Restaurants, gifts and activities for a more memorable Valentine’s Day in Toronto
Planning a perfect Valentine’s Day in Toronto can be a challenging task—particularly if your idea of a great date includes dinner, gifts and perhaps even some complementary activities. It’s also not good enough to reserve a table at any old restaurant, or to offer up any old bouquet of roses. Thus, we’ve rounded up a selection of dining rooms, boutiques, venues and entertainment options to help make your romantic evening a little more unique. Be sure to book what you can in advance to help ward off disappointment on the special day!
UNIQUE VALENTINE’S DAY DINNERS
One of the city’s more uncommon Valentine’s meals actually takes place in advance of the big day: On February 12, The Stop Community Food Centre hosts a romance-inspired dinner in its intimate greenhouse. Part of the charitable organization’s Food for Change series, the four-course prix fixe is $75, or $120 with wine pairings. Likewise, the Toronto Zoo invites lovebirds to discover the elaborate mating rituals of the animal kingdom while enjoying a romantic dinner. The evening ($80, or $150 per couple) also includes a “special animal encounter,” which we’ll leave to your imagination.
If you prefer your themed dinners with an even more precise focus, Bloordale café and bar (and occasional restaurant) The Steady offers a conceptual five-course repast ($40) following “the stages of a relationship” and featuring both meat and vegan options. A trio of romance- and relationship-themed mini lectures is also scheduled in between the 6 and 8:30 p.m. seatings.
And, of course, numerous other dining rooms across Toronto are planning their own fixed-price menus on February 14. For intimacy, it’s hard to top Cabbagetown’s homey Italian fixture, F’Amelia, boasts a five-course menu ($75) featuring some of its most savoury dishes. Or if you’d rather take comfort in a crowd, Drake One Fifty offers an indulgent four courses ($80) soundtracked by one of the restaurant’s resident DJs. Had enough of Valentine’s Day before it’s even begun? Join the conscientious objectors at the west-end location of The County General to partake in its three-course anti-Valentine’s spread ($45).
UNIQUE VALENTINE’S DAY GIFTS
Forget flowers! Get your beloved something longer lasting—and eminently hipper—from the Drake General Store. Among the shop’s V-Day-ready knick knacks are an anatomically correct crocheted heart brooch, heart-laden t-shirts and under garments, and quirky cards. A more classic selection of gifts for him and her is available—believe it or not—from new Ossington Avenue bridal boutique LoversLand, including a pair of cheekily monogrammed “You wash, I’ll dry” tea towels and a vintage “spread love”-engraved butter knife. And sweet treats are always desirable: Nadège Patisserie macarons are available for a limited time in some very apt packaging featuring designer Matthew Del Degan’s iconic LoveBot.
A UNIQUE VALENTINE’S DAY ON ICE
Skate off your dinner—or just expend all that pent-up energy—at Harbourfront Centre’s Natrel Rink. The lakeside ice sheet’s Valentine’s eve DJ Skate Night features five of the city’s hottest queer DJs, who’ll spin dancehall and hip hop at a chill, inclusive outdoor party.
A UNIQUE VALENTINE’S DAY UP IN THE AIR
What could be more memorable than giving your partner a sky-high experience, viewing the city from a private chartered helicopter? On February weekends, the fly guys at Toronto Heli Tours open their hearts and offer discounts on both their 15- and 35-kilometre tours above Toronto.
A UNIQUE VALENTINE’S DAY AT THE THEATRE
An evening of entertainment is a great way to ensure your date doesn’t fizzle out prematurely—unlike, say, Don Giovanni, whose Mozart-scored seductions and subsequent downfall are dramatized by the Canadian Opera Company. A modern musical classic is arguably more appropriate for starry-eyed couples as Once returns to the Ed Mirvish Theatre. And a strong woman steps into the spotlight in The Heart of Robin Hood, which reimagines the English legend from the perspective of Maid Marion.
Seeking something a little racier? Head to the Gladstone Hotel‘s annual Be Mein Valentine, an evening of cabaret-style debauchery featuring more than a dozen burlesque performers from Toronto troupes Skin Tight Outta Sight and Boylesque T.O., Canada’s only all-male burlesque revue.
And if you’d rather just sit in a darkened room and commiserate with some of Hollywood’s more notable outsiders, the TIFF Bell Lightbox is happy to oblige. On Valentine’s Day the downtown film centre unspools an Outcasts and Misfits Movie Marathon, featuring screenings of Napoleon Dynamite, Submarine, Dazed and Confused, Heathers, and Moonrise Kingdom.