Edible Splits A La Valentine Dishes Diners Can Divide And Conquer

Posted: February 10, 1989

Hot and sour soup. Caesar salad. Chateaubriand. Rack of lamb. Bananas Foster. Chocolate souffle.

What do these disparate dishes have in common? They're almost always served ''for two."

The approach of Valentine's Day got the Guerrilla Gourmet thinking about dishes for duos. Appetizers, entrees and desserts portioned specifically for pairs turn up frequently in restaurants that cater to romantics, but that's not the only way to share something wonderful.

Nowadays, couples may split an entree-sized pasta or fancy salad as an appetizer. Or they'll ask a waiter to divide a hunk of cheesecake so gigantic it would be embarrassing to polish it off alone. (In public, anyway.) Or they'll head for Chinatown, where sharing is expected.

My own favorites to share include the antipasto for two at Mezzanote, 17th and Green; the Greek salad or Decadent Dinner Salad at Knave of Hearts, 230 South Street; the grilled onion and eggplant salad at Liberties, 705 N. 2nd; the eclectic pizzas at Boccie, 4040 Locust; steamed Ipswich clams at Bookbinders Seafood House, 215 S. 15th; the sushi and sashimi combination at Ziggy's, 1210 Walnut; the large Caesar salad at Judy's, 3rd and Bainbridge; pasta dishes everywhere; and any of the cheesecake varieties at Judy's, where the slices are big enough to satisfy Andre the Giant.

A poll of colleagues who dine out with gusto in twos yielded more sharing suggestions: fried calamari at Mezzanote; curried mussels at Siam Cuisine, 925 Arch; mussels in red sauce at Villa di Roma, 936 S. 9th; Cajun popcorn at the Magnolia Cafe, 1602 Locust; angel hair pasta with prosciutto, lemon zest and olive oil at Alouette, 4th and Bainbridge; the combination meat and vegetable sampler at The Red Sea, an Ethiopian restaurant at 45th & Locust; and the seven-course Morrocan dinner at Marrakesh, 517 Leithgow.

But let's say you want one of those traditional dishes created especially ''for two." The following restaurants are among those that can oblige. Prices are for two people, except where otherwise noted.

Bogart's, 17th and Walnut, expects to serve Beef Wellington ($42) in the days around Feb. 14. Menu mainstays include flamed desserts for two ($9) and Caesar salad ($4.95 per person).

Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, 260 S. Broad, has a porterhouse steak that can be ordered for two, three or four people ($22.95 per person). Do you dare dine out with more than one Valentine?

Ristorante Longano, 767 S. 9th, has a Zuppa di Pesce ($29) that's a casserole of mussels, clams, shrimp, fresh fish, scallops and lobster, served on linguine.

The menu also offers Pollo Imbottita ($20), a whole boned chicken stuffed with prosciutto and fontina cheese. It's broiled and served with a lemon sauce.

Pyrenees, 627 S. 2nd, reports that customers like to share its Bouillabaisse, a shellfish stew listed as an entree ($22). The restaurant's popular paella ($17.95 per person) can be ordered for two or more.

Babe's Steakhouse, 3400 Aramingo Ave., is for you big spenders out there. Choose from chateaubriand ($45.95), a 22-ounce double filet mignon carved tableside; a 40-ounce porterhouse steak ($55.95); rack of lamb ($42) with a tart berry sauce on the side; or the 3 1/2-pound lobster fresh from the restaurant's tank (market price - figure around $60).

Harlow's, the snazzy supper club at The Bourse on Independence Mall, serves

chateaubriand and other specialties for two in the $40 range, plus a selection of flamed desserts.

Ponte Vecchio, a romantic Italian restaurant at 117 South, has four desserts prepared tableside for two: cherries jubilee, flambeed bananas or strawberries, and an Italian custard with fresh fruit. Each is $12.

Ponte Vecchio also has a Caesar salad for two ($10.95) prepared tableside.

What would I wish from my Valentine? He knows I'd pass up a dozen roses for a dozen oysters (the exceptional pan-fried ones from Metropolis, 1515 Locust), but we couldn't share those because he doesn't like oysters.

And what will I do for him? He loves Mrs. Fields' Cookies (604 South and at The Shops at Penn) - the ones with milk chocolate chips. We wouldn't share those, either, because I prefer the ones with semi-sweet chocolate chips.

One thing we do agree on: we probably won't go out to dinner on Valentine's Day. Restaurants tend to be too crowded.

Before we go: a wilted rose to all restaurants that charge for an extra plate when people share. Is it our fault your portions are huge?

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