Celebrate Love This Valentine’s Day with Tasting Experiences from Bay Area Restaurants

It is said that love will find a way, an irrepressible force that will not be subsumed by Covid-19. So we looked around for experiences where a duo might hold hands over (or under) the table, out in the real world and at home. As ever, our choices support local businesses and our community. Please confirm with each establishment their most current dining availability and operating hours.

Ghiringhelli’s Novato Vino, Novato

Date Night Surf & Turf

Photo courtesy of Novato Vino

Turn any night into a Valentine’s celebration with a range of menu options at Novato’s Novato Vino. Small bites like lobster sliders or a signature flatbread topped with wild mushrooms and goat cheese are easily paired with a glass of wine from the international wine list. And the Date Night Surf & Turf, the New York steak cooked as you like it, the garlic prawns napped in lemon butter, makes for a classic take on a classic holiday.

West Coast Wine and Cheese, San Francisco


Photo courtesy of West Coast Wine and Cheese

Valentine’s Day falls on a Sunday this year, making it the best year ever to snag a hot table for brunch. Though West Coast Wine and Cheese’s Mill Valley space remains closed, they are accepting reservations for dining at their new parklet in San Francisco’s Cow Hollow neighborhood. Chef Callan Borelli (Petit Crenn, Cotogna) designed a welcoming menu of steak and eggs and avocado toast with prosciutto but the “secret” order is the so-called Mimosa Special, a glass of Petillant Naturale of 2020 Gamay Noir from Hollyhock Lodge in Santa Barbara. “It drinks like a well-made mimosa,” says owner Chris Wanner.

Jillie’s, San Anselmo

Wine and Chocolate Pairing

Photo courtesy of Jillie’s Wine Bar

Though in-person experiences will not be available at the shop on Valentine’s Day, there will be chocolate! Look for chocolates paired with champagne such as an R.H. Coutier Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne and a bag of Godiva dark chocolate ganache hearts.

Hanson, Sausalito

Valentine’s Cocktail Kit

Caviar tasting kit; photo courtesy of Hanson

With in-person tastings likely delayed until March at its Sausalito and Sonoma tasting rooms, Hanson will be doing virtual cocktail making classes, pairings and kits. Available for delivery or curbside pickup, Hanson’s Boysenberry Rose Cocktail Kit includes Hanson Original Vodka, recipes, cocktail-making ingredients, two engraved Hanson coup glasses and Kollar chocolate truffles.

Proper Patio, San Francisco

St. Valentine’s Tea and Tasting Dinner

Photo courtesy of Proper Patio

A new covered patio in front of San Francisco’s Proper Hotel brings the indoors out for onsite restaurant, Villon. It is the place to experience a special edition of their afternoon tea (in-person only), featuring caviar bites, mini sandwiches and chocolates as well as hot cocoa bombs. Placed in a china cup, these bombs “explode” to reveal marshmallows and hot cocoa mix. Stay (or order takeout) for chef Jason Fox’s five course tasting menu, including spot prawns with hazelnuts and herbs and duck with quince and chestnut honey.

Folktable, Sonoma

Fried Chicken Picnic

Photo courtesy of Folktable

Chef Casey Thompson put together a special menu just for the day that is designed for a picnic from this new restaurant within Cornerstone Sonoma marketplace. Lay out the included blanket, then pop the cork on a bottle of bubbly while nibbling on Passmore Ranch caviar (with set-up) and mini biscuits. Finish with hot chile-honey fried chicken and quick-pickled cucumbers. After all, a bird this finger-lickin’ good is best enjoyed in the great outdoors.

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Christina MuellerChristina Mueller is a long-time Bay Area food writer. She hails from the East Coast and has spent way too much time in South America and Europe. She discovered her talent as a wordsmith in college and her love of all things epicurean in grad school. She has written for Condé Nast Contract PublishingSunset, and the Marin Independent Journal, among others. She volunteers with California State Parks and at her child’s school, and supports the Marin Audubon SocietyPEN America, and Planned Parenthood. When she is not drinking wine by a fire, she is known to spend time with her extended family.

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