February 14 2006, 11:14 AM
It's nice for couples to have traditions. And though I'm running the risk of going overboard on the sappy scale, hubby and I make Valentine's Day an annual event. We don't go crazy with the chocolates or equally sugary cards; we simply go out to dinner at the same place every year. One our very first romantic dates -- actually, I'm certain it was our very first real "date" -- was at Potager, a great little restaurant in Capitol Hill. So we return every year and it's always wonderful. (Okay, gettin' a little sentimental now.) If you haven't made plans for tonight yet, that's not a problem. Potager doesn't take reservations, so you can just show up and wait. Be prepared to wait for a while, in fact. Diners tend to savor their meals, and tables don't turn very quickly, so the tiny bar area gets crowded quickly as people squeeze into the waiting area and snag every available bar stool. (They even allow you to put your name on the list and go around the corner to the Park Tavern to wait as long as you check back in regularly. The ambience at the Park doesn't exactly scream "date night" but it offers seating, at least.) But it's all part of the experience. By the time you're seated you'll be two drinks deep, nicely relaxed, and ready to hog your own table for as long you like. The menu changes seasonally, using the freshest (often organic) ingredients available. But I always save room for the rich, creamy chocolate pudding, one item that always seems to be in season.