going out but haven't made reservations, call your favorite places to see what's planned. And if you're stuck for an idea, here are just a handful of Valentine's week features at some of the area's best-known spots.
• At the Root in White Lake Township -- the 2012 Free Press Restaurant of the Year -- chef James Rigato is offering seven special Valentine's Day dishes in addition to his regular and tasting menus. Added selections include black truffle risotto with foie gras sauce ($18) and a classic surf-and-turf ($39) of all-natural Michigan beef filet and roasted Maine lobster tail. Reservations: 248-698-2400.
• Gastronomy: A Modern American Bistro in Southfield will suspend its regular menu on Valentine's night and instead offer two chef-designed Tasting Menus for Lovers -- six courses for $65 and eight for $85, plus tax and gratuity. Reservations: 248-864-4410.
• Coach Insignia atop the Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit will offer a four-course Sweetheart Menu at $120 per couple, plus tax and tip, on Valentine's night. The entrée is surf and turf -- two petite filets and two jumbo prawns. A limited à la carte menu also will be available. Menus:www.theepicureangroup.com. Reservations: 313-567-2622.
• Birmingham's Big Rock Chophouse features a three-course Valentine's Day menu over three nights, Feb. 14-16. The meal begins with a sparkling rosé toast and offers entrée choices of red miso glazed salmon, medallions of beef with challah pain perdu and Miller Farms Amish chicken. It's $40 per person plus tax, tip and valet. Reservations: 248-647-7774. Menu atwww.bigrockchophouse.com.
• Morels in Farmington Hills plans a special five-course Lovers Feast menu Feb. 15 and 16, with an entrée of USDA Prime tenderloin with lobster bread pudding. A vegetarian choice is available for each course, including a cheese-and-spinach ravioli entrée. The meal is $40 prix fixe plus tax and gratuity; optional wine package, $30. Specify the Lovers Feast when making reservations: 248-254-3840.
• At Wolfgang Puck Steak at the MGM Grand Detroit, guests can choose entrées of grilled rib eye steak with cognac mustard sauce or grilled Atlantic salmon with lemon, tarragon and lobster sauce, in a three-course Valentine's Day prix fixe menu priced at $65 per person. Reservations: 313-465-1644.