By Ben Terris
Valentine's Day is fast approaching. This year's holiday falls on a Saturday, which is great, unless you have nothing planned. A Valentine's Day without a plan can be a lot like a board room presentation without a plan: they each seem endless, they both involve a lot of stammering and apologizing, and they both leave two parties completely unsatisfied at the end of the day. Fortunately, I have your Newton Valentine's Day all planned out for you (starting with lunch).
1) When did bar food get so good?: To start the day off, head over to Paddy's Pub (95 Elm Street) for a lesson in what bar food should taste like. Paddy's has the look of a typical Irish Pub, but made nice. You're more likely to find people wearing ties than coming to fisticuffs, but the bar atmosphere still allows you to have what feels like a low-key meal (saving the fancy for dinner). The burgers are great, but if you feel like something a little different, try the Irish Country Side Shepherds Pie for $8.95.
2) Something sweet: You're probably already stuffed from Paddy's, but if you're smart you saved some room for some desert. Head over to Bread and Chocolate (108 Madison Ave.) in Newtonville. I am telling you now, you will not find a better bakery in Newton. For an old favorite, share the Chocolate Orange Mousse, which perfectly combines smooth chocolate with just a hint of fruit. You might want, however, to try owner Eunice Feller's special made-for-two Valentine's cupcake.
3) Wine Time: Now that you are definitely full, take some time picking out the wine you will drink to end your evening. Check out Vino Divino (899 Walnut St.) and take your time perusing a wonderful collection of wines. Since Valentine's Day falls on a Saturday, you can enjoy the store's weekly tasting to make sure you get the perfect bottle for your night of Dionysian revelry.
4) A little culture: In order to work off that food and drink before dinner, it's time to take in a little art. Head over to the New Art Center's exhibit Opening Lines to think about linear forms in a way you never have before.
5) Economy be damned!: If you have the money, this is the night to live large. Have your dinner at Lumiere (1293 Washington St.), spend $145 on the five course Valentine's Day meal paired with wine, otherwise the recession wins. If you can't afford it, there are always delicious burritos at Tango Mango for around six dollars.
6) And a movie: Finish off your day on the town by going over to West Newton Cinemas (1296 Washington St.) to watch the amazing Emma Thompson and Dustin Hoffman in the romantic "Last Chance Harvey." The performances of these two wonderful actor's alone will make this the cherry on top of a very romantic day.