I'm going to break it to you gently. You want to take your sweetie out for dessert on Feb. 14? You're probably not getting in at the 900-pound gorilla of Tampa Bay dessert spots, the Harry Waugh Dessert Room at Bern's Steak House. The dessert room doesn't accept reservations, but takes walk-ins, giving priority to steak house diners. Bern's is just about full for Feb. 14, and the dessert room can accommodate 100 fewer people than the dining room. My advice is go to Plan B.
Pelagia (Renaissance Tampa International Plaza Hotel, 4200 Jim Walter Blvd., Tampa; (813) 313-3235) is doing a special menu on Tuesday (lobster bisque, osso buco, etc.), culminating in a Godiva chocolate cake with mint cream glaze and espresso butter cream ($9). They still have reservations and are amenable to dessert-only diners, but specify that you are only coming for dessert when you call. Bonus: Everyone gets a complimentary glass of Italian prosecco.
Seasons 52 (204 N West Shore Blvd., Tampa; (813) 286-1152) has a little something for lovers, emphasis on the little. From now until Feb. 15 they are offering a new specialty "mini indulgence," the chocolate raspberry valentine, a combination of chocolate cake layered between ribbons of chocolate syrup, raspberry puree and raspberry mouse, finished with whipped cream and a chocolate kiss. While reservations are looking heavy in the dining room already, you can stop in just for dessert and sit in the bar and listen to live piano.
Carmel Café & Wine Bar (2548 McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater, (727) 724-4228; and 14306 N Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa, (813) 265-1415) is offering some great pours Friday through Tuesday (Mumm Napa Brut Rose, Jordan Russian River Valley Chardonnay, Belle Glos Pinot Noir and Vin ice wine) with live entertainment Friday and Saturday and a special treat: a dessert trio of two housemade truffles, one cappuccino and one Marcona almond, with an Amarena cherry custard.
Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar (4322 W Boy Scout Blvd., Tampa; (813) 874-9463) is getting fairly full in the dining room, but they reserve the bar entirely for walk-ins and welcome dessert-only diners, especially later in the evening. They are offering a special Valentine's menu Sunday through Tuesday, culminating in a dessert that sounds worthy of serious inspection: red velvet cake with espresso truffles for two ($9.50). As a special incentive, Fleming's is offering each couple dining Sunday through Tuesday a complimentary $25 Fleming's dining card to use toward a future rendezvous.
Cappuccinos Altro Posto Café (733 Broadway St., Dunedin; (727) 738-8009) is offering strawberry shortcake and brandied bread pudding, but for something different, they will put together a picnic basket for you — quiche, sandwiches, fruit and cheese tray, cookies, etc., complete with utensils, glassware and such. Grab one and head to the beach. Prices start at $35.
St. Pete Brasserie (539 Central Ave., St. Petersburg; (727) 823-6372), overseen by new owner Justin Chamoun, welcomes Valentine's dessert reservations. Chef Jay Ward has won major fans for his trio of creme brulee flavors, and his flourless chocolate torte, chocolate lava cake and berry tart are fit for delicious romance as well.
"Just the Two of Us" is the theme at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino (5224 Orient Road, Tampa; (813) 627-7625) for Valentine's Day. In their high-end steak house Council Oak, there is a special menu on Tuesday, culminating in a couple of dessert options: "citrus passion," a blood orange and red grapefruit tart topped with citrus caramel sauce, or a flourless chocolate "two hearts cake" with fresh berries and milk chocolate raspberry ice cream (both $14).
And while you can't pop in just for dessert on the big day (they're doing an $89 "couples menu" Friday through Sunday), you can send your beloved something sweet from Roy's (4342 W Boy Scout Blvd., Tampa; (813) 873-7697). Visit roysrestaurant.com or their Facebook page and send an e-card to as many friends as you want. When recipients click on the card they'll find one of three gifts: lobster pot stickers, a chocolate souffle (each with purchase of entree) or a $50 gift certificate.
Laura Reiley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 892-2293.