By Laura Carson Miller

Ah, Valentine's Day. It’s known for hearts and candy and "smoochy" stuff, by and large. What’s more, it’s fast approaching, so what should you do? If you aren’t in a love-type relationship, you might be wondering how you can whip up a fun celebration for family or friends without breaking the bank. Don’t fret: we've got you covered.

To get a handle on designing festive and inspiring non- traditional Valentine's Day décor, I consulted local designer Erika Ward, Owner/Principal Designer of Erika Ward Interiors (Check out her gorgeous blog, BluLabel Bungalow).  She suggests hosting a restaurant dinner party, an idea I found fresh and fascinating. “Head over to the city of Decatur," Ward Southern Living ranked it in the Top Ten Tastiest Towns! No matter your budget you can make any diner or dive feel like a swanky establishment.”  Erika recommends sites like Pinterest (follow Flavors' pin boards for our favorites) to offer inspiration with tablescapes covering everything from showers to retirement parties. "Incorporate a few of your favorite ideas for creating a special table décor for your occasion," she adds.

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 Here are a few of Erika’s recommendations for making your non-traditional Valentine’s Day dinner party a hit.

1. Brand Your Event

Set the tone for the evening with printed party menu for each guest. Be sure to include your party’s theme on the header. Provide printed place cards or use handwritten ones for a more casual feel. Ask if the restaurant would do this as a courtesy. The one pictured at left is from Sparrow Nest Script on Etsy


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2. Candlelight

Everyone looks great when illuminated by the flicker of a candle’s flame. Gather candlesticks from your home and purchase unscented pillars or votive candles from your local discount store. Depending on the length of your table, choose anywhere between 6-12 candles. Or, for a fancier look, place votives in lanterns like the one pictured at right, from I.O. Metro. 


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3. Floral Accents

Fresh cut flowers in a simple glass vase are a floral arrangement that can make even an amateur look like a pro. Be sure not to use flowers with a heavy fragrance, as it may compete with the aromas from the food. Succulents (like the one pictured at left) are another great option and favorite of those looking for a more modern aesthetic.


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4. Favors

Send your guests home with a treat, which will keep them talking about your event long after they say goodbye. A particular favorite is a sweet and salty confection like the P2C2 bar from PureFections, pictured at right. It’s a chocolate, caramel, peanut and potato concoction that will further the love/hate relationship with your treadmill, but it's worth every bite. Locally in Atlanta, Cacao makes some wonderful, bespoke truffles and chocolate bars. 


Happy Valentines Day, one and all!

Laura Carson Miller is a freelance lifestyle writer for magazines and the web. Learn more here.  
 
 
By Teresa Tobat

From French wine  to Valentine’s Day celebrations, see what our friends have to offer you in the coming weeks.

Domestic Wines Face Off Against Burgundy In Wine Tasting
Aspens Signature Steaks West Cobb will present a “USA vs Burgundy” wine tasting on February 8 at 7 p.m. Hosted by Quality Wine & Spirits and Wine and Spirits Consultant at Quality Brian Keenan, participants will sample a variety of domestic and international wines. Tickets are $25 per person. To make reservations, call 770/419.1744. Wine tasters will receive 20 percent off dinner at Aspens Signature Steaks.

2942 Shallowford Road
Marietta, GA 30066
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Feast on Moroccan Cuisine at Imperial Fez for Valentine’s Day
Add some spice to your Valentine’s Day dinner by heading to Imperial Fez to enjoy its special prix-fix menu. For $45 per person, enjoy a five-course dinner complete with soup, salad, an appetizer, a choice of a main course including Cornish hen, roasted lamb and tilapia, couscous with seven vegetables, and a dessert featuring a pastry and Moroccan mint tea. For $65 per person, enjoy an “Welcome Drink Shot to the Heart,” soup, salad, an appetizer, choice of baked quail, baby lamb chops or baked tilapia served with a side of vegetable couscous. For dessert, feast on a pastry, mint tea and one glass of Champagne.

For more information, please visit www.imperialfez.com.

2285 Peachtree Road NE
Atlanta, GA 30309
404/351.0870

High Museum’s Valentine’s Day Fete
Art lovers and their significant others can head to the High Museum for a romantic, art-filled night. Attendees can view the museum’s exhibitions “Picasso to Warhol: Fourteen Modern Masters” and “The Art of Golf,” while sipping Champagne and enjoying music and dancing. Additional activities include a couples’ photo booth, swing dancing and more.

The event is from 6 to 10 p.m. Tickets are $25 per person and $40 per couple. For more information, please visit high.org or call 404/733.5000.

1280 Peachtree Street NE
Atlanta, GA 30309

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Israeli Chef Brings Taste of Jerusalem to Atlanta
Israeli master chef Uri Navon of the famed Machneyuda Restaurant in Jerusalem will share his culinary expertise with the Atlanta public. Navon will be a guest chef at this year’s Atlanta Jewish Film Festival opening night on Feburary 8. Navon also will teach two cooking classes at Hal’s Kitchen in Sandy Springs on February 9 at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. For more information about Hal’s Kitchen, please visit www.halskitchen.com.

Hal’s Kitchen
206B Johnson Ferry Road
Sandy Springs, GA 30328
404/847.6991

MARKET’S Brunch With Benefits
Celebrate the joys of being single at MARKET’s Brunch With Benefits. Attendees can head to the restaurant on February 12 to enjoy MARKET’s brunch menu, $14 bottomless Bloody Mary’s and mimosas as well as music by DJ Hakim. The event is from 12:30 to 4 p.m. Reservations are strongly recommended.

3377 Peachtree Road NE
Atlanta, GA 30326
404/523.3600
www.marketbuckhead.com

Nancy G’s Leap Year Wine Dinner
Consider celebrating this leap year with an all-Italian wine dinner Nancy G’s on February 29. Attendees will enjoy a Pinot Grigio reception wine, followed by white-bean minestrone soup served with a Chianti. Then, participants will feast on a chicken cacciatore entrée paired with a Ottone 1 Barbera wine and can finish off the night with a cannoli paired with a Moscato. Dinner starts at 6:30 p.m. and costs $35 per person, plus tax and gratuity.

For more information about Nancy G’s, visit http://nancygscafe.com.

4290 Roswell Road, Suite 55
Atlanta, GA 30342
404/705.8444

 
 
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By Teresa Tobat

The most romantic holiday of the year is less than two weeks away, and maybe you’ve got the flowers and cards under control, but might not know what local restaurants are serving the best cuisine for your and your significant other. For a truly memorable night filled with fine food and a cozy setting, consider dining at one of the choices below. Tune in to Flavors NOW next week for part two of this list, featuring additional restaurants that will be hosting special dinners for Valentine’s Day.

Alma Cocina
Head to Alma Cocina on February 14 for lunch or dinner and enjoy your Mexican food knowing that 20 percent of your bill goes toward Atlanta’s Table—Atlanta Community Food Bank’s prepared and perishable food rescue project. Atlanta’s Table has been collecting prepared perishable food from Atlanta’s hospitality industry and delivering this food to more than 40 metro Atlanta nonprofit partner agencies since 1987.

191 Peachtree Street NE
Atlanta 30303
404.968.9662
www.alma-atlanta.com

Aqua Bistro
For Pan-Asian cuisine and a tropical-themed dinner, consider heading to Aqua Bistro for a five-course fixed meal. Pick a soup, salad, and enjoy appetizers including crab cake with mango salsa and teriyaki beef stick. You'll have a choice of salmon, pineapple chicken or coconut shrimp as your entrée and top the night off with a choice of butterscotch banana run cake or flame-fried coconut ice cream. The fixed menu is $80 per couple or $40 per person. The regular menu also will be offered.

264 Pharr Road NE
Atlanta 30305
404.816.7332
www.aquabistroatl.com

The Cook's Warehouse
If you’re thinking about crafting a tasty treat (or even an entire meal) for your special someone, consider brushing up on your cooking skills at The Cook’s Warehouse. Starting on February 4, the school's various locations around town will be offering a variety of courses ranging from how to make macaroons to courses for couples looking to cook a meal together. For more information, please visit www.cookswarehouse.com.

The Feed Store
The Feed Store will be serving its regular menu featuring stand-out Southern plates like sweet grass gouda grits and sweet potato waffles along with special dishes including oyster gratin, whole lobster and lamb.

3841 Main Street
College Park 30337
404.209.7979
www.thefeedstorerestaurant.com

Hal's Kitchen
For those looking to improve their cooking skills and show off for a loved one, consider taking Hal’s Kitchen’s Valentine’s Food and Wine Feast class, offered on both February 13 and 14. During this session, you’ll learn how to make dishes ranging from lobster brandy risotto to death by chocolate. The Valentine’s class is $99 per person. This cooking school also is offering a variety of other romantic-themed courses. For more information, please visit www.halskitchen.com.

206B Johnson Ferry Road
Sandy Springs 30328
404.847.6991
www.halskitchen.com

Ecco
Ecco will be serving its regular seasonal menu with specials including scallops and salmon roe, wood-roasted beef filet, celery root custard with black truffles and chocolate torte with lavender shortbread crust.

40 7th Street NE
Atlanta 30308
404.347.9555
www.ecco-atlanta.com

La Tavola Trattoria
Enjoy a three-course prix fixe dinner featuring Italian cuisine for $49 per person. Pick an appetizer with options including calamari and quail. Next, select an entrée with dishes ranging from roasted golden tilefish to ricotta gnocchi. Finish you night with dessert choices ranging from brunt orange ricotta cheesecake to lemon olive oil cake.

992 Virginia Avenue NE
Atlanta 30306
404.873.5430
www.latavolatrattoria.com

Market Buckhead
Market is serving a five-course prix fixe dinner menu for $65 per person from February 11 to 14. Diners will start the evening by feasting on tuna tartare, a choice of warm oysters or salad. Next, they can enjoy entrées range from slowly cooked salmon to grilled lamb chop. Dessert options include warm chocolate cake or rose macaroon with vanilla parfait. Wine pairings are available for an additional charge.  

3377 Peachtree Road NE
Atlanta 30326
404/523-3600
www.marketbuckhead.com

Nancy G.'s
This café will be serving a special menu with starters like lobster bisque and endive and spinach salad. Main courses include Maine lobster served with a loaded baked potato and vegetable medley as well as grilled lamb chop accompanied by root mashed potatoes. To top off the evening, consider coffee cheesecake or white chocolate bread pudding—and you can even pair your meal with a Valentine’s-themed cocktail like a chocolate-covered cherry martini.

4920 Roswell Road, Suite 55
Atlanta 30342
404.705.8444
http://nancygscafe.com

Ray's at Killer Creek
February 10 through 14, Ray’s at Killer Creek is offering a special prix-fixe menu for couples, as well as their regular dinner menu. Guests will each choose a starter, salad and soup and share the entrée course of red wine braised Wagyu short rib with porcini sauce, jumbo shrimp and scallops, lobster mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus, as well as chocolate truffles for dessert. The featured cocktail is “Your Kiss on My List,” made with Finlandia Wild Fruit Vodka and cranberry juice shaken over ice and served in a martini glass with a dollop of raspberry sorbet. The cost is $120 per couple.

1700 Mansell Road
Alpharetta 30004
770.649.0064
www.raysrestaurants.com/raysatkillercreek/

Southern Art
Nosh on a four-course prix fixe menu featuring Southern-inspired cuisine for $55 per person. Enjoy a cauliflower bisque or garden green salad, and then dig into your choice of fried green tomatoes or clams. Next, feast on grilled beef tenderloin or pecan fried catfish. Finish the night off with buttermilk chocolate cake and a complimentary Champagne toast. Add wine pairings for an additional $25. All female diners receive a rose. Southern Art also will be serving its a la carte menu.

3315 Peachtree Road NE
Atlanta 30326
404/946-9070
www.southernart.com


South City Kitchen Midtown
Feast on a three-course prix fixe dinner for $39.95 per person with a variety of plates to choose from. Appetizers include pimento cheese, fried green tomatoes, seared scallops, and more. Main dishes range from buttermilk fried chicken to seafood Jambalaya. Finish your meal with a choice of pudding, cheesecake-bread pudding, chocolate ganache torte, ice cream, or sorbet.

1144 Crescent Avenue NE
Atlanta 30309
404.873.7358
www.southcitykitchen.com/midtown

South City Kitchen Vinings
Enjoy a three-course fixed menu for $39.95 per person at South City’s Vinings location. Pick from a variety of appetizers including she-crab soup, grilled oysters and smoked fresh bacon. Entrees include Atlantic red grouper, Low Country shrimp and grits, as well as smoked duck breast. To conclude your night, choose from apple red velvet cake, chocolate sticky toffee pudding and strawberry shortcake.

1675 Cumberland Parkway SE
Atlanta 30080
770.435.0700
www.southcitykitchen.com/vinings

Tantra
Give your taste buds a true treat with entrée options like chili seared yellow fin tuna and pomegranate braised beef short rib. Finish the night off with a dessert choice of panna cotta, crème brulee or warm white chocolate cake. The three-course menu is $55 per person.

404.228.7963
2285 Peachtree Road NE
Atlanta, GA 30309
http://www.tantraatlanta.com/

The Original El Taco
Thinking you might want to add some spice to your Valentine’s Day dinner? Then considering going to this restaurant. You and your date can enjoy $4 pineapple- infused tequila shots, share a basket of tacos, sip on a Mexican Coke float, and more at this Mexican haunt.

1186 N. Highland Avenue
Atlanta 30306
404.873.4656
www.eltaco-atlanta.com