By Caryn Coyle
The Chameleon Café
Hours: Tuesday to Thursday 5 – 9 p.m.; Friday to Saturday 5 – 10 p.m.
For the most romantic of all days, why not try a restaurant that is “passionate about food?” The Chameleon Café specializes in seasonal, farm fresh dishes. Located on Harford Road, the Chameleon offers an intimate setting for a dining experience that has been described as the best in Baltimore. Though seasonal means just that, a selection at the time of this writing included appetizers of fried green tomatoes with goat cheese, bacon and basil. Or corn chowder with potatoes and sausage. The Chameleon’s entrées range from Steak Diane to braised pork cheeks and sweetbreads.
Hours: Sunday to Monday, Wednesday to Thursday 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.; Friday to Saturday 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.; open Valentine’s Day
The well-known Greektown restaurant, which is usually closed on Tuesdays, will be open for Valentine’s Day. Ikaros has a raised section off one of its main dining rooms where the tables for two are especially appealing. Add to that the belief of Ikaros’ Xenos Kohilas that cooking is an art, and your Valentine’s Day meal will be exceptional. The restaurant is owned and operated by the Kohilas family from the Greek island of Ikaria. Authentic Greek dishes abound, such as spinach and feta cheese pie, kalamari or braised lamb. For dessert, Ikaros makes its own kataifi, shredded wheat stuffed with walnuts and honey, and baklava, with walnuts, filo and special syrup.
Hours: Monday to Thursday 11:30 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Friday 11:30 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.; Saturday 5:30 – 9:30 p.m.; Sunday 11:30 a.m. – 7 p.m.
The fieldstone building, named for the author of “Paradise Lost,” John Milton, is more than 270 years old. The Milton Inn has been a coach stop for Quakers, a school for boys (including John Wilkes Booth) and a private residence. In 1947, the building, located in northern Baltimore County, was transformed into an inn where it has “engendered a legacy of romance, and numerous couples have become engaged in its candlelit dining rooms.” With a wine cellar that is considered to be one of the best on the East Coast, the Milton Inn offers a celebrated menu by the 2011 Chef of the Year, Brian Boston. Appetizers include Oysters Rockefeller and entrées range from venison to duck breast, and wild mushroom phyllo, to Seafood Andor, lobster, rockfish, jumbo lumps of crabmeat, mussels and shrimp in a creamy dill sauce.
In a building that dates back to 1799, Peter’s Inn, in Fells Point, may have operated as a speakeasy during prohibition. Small and intimate, Peter’s Inn changes its menu weekly and it has won several awards for its outstanding cuisine. From oyster stew to “not quite French onion soup” with caramelized onions, bacon, and parsnip, there are also tuna nachos, seared day boat scallops, and spinach and cheese ravioli. Peter’s Inn makes its own Belgian chocolate pot du cream.
Hours: Sunday to Monday 5 – 9 p.m.; Tuesday to Thursday 5 – 10 p.m.; Friday to Saturday 5 – 11 p.m.
Step into La Famiglia in Canterbury and romance surrounds you. The northern Italian cuisine is complimented by an inviting lounge and a sleek, yet intimate, dining room. La Famiglia offers an appetizer for two, Antipasti Caldi per due, a selection of shrimp, mussels, clams, escargot, calamari. The entrées include pasta, poultry, meat and seafood such as spaghetti ai frutti di mare, with mussels, clams, shrimp, calamari and scallops tossed in homemade marinara sauce or agnello scottadita, roasted lamb chops infused with rosemary, lemon juice and garlic served with mashed potatoes.
Caryn Coyle lives in Baltimore. Her fiction and non-fiction have been published in more than a dozen literary journals and the anthology City Sages: Baltimore (2010) from City Lit Press.