You, Glorious You
Single this year? Celebrate Valentine's Day with the one you love --- you! --- at one of these tasty havens for the unattached.
By Bradley Tuck 02/01/2012
Saint Valentine’s Day gets a bad rap. It often gets lumped in with other holidays labeled somewhat derisively as “Hallmark holidays,” those fake occasions dreamed up by marketing men to provide a boost to sales of cards and other love tokens.
To be sure, Valentine’s Day, as it tends to be known these days, provides a welcome shot in the arm to card shops, florists and restaurants, contributing an estimated $14 billion to the U.S. economy in 2010, according to the National Retail Federation. But its real roots go all the way back to 496 AD and Pope Gelasius, who established the holiday in honor of a few Christian martyrs named Valentine or Valentinus. It was on the General Roman Calendar, the Catholic Church’s official list of saints’ celebrations, until 1969, when it was removed by Pope Paul VI. Maybe he was ticked at not getting cards or maybe he felt that its modern meaning was so far removed from the original that it no longer qualified as a Christian commemoration. In any case, Valentine’s Day had by that time been well and truly sold to the public as a day for showering tokens of esteem --- both welcome and unwelcome --- on the objects of one’s affection, rather than reflecting on the gruesome death of a believer.
If Valentine’s Day feels like a kind of martyrdom for you, it could be because it relentlessly hammers home the fact that you’re single. On the shelf. And even if “Love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs,” at least according to William Shakespeare, the thought of Valentine’s Day might cause your single, unhitched breast to heave dolefully. Or you might be thrilled to be rowing your canoe alone down life’s river. Either way, there are plenty of ways for you to enjoy the day without feeling, or looking, like a loose stitch in life’s rich tapestry. Here are a few suggestions of places to help you get through to February 15.
THE NEAT BAR
1114 N. Pacific Ave., Glendale
(818) 241-4542 | theneatbar.com
Aiden Demarest’s little bar in Glendale is the perfect spot to pore over a perfectly curated menu of spirits, pick your poison and follow it with a bartender’s choice of chaser. Drinks here are served neat, as the name suggests. The selection of spirits reflects Demarest’s years behind the bar and his experience setting up bars, including downtown L.A.’s The Edison, and 1886 at The Raymond, another Arroyo favorite. When you’re on your own, there’s nobody to distract you from the communion between you and a perfect Bourbon, nobody’s voice to drown out the smoky notes. The only thing that needs to touch your lips that night is the rim of a tumbler.
THE LUGGAGE ROOM PIZZERIA
260 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena
(626) 356-4440 | theluggageroom.com
Take any one of the stools at the circular bar in the center of the pizzeria. Order a perfectly crisped pie from their menu and a glass of, say, Fiddlehead Fiddlestix, Santa Rita 2007 Pinot Noir, secure in the knowledge that at no point will you have to offer up a slice of this wonderful crust to someone who “just wants to see what it’s like.” The bar is relaxed and friendly, and there’s enough action with the pies being inserted into and extricated from the wood-burning oven to occupy you. Being selfish never felt so good
POP CHAMPAGNE & DESSERT BAR
33 E. Union St.,Pasadena
(626) 795-1295 | popchampagnebar.com
With its location in the center of bustling Old Pasadena, Pop is the perfect pit stop after an early evening retail-therapy spree. The money that you didn’t have to spend on a significant other can be spent instead on a new sweater for yourself, a trinket from a jewelry shop, some artisanal soaps, in fact anything that says, “I love me.” Then you can park yourself down at a table in the bar and order a split of 1998 Saint-Chamant Cuvée de Chardonnay ($60) and a soufflé du jour. To remind yourself that relationships are as delicate as beaten eggs, and most of us open the oven door too soon.
Misery loves company, but treat Valentine’s Day as a celebration of your wonderful friendships, and you can have a better time than any couple enjoying the sullen hospitality of a romantic restaurant. Take the money you would have spent on dinner à deux, say $75 each, and get half a dozen friends together. You’ve now got a budget of $450 to throw a mother of a Valentine’s dinner. Delegate wine buying to someone who understands it, then stock up on treats from any number of gourmet purveyors. The Market on Holly (themarketonholly.com ) is a good start, as is Nicole’s Gourmet Foods (nicolesgourmetfoods.com) in South Pasadena. Fish King Seafood in Glendale would be the spot to pick up some oysters and other treats to make a plateau de fruits de mer. The idea is to be indulgent and celebrate both your singledom and your friends. Because as a friend of mine once said, “It starts with hearts and roses and ends with the police being called.” One day, one of the assembled will be clutching a cellphone to his or her ear, listening to a hot mess --- you --- as you sob about love’s labours lost. The least you can do is feed them first.