Melissa Elsmo

“My best advice to people planning a Valentine’s Day date is not to take it too seriously;” laughs Chef Michael Spiewak of The Heritage in Forest Park, “its best to use the holiday as nothing more than a lighthearted  excuse to go out with someone you care about.”

Spiewak considers the most romantic meal of his life the very first meal he cooked for the woman he would eventually marry. He made a home-grown beet salad, bucatini all’Amatriciana , and braised chicken with porcini mushrooms.

Now, after successfully wooing his wife (with beets of all things) and nearly 10 years in the restaurant business, Spiewak knows how to navigate a proper Valentine’s Day meal. Collaborating with fellow Heritage chef, Sieger Bayer, also helped bring The Heritage’s 2019 Valentine’s Day menu to life.

In the past, the seasonally driven restaurant has offered different menu formats for special occasion evenings, but settling on a prix fixe for New Years Eve drove the chefs’ choice to embrace a set menu format on February 14th.

“We are looking to give our guests the best experience possible,” says Spiewak, “and offering a set menu shows people the meal will be a special occasion experience.”

Chefs Bayer and Spiewak are enticing couples to trust them with their Valentine’s Day celebration by offering a four course dinner with optional supplemental courses and beverage pairings. The Heritage’s Valentine’s Day menu offers dishes to honor the traditional trappings of the holiday while still being true to their own cooking style. 

Oysters find a place on most Valentine’s Day menus thanks to their rumored aphrodisiac qualities and The Heritage is no exception. While offering the  lovey-dovey bivalves bows to tradition, Spiewak and Bayer put their own twist on the dish. The oysters on the Valentine’s menu will be served roasted and creatively dressed with pancetta, seaweed, and rosemary. 

Even humble veggies like will get all dressed up for the special evening at the Heritage. Pureed into velvety soup, cauliflower, is complemented  the smoky espelette pepper, fine crispy shallot threads, and a generous lobster garnish. 

Spiewak is especially pleased to offer all guests raclette and potato gratin with caramelized onions for the second course. Served family style, the rustic dish will offer lovebirds a shared, hands-on, dining experience. The gratin, made from Swiss melting cheese, is designed to be served with bread from Publican to be used for dipping. 

“Its a sort of homey riff on fondue,” says Spiewak, “but still hearty enough to be enjoyed on a cold winter night.”

Optional menu upgrades are available for people “really looking to go all out” according to Spiewak. Both foie gras and caviar will be available for interested parties who’d like to select one or both.

The beverage pairing menu ($35 per person) is non-traditional and features beer, cider, wines, and cocktails.

“We kick off the meal with a beer pairing,” says General Manager Jeff Wilson, ” and finish things off with a Black Manhattan paired with a devil’s food cake.”

While Wilson is excited about the pairing offerings, he indicated guests can work with their servers to customize beverage pairing to their personal tastes (prices may vary based on selections).

The Heritage will offer seatings at both 5:30 and 7:30 on Valentine’s Day and anticipate serving 80-100 guests. The chefs were conscious of the fact Valentine’s Day falls on a Thursday this year and hope the early seating will allow parents of young children to enjoy a romantic meal and still be home in time to relieve a babysitter early on a school night.

Interested parties are encouraged to make a reservation as the evening is expected to sell out. 

Cheers to love and letting The Heritage play cupid this year.

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