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Valentine’s Day calls for something different: roses instead of tulips, champagne instead of bordeaux, a candlelit dinner in a sweet little bistro instead of a robust rib eye at a noisy steakhouse. But you know that. The question is: Where will you be wining and dining your love this year? We looked around the country — and north of the border, for our Canadian friends — in search of Valentine’s Day restaurants that are singular, charming, and endearing. New Orleanians have been cozying up to one another at Galatoire’s (504-525-2021) for decades. The food may not be the absolute best this epicurean city has to offer, but the scene is. February is the wet season down in Bayou Country, and what better place to escape to, with its rich Creole cooking, expert waiters, and fanciful Bourbon Street architecture, than Galatoire’s? Out on the Left Coast, Chez Panisse (510-548-5525) is as representative of the San Francisco Bay Area as Galatoire’s is of the Big Easy. Alice Waters’ fabled Berkeley restaurant continues to serve great food while dishing out all the Northern California atmosphere you could ask for in a stunning arts-and-crafts house setting. Up Canada way, there’s Canoe (416-364-0054), with its spectacular view from atop Toronto’s Dominion Centre. The wine list is well chosen. It’s also cheap, at least if you’re paying for the tab in U.S. dollars — and the food is extremely good. Should you and your love want to climb the culinary mountain Chicagoland-style, the peak is surely Everest (312-663-8920), where chef Jean Joho reigns over a dining room fit for a king. The food is grand, the setting is grand, the wine list is grand. What’s not to like? Boston’s frigid February melts before the soul-warming French country fare of chef Gordon Hamersley. His Hamersley’s Bistro (617-423-2700) is actually a rather fancy restaurant, but the setting is cozy and oh-so-inviting, and so’s the food. New York is, of course, New York, and so there is much to choose from. Jean Georges and Daniel, Lespinasse and Bouley Bakery are the big names. But none is as romantic as La Grenouille (212-752-1495), with its displays of cut flowers, glittering chandeliers, and refined French cooking; and few are as homey and welcoming as Montrachet (212-219-2777), where nonpareil wine director Daniel Johnnes has fashioned a supremely great burgundy list. For Manhattan traditionalists, there will always be La Caravelle (212-586-4252). Owners Rita and Andre Jammet have kept this great restaurant jewel-like — it was one of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ favorites. From the expert French waiters to the glorious murals and well-appointed dessert carts — there is charm aplenty here.

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