Treat Your Sweet to Some Eclectic Eats 

Valentine's Day food specials around town

Steelhead mousseline with lobster sauce at The Modern.

Laurie Pearman

Steelhead mousseline with lobster sauce at The Modern.

Valentine's Day menus usually boast some cliched combo of aphrodisiacs--oysters, truffles, saffron, chili pepper, chocolate. But since Feb. 14 is also one of the restaurant industry's busiest days--second only to Mother's Day--the packed seats give chefs the creative flexibility to craft some truly unique specials.

One of this year's more off-beat Valentine's offerings is Bittercreek Ale House's duck hearts.

"Our butcher just has a hard time wasting stuff, so he's been saving these duck hearts because he personally thinks that they're great," said Beverage Manager David Roberts.

Bittercreek will tap a keg of New Belgium's oyster stout and Rogue's double chocolate stout to pair with the skewered, spicy duck hearts. Next door, Red Feather Lounge is offering a four-course menu--$50 for two people or $28 for an individual--including blood orange-poached crab dumplings and slow roasted beef tenderloin with pink peppercorn butter.

The Modern Hotel is serving a four-course Valentine's menu for $65 per person, including steak tartare, beet ravioli with black trumpet mushrooms, seared duck breast with celery root hash and steelhead mousseline with lobster sauce, plus a cocktail, gratis.

Modern Chef Nate Whitley describes the seafood mousseline as a "sort of fish sausage."

"It's a variation where we're using steelhead, a little bit of cream and egg, and pureeing it, so it just becomes smooth," he said.

Café Vicino Chef Richard Langston is whipping up a few V-Day seafood specials, including a yellowtail crudo with local Meyer lemon sauce, chilies and slaw, and a unique entree.

"I've just started working with this new Hawaiian fish called Monchong; it's this really awesome deep-water fish, kind of in the tuna family," said Langston. "It's got great flavor and great texture so I'm just going to grill it and do a puttanesca sauce with it."

Those looking for a less traditional date environment can check out Archie's Place's six-course pop-up dinner hosted at Pre Funk Beer Bar. Including cracked pepper potato soup with roasted cherry tomato pistou, blood orange herb salad with goat cheese, and stout-braised beef and onions with manchego polenta. Tickets are $40 per person and include beer pairings from Payette Brewing.

Boise Art Museum is taking pop-up dining even further with a four-course, vampire- and werewolf-themed dinner catered by Cacicia Cucina's Old World Sicilian Foods called Love Bites. Tickets are $60 for BAM members and $75 for nonmembers, and must be purchased by Monday, Feb. 10.

The menu includes deep-fried ravioli, a mixed green salad with raspberry vinaigrette and a curried carrot soup. Cacicia's Shane Anderson said the ravioli will sport two dots of marinara, a la vampire bites. For the main course, he decided to keep it simple: charbroiled beef tenderloin layered over fingerling potatoes with a rosemary reduction.

"We stuck to meat and potatoes and just tried to dress it up; make it look sexy. But none of the food will be sparkling, unfortunately," said Anderson, in a Twilight jab.

Looking for something sweet that's still offbeat? Alavita is offering a dessert pasta featuring housemade chocolate ravioli with orange-cardamom mascarpone filling, a chocolate drizzle and fresh berries.

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