Crown and Goose
Baker-Peters Jazz Club
Sapphire: A Modern Bar and Restaurant
KNOXVILLE — Although Valentine's Day falls on a Monday this year, there's no shortage of romantic nightlife options.
The city's scene tends to peak toward the end of the week with most weeknights being reserved for regulars or those hoping to catch a particular sporting event. So even though some people might choose to celebrate the holiday over the weekend, you're not at a loss on the holiday itself.
Since some places that really spelled out "romance" have disappeared (Busby's Tango Grille recently closed), this year might be harder than before when it comes to finding shoo-in destinations.
For those who need some input on the matter, here are a few suggestions I've come up with thanks to several years of bar-going:
Crown & Goose, 123 S. Central St.
Crown & Goose is pulling out all the stops for Valentine's Day, with a $55-per-person special featuring a special Valentine Salad, a seafood sausage, a choice of three entrees, and a dessert (reservations are required). Fortunately for those heading to this Old City venue, the gastropub has several of its own delicious blends of beer on tap. Crown & Goose also will be offering a Valentine's Dessert Tray Feb. 11-13 for those celebrating over the weekend.
Baker Peters Jazz Club, 9000 Kingston Pike
Similarly, Baker Peters is hosting dinner for couples with packages starting at $85. Packages are available Feb. 11-14 with a different live act performing each evening. Each option includes the venue's famous hors d'oeuvre and entree selections. Baker Peters is known to mix a delicious martini and serve top-notch wines, perfect for dates. And their posh, upscale atmosphere certainly adds to the date experience.
Lakeside Tavern, 10911 Concord Park Drive
It doesn't matter if the weather is ugly and the view isn't what it would be on a summer's day, this classy waterfront venue is quite the spot for a special date. The romantic atmosphere is enhanced by the venue's surroundings, including that it sits atop a series of rolling hills. The restaurant's wine selection rivals the best in town, it has top-shelf liquors to suite your palate, the entrees are well prepared and the service never lacks. The bar area with dim lighting, dark tile floor and a marble-top bar makes for a great pre- or post-dinner spot for socialization and spirits. It's pricier than a usual night out, but you get what you pay for. Lakeside Tavern makes a great option for those going out the weekend before or on Valentine's Day itself - but given last year's crowd, I'd recommend making a reservation.
Sapphire, 428 S. Gay St.
Shifting gears a little bit, Sapphire provides a swanky night-on-the-town option. The modernized venue is upscale-yet-casual. It works for a special occasion but also has regulars. Any one of its many specialized martinis makes for something great to sip on during conversation. Sapphire's main seating arrangements are surrounded by wooden shelves showcasing local art, while upbeat music plays through the sound system. For those looking to make an evening out of it, Sapphire also has a full dinner menu.
Sunspot, 1909 Cumberland Ave.
If you're a college student on a budget, this might be the spot for you. Sunspot serves creative entrees, many of them vegetarian. But more importantly, their bar area is (usually) quiet and ambient, making conversation easier than, say, yelling over Lady Gaga songs and a beer-soaked crowd. It serves a variety of wine, including Crane Lake, which fits nicely into the college-student budget. A trip won't break the bank but still provides that special occasion atmosphere, especially if you're the kind who's at Cool Beans five nights a week.
Copper Cellar West, 7316 Kingston Pike
Much like Lakeside Tavern, this venue boasts an upscale environment and pristine seating area. And whereas it still has the burgers that the Strip venue is famous for, it also features seafood and sizeable steaks. The venue's most suited for a meal, but there's also a full bar. And most importantly - it offers the Smoky Mountain Brewery beers.