Valentine’s Day is a time to celebrate romance and love and kissy-face fealty. But the origins of this festival of candy and cupids are actually dark, bloody — and a bit muddled.
—Arnie Seipel, NPR

In case you were wondering about the origins of Valentine’s Day in antiquity (doesn’t everyone?), Seipel takes us to pre-Christian Rome.

From Feb. 13 to 15, the Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia. The men sacrificed a goat and a dog, then whipped women with the hides of the animals they had just slain.

The Roman romantics “were drunk. They were naked,” says Noel Lenski, a historian at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Young women would actually line up for the men to hit them, Lenski says. They believed this would make them fertile.

Two thousand years later, it’s 2021, and the lovers’ institution of Valentine’s Day (Sunday, February 14) now takes its own turn in adapting to pandemic realities. Of course, it isn’t absolutely necessary to remain at home (see the options below), but People magazine assumes as much, offering these tips addressing “How You Can Celebrate Valentine’s Day Safely Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic.”

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and with the coronavirus (and its new, possibly more contagious variants) still continuing to spread across the country, it’s more important than ever that we do our part and stay at home.

Whether you’re a couple who met during the pandemic, you’ve been together for years or even if you’re spending the holiday alone, here’s how you can make Valentine’s Day special while staying safe.

Good news! All of these ideas can be adapted to be virtual, too.

As for the prospects outside your front door in the wider world, Valentine’s Day’s 2021 calendar slot on a Sunday means that not all restaurants will be open, and of course, eateries in metropolitan Louisville are operating under various pandemic restrictions. It’s a mixed bag of candies this year.

Following are a few thoughts for the apocryphal refrigerator post-it note. I’m making no effort whatever to be exhaustive, so consider this entire post as a scattershot impetus for further exploration.

  • OpenTable lists 15 restaurants with Valentine’s Day offers; most but not all are independently owned, including Brasserie Provence, Equus and Jack’s, Varanese and River House.
  • StyleBlueprint’s February list of events isn’t all dining-related, but activities perfect for pairing with food are included.
  • The Dinner Detective: Murder Mystery Dinner Show at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Louisville Downtown (501 South 4th Street) is running on Sunday, February 14 at 6:00 p.m.
  • And, SoIN tourism has “things to do in Southern Indiana for Valentine’s Day” that include offers from Portage House, Brooklyn and The Butcher, Huber’s Orchard & Winery, Mesa Collaborative Kitchen, and Board & You.

We received an information sheet from a local public relations firm detailing the following offers, which include both on-premise dining and takeaway options (as for the latter, La Chasse is taking orders, too).

Here they are, as they came to us.

LouVino Highlands – 1606 Bardstown Rd. 
LouVino Douglass Hills – 11400 Main St.

Treat that special someone this Valentine’s Day to a night out at LouVino with a special four-course prix fixe menu featuring warm caramelized onion and goat cheese dip; a mixed green salad with roasted winter squash, brie cheese and Woodford Reserve vinaigrette; choice of seared scallops or grilled petite filet as an entree; and chocolate chip cookie dough beignets for dessert. The special Valentine’s Day menu curated by culinary director Tavis Rockwell is $50 per person, plus tax and gratuity. It will be available at both the Highlands and Douglass Hills locations on Friday, Feb. 12, in addition to the regular dinner menu. It will be the only menu available at both locations on Saturday, Feb. 13, and as an option for dinner at Douglass Hills only on Sunday, Feb. 13. To make reservations, visit or call the individual restaurant.

Fork & Barrel – 2244 Frankfort Ave. 

Specially curated by executive chef Geoffrey Heyde, Fork & Barrel is offering a to-go four-course prix fixe menu for two featuring country pate with whole-grain mustard, onion, cherry mostarda and a baguette; a mixed green salad with raspberries, mandarin oranges, goat cheese and basil vinaigrette; choice of swordfish or crab and citrus-crusted filet as an entrée with sides including warm tomato and spinach couscous salad and grilled asparagus with paprika oil; and red velvet pound cake for dessert. Fork & Barrel is also offering half-priced bottles of wine starting on Thursday, Feb. 11. This special Valentine’s Day to-go dinner is $125 and an additional $25 with the Decoy California Cuvée Brut wine pairing. Pick-up is available from Friday, Feb. 12 through Sunday, Feb. 14 from 4 – 9 p.m. Orders must be placed by Thursday, Feb. 11 and can be placed by calling the restaurant at (502) 907-3675 or emailing

Fork & Barrel will have their full menu in addition to their Valentine’s Day specials for dine-in Friday, Feb. 12 through Sunday, Feb. 14. To make reservations, visit their website at

Morning Fork – 1722 Frankfort Ave. 

Start the day with lots of love with Morning Fork’s special red velvet cornmeal pancakes. These pancakes are also available to prepare at home in a DIY kit for $19; the at-home kit includes the red velvet cornmeal pancake batter and icing. Morning Fork’s special love brunch will be available from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, Feb. 12 through Sunday, Feb. 14. Reservations can be made online at or by calling (502) 830-9500.

Barn8 Farm Restaurant & Bourbon Lounge – 10500 W. Hwy. 42

The Goshen restaurant is offering pastries for pre-order and curbside pick-up, including Bête Noire flourless dark chocolate cake with salted bourbon chocolate ganache and macrons in pomegranate chocolate, bourbon caramel and pistachio cherry. Or, pick up a Hermitage Farm gift box for your Valentine, complete with two house-made macrons, Hermitage Soap, Hermitage Coffee Scrub and Hermitage Vanilla Extract. The restaurant will also offer a prix fixe dine-in special, including an amuse-bouche, starter, entrée and dessert. The exact menu will be determined based on the best ingredients available and will be priced at $100 per person with optional beverage pairings at an additional $50 per person. Reservations can be made online at or by calling (502) 398-9289.

The Kitchen & Bar at Bardstown Bourbon Company – Bardstown, Ky.

Bardstown Bourbon Company’s in-house restaurant, The Kitchen & Bar, is offering a special Valentine’s Day cocktail throughout the holiday weekend called Love Shack featuring Bardstown Bourbon Company’s Fusion Series Bourbon, Aperitivo, strawberry-infused vermouth, lemon and egg white. To make reservations, call (502) 233-4769 or visit

freight house – Paducah, Ky.

As a female-owned and operated business, freight house chef Sara Bradley is proud to host the annual Galentine’s Day event on Monday, Feb. 8 featuring a menu filled with breakfast-themed plates. The boozy breakfast includes frittatas, breakfast burritos, Oprah-style giveaways and 80’s style prom dresses. Reservations, masks and air high-fives required. Two seating times are available – call (270) 908-0006 to make reservations.

And, late links; I’ll continue adding them as they’re brought to our attention: Proof on Main’s special menu for Feb. 12 – 14.

(Cover photo credit, with lots of retro Valentine’s Day images.)