Restaurants, shops, inns gear up for Valentine's Day in Portsmouth

Sunday News Correspondent
February 11. 2017 6:10PM
The Library Restaurant in Portsmouth is always busy on Valentine's Day, as couples celebrate at the steakhouse, which was just named the most romantic restaurant in Portsmouth. (KIMBERLEY HAAS/Susnday News Correspondent)

PORTSMOUTH - There are a number of romantic places to celebrate Valentine's Day in Portsmouth.

Bruce Belanger, who owns the Library Restaurant on State Street, says Tuesday night will be one of the busiest nights of the year for them. The popular steakhouse was just named the most romantic restaurant in Portsmouth by Taste Magazine.

"It's actually great for business when Valentine's falls mid-week, as it is good for business the weekend before and the weekend after," Belanger said.

Chef Jesse Farrington will be making "Beef Two Ways," with a petite grilled filet and a braised short rib served with red beet roasties, mashed parsnip and glazed vegetables.

The dessert Belanger can't wait to try is the Double Chocolate Bomb, a chocolate molten cake with a liquid chocolate center, drizzled with chocolate and topped with fresh strawberries.

At The Franklin Oyster House on Fleet Street, Chef Matt Louis is celebrating aphrodisiac foods and has created a menu using avacados, artichokes, asparagus, peppers, pine nuts, pomegranates and chocolate.

Louis is also the owner of Moxy on Penhallow Street. He says they plan a "perfect pairings" menu for Valentine's, which includes peanut butter and jelly, milk and cookies as well as spaghetti and meatballs.

"We are having fun in the kitchen with our perfect pairings theme. It's a great day to get out, with or without a date. We'll make you feel right at home," Louis said.

Kilwins on Congress Street has all the chocolate needed for a sweetheart with a sweet tooth.

"We come in very early on Valentine's Day to dip hundreds of fresh strawberries, which are our number one best seller," owner Janette Desmond said. "Plus, we have lovely assortments of truffles in heart-shaped boxes that come in a huge range of pricing. We also have fun gifts like caramel apples decorated with hearts - those are favorites for the younger crowd and for friends."

Desmond said people of all ages shop at Kilwins.

"We have children coming in for something for their mom, and just the other day I had a gentleman who wanted something from our store since our logo is 'Kilwins, Sweet in Every Sense Since 1947,' and his Valentine was born in 1947," Desmond said.

At Flower Kiosk on Market Street, Betsy Scott says Valentine's Day is the busiest holiday of the year for them.

"We find that we are packing so much into a short time frame. Our designers are working super late hours to prepare for the next day, sometimes until 11 p.m. or midnight," Scott said.

The recent snow has added an extra challenge for flower delivery drivers, who have to battle mounds of the white stuff to reach recipients, but Scott said it is worth it.

"Nothing beats that smile on someone's face when you hand them a beautiful bouquet," Scott said.

Red roses are the biggest seller at Flower Kiosk and Flowers By Leslie on Islington Street.

"This is the craziest week of the year and we look forward to it!" Heidi Hamblett said at Flowers By Leslie. "Things do get a little kooky around here because we are so busy, but everyone is so happy who comes by and we are happy to take care of them."

According to the website for the Greater Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce, there are over 60 places to stay the night for those who want to relax and unwind on the Seacoast with their loved one. At Martin Hill Inn on Islington Street, they make red velvet pancakes for their Valentine's guests.

Co-owner Russ Levreault said they still have a couple of rooms at their bed and breakfast for the weekend after Valentine's Day.

"We do have rooms available for the day itself, showing that love may conquer all, but it has a tough time with a Tuesday," Levreault joked.

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