With a blank on my calendar for February 14, I’ve been dropping hints to my boyfriend that he needs to start planning something romantic for Valentine’s Day – and pronto. Either he hasn’t heard me each time or he’s been studiously ignoring me in the hopes that I’ll, as usual, take over the task.
His instincts are correct, though. I’ve learned that I (and my palate) usually end up happier when I pick the restaurant when we go out. Fortunately, Richmond has many excellent establishments for enjoying a romantic dinner together on Valentine’s Day or on a date night. They encompass elegant décor, gorgeous views, impeccable service, and, of course, delicious cuisine. Here are five restaurants that would make for the perfect dining experience for you and your Valentine:
Located in the Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel (Vancouver International Airport, 3111 Grant McConachie Way), Globe@YVR is a gorgeous restaurant featuring high ceilings, sleek furnishings, and floor-to-ceiling windows with spectacular views of the terminal and the North Shore mountains. The kitchen focuses on refined Pacific Northwest cooking that showcases fresh, local ingredients. The restaurant is also a part of Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise Program that promotes sustainable seafood. Starters include dishes like seared scallops with black truffle, asparagus, roasted cauliflower, and toasted pine nuts. Haida Gwaii sake miso sablefish, with bok choy, king oyster mushrooms, daikon, and ginger dashi broth, is a lovely item as well. Go for their local Black Angus 10 oz ribeye with pont neuf potatoes, honey glazed baby Tokyo turnips, and a choice of peppercorn béarnaise or a natural reduction, if you’re wanting to slake your hunger.
This Valentine’s Day, Globe@YVR is co-hosting a special dinner with Painted Rock Estate Winery from Penticton. It promises to be a fabulous night of food and wine. Upon arrival, you’ll receive a welcome cocktail and a kusshi oyster with strawberry gin gel. After, you’ll move onto a wine-paired five course dinner that features dishes like hot smoked steelhead with foie gras ganache (paired with the 2015 Chardonnay) and coffee crusted beef tenderloin with lobster, and truffle hollandaise (2014 Red Icon). The family from Painted Rock will also be at the dinner to speak about the various wines. Tickets are $129 per person (plus tax and tip) and includes parking. A discounted room rate of $199 is also available for diners as well. To book call 604-207-5200 to reserve.
Pier 73 Restaurant
Pier 73 (Pacific Gateway Hotel at Vancouver Airport, 3500 Cessna Drive) is waterfront dining at its very best. The Fraser River, Mount Baker, the Cascade Mountain Range, and the North Shore Mountains are all before you as you sup on the restaurant’s stellar farm to table cooking. The restaurant has an inviting contemporary feel, heightened by floor-to-ceiling windows for unparalleled admiring of the location. Executive chef Morgan Lechner and executive sous chef Edison Antejos foster connections with family owned producers to maximize the quality and flavours of their creations. The menu ranges from first bites, like sturgeon crab cakes with lime aioli, chipotle relish, and Tuscan greens, to elegant mains, such as line caught ling cod with black barley risotto, octopus chorizo, black olive purée, fennel, and preserved lemon vinaigrette.
The entire month of February will be Pier 73’s ‘month of luuuuv,’ during which they’ll be creating and serving dishes for sharing, inspired by the romance of February 14.
For them, ‘luv’ entails ordering a bottle of wine for two, as well as a bunch of these share plates, most of which you can eat with your hands (the restaurant suggests feeding your sweetie by hand if you want to go over-the-top romantic).
‘Sea & Land’ options include a refreshing dish of chilled prawns with lemon pepper aioli and cocktail sauce; BC ling cod with Kalamata olives, pico de gallo (salsa fresca), watercress, and extra virgin olive oil; and a 6 oz. flat iron steak with radish, watercress, and red wine sauce.
For accompaniment, order a couple of the ‘vegetable & starch’ sides, like roasted cauliflower with citrus mignonette and lemon pepper aioli; or roasted steamer potatoes with bacon, green onions, parmesan, and sour cream. And end with a dessert, like warm chocolate fondant or blueberry pear crisp. You’ll be feeling the food ‘luv’ in no time!
gudrun tasting room
This just slightly under the radar gem in Steveston has all the elements for romance. It’s an intimate space (once an art gallery and office) of quirky minimalism, with concrete accents, chic pendant lights, and reclaimed wood. The name gudrun (150-3500 Moncton Street) comes from a young woman who owner Patrick Tubajon befriended and became roommates with in Avignon, France, in the 1980s. She helped him fall in love with fine cheeses and inspired him to open a restaurant that celebrates the fresh and the local.
On any given date night, expect a selection of cheeses and charcuterie, accompanied by assorted fruits, nuts, and preserves. Chef Paul Finlay crafts a different menu each night, with changing sandwiches, soups, salads, and more substantial mains (e.g. slow cooked pork with puy lentils, celery root, cipollini onions, and pork jus). His inspirations are the seasons and the food available nearby.
Each visit is an homage to lovingly crafted and sourced food. Besides the dishes, the other star is the well-curated wine and beer list, which features local pours, like the Phillips’ Longboat Chocolate Porter and the Kettle Valley 2011 Gewürztraminer.
The restaurant also periodically holds very popular Dinner Club events that involve six or seven course meals ($70-75 per person, plus beverages, tax, and gratuity). Guests are seated together at long tables, allowing for much conversation and conviviality. A special Valentine’s Day Dinner Club is being held, with a few spots potentially remaining. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 604-272-1991 for more info.
This establishment, situated on the third floor of the River Rock Casino Resort (8811 River Road), offers an elevated, fine dining approach to eating out. Tramonto‘s dining room is modern, with great views of the Fraser River and the River Rock Marina.
Come here if you want to treat you and your sweetie to attentive, polished service, as well as classic, yet inventive cuisine that highlights the fresh bounty of the local. Sous chef Omar Abdel Hadi cultivates strong relationships with nearby producers and food artisans to elevate his food with the best ingredients.
The food is wonderfully decadent, beginning with a seafood platter for two that includes a lobster tail, scallops, prawns, Alaskan king crab, Salt Spring Island mussels, manila clams, and citrus butter sauce. If you’re feeling like splurging, the menu also features Canadian Divine sturgeon caviar, served with blini and traditional garnish. Also for couple sharing is the gargantuan Tomahawk chop, a 2.5 lb. certified Angus beef long bone rib chop, served with forked sieglinde potatoes with Applewood smoked bacon, and scallion and sour cream peppercorn sauce. A lighter option would be the olive oil poached wild BC salmon with buttered pea tortellini, fennel jam, and smoked salmon foam. The extensive wine list spans the globe, highlighting both old and new world offerings.
Blue Canoe Waterfront Restaurant
The Bayview Pier in Steveston Village is truly one of my favourite places to visit in the Lower Mainland. A stroll around the area, followed by dinner close by, makes for an incredibly romantic date. Blue Canoe (140-3866 Bayview Street) boasts unobstructed sight-lines of Fisherman’s Wharf, the boardwalk, and the shimmering water. This unbeatable setting is matched by a menu that offers simply prepared, ingredient forward dishes. Chef Sean Greenlay sources locally and as sustainably as possible, primarily from Richmond farms and suppliers.
Start with wild salmon sliders with ginger mayo and pickled slaw and then move onto mains, like seafood paella or a 6 oz grilled striploin steak, accompanied by quinoa salad with creamy cilantro dressing. Choose from seasonally available fresh fish, such as sashimi grade albacore tuna, which is served with local veggies and the starch of the day.
From February 11 until Valentine’s Day, the restaurant is offering a special three-course menu that begins with a choice between oysters Rockefeller; a chilled seafood cocktail with snow crab claws, langostinos, sambal mussels, and tangy cocktail sauce; and a ceviche featuring coconut milk-marinated albacore tuna, lime, cilantro, avocado, and crispy plantain chips.
Next, you can select between pan-seared sea scallops, with crab maltaise sauce, bacon, a scallion potato cake, and kale; an 8 oz certified Angus beef tenderloin with crab hollandaise, Canoe mash, and a grilled beefsteak tomato with balsamic glaze; and lemongrass crusted halibut with truffle mushroom cream, buttered beans, and roasted potatoes.
Chocolate mocha pot de crème and New York cheesecake with strawberry coulis are on the menu for dessert. Frankly, it sounds incredible!
Whichever restaurant you select for Valentine’s Day or for your next date night, you’re sure to have an unforgettable evening of food, drink, and, of course, the best of romantic company!