By Kerri Adams, Editor-at-Large
With less than two weeks until Valentine's day, you may be quietly (or not so quietly) panicking about what to do to impress your favorite lady or gent.
If procrastinating has not produced the miracle idea you have been praying for, don't feel ashamed. 46% of people start shopping for a gift in early February, so you are not alone.
But, nothing to fear Foodable reader! We are here to guide you on how to avoid the fight and grab the best bite.
Check out the video below where people in Miami's Wynwood share their past Valentine's Day experiences, featuring the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Nonetheless, Valentine's Day should be all about love and creating memorable experiences.
"People don’t always get what they want on Valentine’s Day, and that’s because most people shop for their significant others without the input of that person. Most often, people receive candy, chocolate and cards on this heartfelt holiday, when what they really want is an evening out or an experience," writes "Entrepreneur."
So without further ado– here are some dos and don’ts to consider when planning your dining experience.
Don't Try to Make a Reservation the Day Of
If you are reading this today, it's best to start researching options now. 34% of consumers eat out on February 14th making it the second busiest day of the year for restaurants.
So if you have a place in mind, it's time to call, check out the restaurant's website or OpenTable to make a reservation.
If you can't make the reservation at the restaurant you were hoping for, you can dry run some that Valentine’s Day charm to see if they will put you on a wait list. It's likely that there will be a reservation that opens up due to cancellations. Even so, don't count on this as your primary strategy. If you want that special someone to be your valentine, you’ve got to have a Plan B so be sure to make a back-up reservation elsewhere.
At this stage of the game, it’s probable that the time you were hoping for may be already taken. If so, consider doing an early or late dinner and plan a romantic themed interlude that may or may not involve either cocktails, food, moonlight walk or a horse drawn carriage ride.
Also, Valentine's Day plans don't necessarily have to be a surprise. In the book of love, it helps to be on the same page. Feel out your date’s epicurean desires and preferred restaurant types first before making that reservation.
Do Try to Get the Best Table
When making your reservation mention on the phone or in the comments section that you would like a table with a view. When you arrive, reiterate this preference and tip the hostess in advance.
The restaurant may not be able to accommodate your request, but most people don't even think to ask, so it's worth the try.
Don't Look at the Menu the First Time While at the Restaurant
A lot of restaurants have a pre-set menu for Valentine's Day, the day before or the weekend after. Typically there is an abridged selection available and/or the menu items may be pricier than you expected.
Make sure there is something you and your date will want on the menu first before even booking. If you and your sweetheart have regularly fortified your passion for each other over the restaurant’s amazing pasta carbonara in the past and it's not on the menu when you sit down on Valentine's Day, this could lead to mood-killing disappointment.
If you do have your heart set on a favorite dish that doesn't appear to be on the special menu, call ahead and ask if it can be made available that day. The restaurant may be willing to accommodate you.
Do Plan the Foodie Experience from Start to Finish
Like we said, getting the ideal reservation time may not be easy. But if your bae is a foodie, masterfully planning the experience from start to finish will satisfy more than just their culinary cravings.
Don't let the term "planning" scare you. The plan can be ridiculously simple, like grabbing some pre-dinner cocktails at a nearby bar or cozy lounge.
Also, keep a secondary after dinner location in mind so that if the dessert at the restaurant doesn't entice them, you can tempt them with alternatives such as a frozen nitrogen ice cream place or artisan bakery close by.
Don't Pay Attention to Your Smart Phone
Once you are at the restaurant, it's time to put that smart phone away. Valentine’s Day is all about deepening the connection with the one you love. Perhaps make it a rule that phones aren't allowed at the table, except for of course for photo documentation of the dishes when your food comes out.
If your date seems to be the one with the phone addiction, politely mention that all you really want for Valentine's Day is their undivided attention during the dinner.
Do Note Dietary Restrictions Upfront
If you or your honey prefer gluten-free or have other dietary restrictions, its best to make sure ahead of time that the menu has appropriate options available for you. Also, include dietary restrictions in the comment section of your reservation and be sure to mention this upfront to your server.
So there you have it Foodable friends, we’ve fed you all the dos and don’ts to plan the perfect date for the foodie in your life.