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Sure-Fire Sparks

The pressure’s on for the perfect date, particularly around Valentine’s Day. Here are some foolproof, out-of-the-ordinary ideas to make your crush fall head over heels.


REEL LOVE
The gig:
Movies in the Loft at Bin 36, 339 N. Dearborn St.; 312-755-9463. On selected Sundays, Bin 36’s second floor transforms into an intimate movie theatre and shows crowd-pleasing flicks like Sideways and The Jerk. No popcorn and Milk Duds here; this typically sold-out event offers moviegoers an impressive spread of cheese and fruit, followed by a three-course dinner with wine pairings. Tip: Arrive early to score a cozy couch-for-two up front. Info: Check www.bin36.com for the schedule and to purchase tickets ($48 per person).

HOME SWEET HOME
The gig:
Romantic dinner for two by Fig Catering, 773-793-1035 or info@figcatering.com. A romantic, home-cooked meal can be a hassle—unless someone else cooks it. Fig Catering chefs collaborate with clients to set the mood and customize the menu for the perfect night in—whether an Italian-themed dinner reminiscent of a Tuscan honeymoon, or a nine-course tapas blowout for Spanish food aficionados. Tip: Splurge on a couple’s massage before or after dinner by a massage therapist who partners with Fig ($95 per hour). Info: Fig chefs will go anywhere in the Chicagoland area; dinners range from $85 to $150 per person depending on the menu.

ADULTS ONLY
The gig:
Drinks at Violet Hour, 1520 N. Damen Ave.; 773-252-1500. Never has a night out drinking been this sophisticated. Wicker Park’s Violet Hour conjures up a sultry, speakeasy vibe with stylish décor and expert bartenders shaking up  cocktails—like the 41 Jane Doe’s, made with applejack, raw egg whites, and a secret ingredient called Grandma’s tinksure. Silence that cell phone and give in to the romantic nostalgia. Tip: Lines at Violet Hour are long on weekends; arrive early or go on a weeknight. Info: Old-fashioned cocktails will set you back $11 each.

AFTERNOON DELIGHT
The gig:
Brunch at David Burke’s Primehouse, 616 N. Rush St.; 312-660-6000. Admit it: Waiting in weekend brunch lines with the disheveled masses who just rolled out of bed sucks the romance out of even the most perfect pancake. Make a reservation at the swanky James Hotel for a midmorning feast that begins with real-fruit smoothies or all-you-can-drink mimosas ($10). The signature omelet with filet tips is the most popular item, and fill-your-own doughnut holes with tiny squeeze bottles of caramel, vanilla, and cherry filling are the most fun.Tip: Dress to impress—jeans are acceptable but not typical among this classy crowd. Info: Brunch is served Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

HANDS ON
The gig:
Cooking class at A Tavola, 2148 W. Chicago Ave.; 773-276-7567. Find out if your S.O. has any prowess in the kitchen by attending a Monday night cooking class together. Lend a hand to chef Dan Bocik as he demonstrates some of his popular Italian recipes including gnocchi in sage-butter sauce and roast chicken. Afterward, sample the class-prepared food at a family-style dinner. Tip: Just in case the student-made stuff flops, the kitchen adds a few dishes to the spread. Info: Classes are $50 per person (without wine, tax, or tip) and limited to 20.

SAY CHEESE
The gig:
Fondue at Exposure Tapas Restaurant, 1315 S. Wabash Ave.; 312-662-1082. Fondue always gets the nod for being romantic—but the crowds and oil smell can often wreck the moment. Bypass the usual establishments, and dip into cheese fondue at Exposure, a sexy South Loop loungestaurant with red velvet walls and strong cocktails. Exposure’s version is made with your choice of six cheeses and served with veggies, fruit, and bread. Still hungry? There’s Valrhona chocolate fondue for dessert. Tip: Any one cheese does the trick, but if you want a combo, aged Cheddar and Gruyère is best. Info: Loads of Mediterranean-inspired tapas are also available.


 

Illustration: Plankton Art Co.

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