Full hearts, full tum­mies on Valen­tine’s Day

GA Voice - - Sex & Dating -

Valen­tine’s Day, that an­nual re­minder of our love or lack thereof, is about to grab us by the throats again. Here are a few restau­rants where you can cel­e­brate with your beloved— or with other love­less friends who have agreed to im­per­son­ate a harem of your sex slaves.

I re­cently ate at this Vir­gini­aHigh­land main­stay for the first time in many years and had a ter­rific ex­pe­ri­ence. The re­strained am­biance is just about per­fect for a lovey-dovey meal. You get golden light and acous­tics that don’t make you re­place con­ver­sa­tion with across-the-ta­ble tex­ting.

Love can be con­fus­ing and some­times dif­fi­cult. But Chef Ian Winslade’s cook­ing is un­com­pli­cated and clear in its fla­vors. A good ex­am­ple was my choice of Guin­ness­braised brisket over mashed pota­toes, topped with some green beans. Horse­rad­ish gen­tly spiked the fla­vors. An­other op­tion: a grilled salmon steak with win­ter-squash risotto and pick­led-beet emul­sion. Desserts are less im­pres­sive, but you can walk across the street to Paolo’s to im­merse your face in the pure plea­sure of su­per-creamy gelato.

Mur­phy’s:

(997 Vir­ginia Ave., 404-872-0904, www.mur­physat­lanta-restau­rant.com)

Madre + Ma­son:

I’ve dined three times at this new restau­rant opened by Calavino Donati and Do­ria Roberts, a mar­ried cou­ple who have re­cently moved Ur­ban Can­ni­bals in East At­lanta Vil­lage to Mid­town. Donati ear­lier op­er­ated the much-missed Ro­man Lily.

Madre is a fu­sion of Latin and South­ern fla­vors. For ex­am­ple, Donati’s turkey meat­loaf (fa­mous at Ro­man Lily) is a hearty por­tion sea­soned with poblano pep­pers atop mashed pota­toes, un­der a jalapeno gravy. Don’t worry. It’s not very spicy. My fa­vorite starter is the slightly-sour fried tomatil­los, served with a chipo­tle aioli. Killer dessert: a fat slice of pecan pie topped with caramel-driz­zled vanilla ice cream.

(560 Dutch Val­ley Rd., 404-7481498, www.face­book.com/MadreMa­son)

The Lu­mi­nary:

Noth­ing says love like French brasserie cui­sine. Lu­mi­nary is my fa­vorite spot in the Krog Street Mar­ket. It’s kind of noisy, but not un­bear­ably so. There’s a raw bar, so you can feast on oys­ters, fa­mous as an aphro­disiac (and thus good for long-term cou­ples who have lost sex­ual pizazz). The menu here is French-Amer­i­can, so you can start with pork rinds with ranch dress­ing or a wal­nut-lentil pate with can­died gar­lic and toast. My fa­vorite en­trée is the clas­sic, but­tery steak-frites—a hanger steak with fries. I also like the crepe with braised lamb neck, lentils, and puréed car­rots. (99 Krog St., 404-6006199, www.the­lu­mi­nary.com)

El Su­per Pan: Want a fun, com­par­a­tively in­ex­pen­sive meal? Head to Ponce City Mar­ket and check out Su­per Pan. My long­time fa­vorite is the Cuban-in­spired Medio Dia, a pressed sub­ma­rine stuffed with adobo-roasted pork, chichar­rones (crispy pork skin), clove-baked ham, Swiss cheese, chay­ote pick­les, and pineap­ple­ha­banero mustard. It’s re­ally like putting love in your mouth.

(675 Ponce de Leon Ave., 404600-2465, www.el­su­per­pan.com)

A few cau­tions: You should call for reser­va­tions be­fore you show up at a restau­rant. Valen­tine’s Day is on a Sun­day this year, so brunch will be an op­tion at some places. Some restau­rants may have spe­cial Valen­tine’s Day menus.

Cliff Bo­s­tock, PhD, is a long­time At­lanta food critic and for­mer psy­chother­a­pist who now prac­tices life coach­ing for cre­ative types; 404-518-4415.

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