My wife and I may not be Jewish, but that doesn't stop us from celebrating Valentine's Day as a Jewish holiday. We skip all the restaurant horror stories that make their way around the Internet after the 14th, and we have our V-Day "seder" after sundown on the 13th.
Not all restaurants are guilty of these sins, and precious few are guilty of all of these sins, but do yourself a favor: If you find a restaurant that doesn't fall into any of these categories, keep it to yourself, lest the insane crowds find, neutralize and kill your secret Valentine's romantic hangout.
1. Premade food
Look, it's no secret that most of the food in any restaurant is made beforehand, during prep time. Very few things are actually prepared à la minute
because it would take forever. That said, there's a difference between last-minute assembly and having huge sheets of food languishing in the walk-in after being made on the 11th or 12th--or earlier. It won't taste as fresh because it won't be
2. Premade menus
The only way a restaurant can cope with the massive influx of people who are determined to make this night perfect is by limiting the offerings. Even with a choice of two starters, two mains and two desserts, the kitchen will find itself dans la merde
, which means the food will be picked not principally for its gustatory qualities, but for its ease of preparation in the kitchen. Even if those two goals are not mutually exclusive, it means everyone in the room has to settle--and woe betide you if you've got allergies, aversions or are vegetarian and forgot to let the restaurant know weeks in advance, then again on the confirmation call, then again upon being greeted by the captain.