Valentine's Day is not the time to insist that the way to the heart is through the stomach, as in a solid meal. No.The way to the heart lies in red roses, in plump chocolates, in lacy cards and yearning verse.
Exit the chef and enter the lover, smooching in front of the fire, drunk on wine and sentimental song, and not at all wanting to know that the smell coming from the kitchen is broccoli burning.
Yet even the most besotted of lovers must eat, so following are four meals that make themselves.
Meal No. 1: from Suzanne's, a takeout shop with upstairs cafe that opened recently at 1735 Connecticut Ave. NW.
To start, serve two thin slices of their fish mousse (stuffed with salmon and prunes, and $7.95 a lb.) dressed with a lemony mayonnaise. For the main course, make open-faced sandwiches by slicing croissants in half and topping them with smoked, boned chicken breast ($6.50 a lb., which will serve two).
Surround the sandwiches with a slice of creamy yellow corolle du Poitou cheese ($5.50 a lb.), deep-red sundried tomatoes ($3.50 a 1/4-lb.) and glistening black Morrocan olives ($2.25 a lb.). The tomatoes are preserved in olive oil and their salty, intense flavor is preferrable to any tomatoes the supermarket is offering right now.
In honor of the holiday, Suzanne's will have two heart-shaped desserts, a chocolate mousse and a coeur a la creme, but if you belong to the band of people who believe that nothing says love better than chocolate, you might instead serve their incredibly rich chocolate/chestnut gateau which will sate even the most voracious cholcolate lust. Each of the desserts are $2 a serving.
Suzanne's take-out shop is open 4 to 8 p.m. on Mondays, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday.
Meal No. 2: from Pasta, Inc., at 2805 M St. NW, is less elaborate: sausage lasagna (it's $5.95 a lb. and you'll need 1 1/2 to 2 lbs. for two) and a salad of broccoli and cauliflower ($5.25 a lb.). For desset, put out a plate of amaretti cookies to nibble on while dancing to a Billie Holiday record.
Pasta's hours: 10 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. on Sunday.
Meal No. 3: a country-style dinner from the American Cafe at 1219 Wisconsin Ave. NW, and 227 Massachusetts Ave. NE.Start with vegetable soup at $2.65 a pint, followed by sausage, bacon and potato pie (4.95 ($4.95 a portion) and garlic broccoli salad (I know, I know, but you'll both be eating it). It's $4.75 a lb. and a half pound will do for two not terribly hungry people; for dessert, a large slice of carrot cake at $1.50.
The Cafe hours: 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 8:30 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday.
The Mystery Meal: from Finesse at 1531 Wisconsin Ave. NW (965-2672). Their entrees vary and you have to call to find out whether they will be offering lemon chicken or moussaka or beef with apricot sauce and so on. They estimate that a meal for two would run $20.
Finesse hours: 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. every day but Sunday.