Skip the teddy bear and put down the baby's breath. Valentine's in 2022 is all about fine-dining, fancy snacks and park-perfect picnic hampers.
Here are 14 suggestions for celebrating on the 14th or thereabouts, both at-home or out and about in Sydney.
The Old Fitz, Woolloomooloo
Valentine's is an all-weekend event at The Old Fitz. Head chef Anna Ugarte-Carral's $75pp lunch and dinner menu (available Friday, February 11 to Monday, February 14) is perfect for sharing, and includes a dozen oysters, Txistorra sausage and fig and anchovy tart alongside ocean trout with greens and tomato butter. Plus a pair of single-serve raspberry trifles, because no one likes to share dessert.
129 Dowling Street, Woolloomooloo. Book via 02 8317 3057 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Rocker, North Bondi
Make it a beachy one this year with Rocker's $90pp romantic offering on Sunday, February 13 and Monday, February 14. Only the best local bread will do (Iggy's of course), plus Pommery champagne and oysters and caviar on arrival. Followed by grilled Queensland scallops with fermented chilli butter, plus your choice of main (Cape Grim Rib of beef on the bone or whole roasted John Dory with caviar) and a strawberry daiquiri to finish – because why not? They'll even have a red rose waiting for you at the table.
5/39-53 Campbell Parade, North Bondi. Book at thefork.com.au
Lilymu rocks an indoors-outdoors vibe in Parramatta's newest dining precinct. Photo: Edwina Pickles
Put an Asian spin on Valentine's with chef Brendan Fong's $110pp 10-course dinner on Monday, February 14 in the heart of Parramatta's newest dining precinct. Level up your prawn toast with foie gras and caviar, and delve into the spicy depths of mushroom mapo tofu and tom yum prawn dumplings. Add on options such as wagyu beef, Pacific oysters with nahm jim and finger lime if you're feeling fancy.
Parramatta Square, 153 Macquarie Street, Parramatta. Book at sevenrooms.com/reservations/lilymuparramatta
The Star, Pyrmont
It's all happening at The Star in Pyrmont. Fresh seafood at Flying Fish. An Amalfi-inspired meal at Cucina Porto. Sashimi and toothfish at Sokyo. Or wagyu with chimichurri at BLACK Bar and Grill. Or turn your outing into a romantic overnight staycation in one of The Darling's opulent luxury suites. Packages start at $794 and include breakfast at Sokyo, a $200 dining voucher, Bentley chauffeur service, and a bottle of Veuve on arrival.
80 Pyrmont Street, Pyrmont. Book at star.com.au/sydney/hotels-and-spa/summer-starcation/VVIP-darling
Boronia Kitchen, Gladesville
If a romantic rendezvous in the park is your ideal version of a dinner date, put your name down for a Valentine's picnic box for two from Boronia Kitchen. Each $190 hamper features a colourful array of dips and snacks: pea and coconut feta with house-made focaccia, Abrolhos Islands scallops, glistening smoked salmon and handsome charcuterie. Oh, and two sweet choc-cherry Davidson plum puddings to finish. Plus a bottle of Umberto Luigi Domenico Cosmo Prosecco, for a bit of bubbly fun. Not the picnicking type? A five-course tasting menu ($95pp) is also available for dine-in for dinner on Saturday, February 12 or lunch and dinner on Sunday, February 13.
Picnic preorders must be placed by 5pm on Friday, February 11. Pick up from 152 Pittwater Road, Gladesville on Sunday, February 13. Dine-in preorders must be placed by 6pm on Thursday, February 10. Order at boroniakitchen.com.au
Oxford Tavern, Petersham
V-Day has a distinctly pet-friendly theme at Oxford Tavern's "Furever Valentine's" celebrations. Bring your pals and pooches for a Sunday Funday pooch party on February 13. Expect doggo beer (made and canned in-house) and special menu items for furry friends. For the humans, knock back $12 cocktails and enjoy a $25 Sunday roast, available all day long.
1 New Canterbury Road, Petersham. Book at oddculture.group/whats-on/furever-valentines
Lamb collar with carob molasses, mujaddara and rose petals at Nour. Photo: Edwina Pickles
Executive chef Paul Farag's specially curated eight-course Valentine's feast ($129pp) mixes old favourites such as chicken bits shawarma and carob-glazed lamb shoulder with new creations such as Queensland king prawns and sujuk-filled bastilla. Feeling extra fine? Tack on some oysters with caviar and Arabian XO scallops to your order. Available for lunch and dinner on Sunday, February 13 and dinner on Monday, February 14.
3/490 Crown Street, Surry Hills. Book at noursydney.com
Hit the waterfront for a stunning seafood feast at Cirrus Dining ($220pp), featuring Flinders Island scallop with yuzukosho and daikon, and Aquna Murray cod with miso egg sauce. Really want to luxe things up? Kick off with some Sydney rock or Pacific oysters ($5-$6.40 each) and Black Pearl White Sturgeon caviar ($60). There's plenty of other V-Day action at Barangaroo, too, from the $149pp Valentine's special at BEA Restaurant, Barangaroo House to delicious Anatolian fare ($148pp) at Anason.
Barangaroo Avenue, Barangaroo. See cirrusdining.com.au/menus/valentines-day-14th-february, barangaroohouse.com.au/valentines-day or anason.com.au/valentine-s-day
Cherry sorbet at earthy and elemental restaurant Woodcut. Photo: Edwina Pickles
Crown Sydney, Sydney
Go sky-high this year at the new Crown tower, with classic Italian fine-dining at a'Mare. Chef Alessandro Pavoni has curated two menus: a $160pp Valentine's experience menu featuring veal cutlet alla Milanese, cappelletti filled with pecorino, and tiramisu served tableside to finish. Or level up with the $220 luxury experience menu starring coral trout crudo, egg spaghetti chitarra, and wagyu beef eye fillet Rossini with foie gras, truffle and marsala sauce. Prefer something more earthy and elemental? Try Woodcut head chef Ross Lusted's favourites menu, including caviar bites, chocolate skillet cake with burnt bread ice-cream, and cherry sorbet.
Shell House, Sydney CBD
Go all-out this Valentine's with a luxury "lobster and chablis" dinner at the brand-spanking-new Shell House Dining Room & Terrace. Coal-roasted southern rock lobster with Calabrian chilli and purslane served with potato buns is the star of the showstopping menu ($295pp), alongside polenta cacio pepe, coral trout crudo and cruller with whipped fish roe. Just a wee bit too pricey? Try the standard menu featuring lobster ravioli in shellfish butter instead – it's just as special and comes in at a slightly more affordable $195pp. Or keep things cool and casual at Sky Bar, with an impressive snack list and cocktails ($65pp) served with a side of live jazz.
37 Margaret Street, Sydney. Book at shellhouse.com.au
The Fenwick in Balmain East has waterfront views all the way to the Harbour Bridge. Photo: Edwina Pickles
Sydney Restaurant Group of Ripples and Fenwick fame cover every option for Valentine's, from dine-in options, to take-home and takeaway gourmet picnic hampers for the covid-cautious. See sydneyrestaurantgroup.com.au/whats-on-1/valentines-day and sydneyrestaurantgroup.com.au/srg-home-dining
Say it with seafood this Valentine's with a cooking class at Sydney Seafood School. This year's lesson for lovers is all about Singapore chilli mud crab but there are plenty of other options and vouchers available. Book at sydneyfishmarket.rezdy.com/439585/singapore-chilli-mud-crab. Or have a seafood feast delivered to your door with fishme.com.au, getfish.com.au or costi.com.au. There's even a special $135 Valentine's box for two available from manettas.com.au, with all the trimmings: oysters, one lobster with garlic butter and two scotch fillets (vacuum sealed and ready to cook). Top-shelf oysters more to your taste? It's hard to beat a tray of East 33 premium Sydney rock oysters. Order via east33.sydney
Make that sweet finish last longer at Alibi Bar and Kitchen (Ovolo Woolloomooloo) or Mister Percy (Ovolo 1888 Darling Harbour). The vegetarian venues are offering Australia's "most expensive dessert": an after-dinner treat garnished with a room key, so you can double your dessert and stay overnight. Available at Alibi Bar and Kitchen for $269 and Mister Percy for $199. Plus special cocktails and set meat-free menus for all you plant-based lovers. Details at ovolohotels.com
Pier One Sydney Harbour is also offering getaway packages that include a couples breakfast, turn-down service and sparkling wine plus romantic dining options such as a Valentine's hamper to enjoy in-room, a waterside picnic or fresh seafood fine-dining at Bar One. Book at pieronesydneyharbour.com.au/valentines