Valentine’s Day is this Sunday and you haven’t made reservations yet. Hey, I won’t hold it against you. These things happen. But don’t worry! If you’re hoping to spend some quality time with someone you really dig but need some ideas, I’ve got them right here for you, inspired by East Village and our neighbouring communities.
Mix and match these as you please for a whole day of hand-holding, cinnamon-heart-popping and overall indulgence.
1. Sunday Brunch Buffet at Fort Calgary
They take walk-ins but I’d say make a recommendation just in case because you don’t want to miss out on Fort Calgary’s local history and brunch combo. Your $27 brunch buffet (+any items off the kitchen menu; $15 for kids 5-12) gets you access to fresh fare from fruit, yogurt and granola to grilled shrimp, bacon, and an omelet station with truffle oil and crab amongst the toppings. Plus there’s a huge dessert table that was so laden with options when I visited for the first time in January that I wished I’d skipped dinner the night before. Bonus: You can tour the Fort Calgary museum for some culture after you eat; museum entry is included with the price of brunch. You’re going to need the stroll.
2. Get your Valentine a Valentine
Not that you’d leave such an important purchase until the last minute… but if you find yourself in need of a beautiful card or a trinket as a token of affection for that special someone, get yourself to either: Luke’s Drug Mart in Bridgeland, where they’re always stocked with artful cards and unexpected gift ideas; or to Market Collective, which runs all weekend long at the Chinese Cultural Centre.
And at the Simmons Building, climb to the second floor to see the valentines for sale as part of the Art From the Heart sale presented by create! In East Village. While you're there, pick up an "I heart East Village" button for good measure. It runs 10-3 p.m. Saturday.
3. Hot Chocolate and then a “winter” stroll through St. Patrick’s Island
The forecast Sunday says we’re up for a high of 7 degrees, which by my book is about the perfect temperature for a hot chocolate and a brisk — but frost-free — stroll. Try Phil & Sebastian’s hot chocolate, which is sweetened with dulce de leche; or visit Hear’s My Soul Café (535 8 Avenue SE) on the other side of East Village for a drink from their cozy split-level café; or trek over to Lukes Drug Mart in Bridgeland for their black tea-infused entry into the YYC Hot Chocolate Fest. Then take that hot chocolate for a walk through St. Patrick’s Island. Maybe you’ll stop to play on the playground, or follow the river pathway beyond the park and into Inglewood and beyond.
If you need a warm-up afterward, try a cocktail at charbar— chances are they’re completely booked for dinner, but you may be able to score a tipple in the afternoon. Other nearby cocktails to try before the dinner rush: Off Cut Bar in Inglewood and Cannibale in Bridgeland.
4. Prepare for Valentine’s dinner at home
Who needs a reservation when you can prepare a delicious meal at home with the person you love? At least, that’s what you can say when they ask you why you’re not dining out on Sunday…
Make Sunday dinner one to remember with a few quick stops for supplies. Visit Sidewalk Citizen Bakery in the Simmons Building and chances are you’ll be tempted to get one of everything. Their rich brownies are, in my opinion, a perfect dessert (or appetizer to accompany sparkling wine?), and they always have a variety of cakes available. Hey, grab one or two of their scrumptious salads and a loaf of bread, too. They’re open until 6 p.m. Sunday.
Next, head a few blocks south to Sunterra at the Keynote building where they’ve got just about everything else you need to round out the meal: raw or prepared seafood and meat, vegetables, plus a bakery and plenty of grocery items. Or, plan ahead and order their prepared Valentine’s meals (roast chicken or beef strip loin) for pick-up or delivery. They’re open ‘til 8 p.m. Sunday.
If you’re pairing drinks with your meal, slip over to 5 Vines, also at Keynote, where I’m sure they’d be happy to recommend a growler of beer from one of their taps or help you pick out some wine.
If there’s anything missing from your menu shopping list — or if you need some fuel after all that shopping — hit up Crossroads Farmer’s Market. Their vendors are open until 5 p.m. on Sunday.
Are you inspired? Is your heart a-flutter at the possibilities? Let me know if you end up taking on any ideas from this list by tweeting me or mentioning me on instagram, @zoeywrites. And if you share a pic of you and someone you like hanging out in East Village or on St. Patrick’s Island with the hashtag #LoveinEV, you get a chance to win one of five $100 gift cards to Merle Norman Cosmetics Studio. Get the full details on the contest at evexperience.com.
Happy Valentine's Day!