Sorry, restaurateurs, but Valentine’s Day can be one of the worst evenings to eat out — especially if you like great food, prompt service and intimate dining. Restaurants can be crowded and loud, and the staff can be stressed and rushed. So if it’s not your first date or if you haven’t reserved a private dining room for the evening, think about cooking a nice dinner at home. And, of course, you’ll need a special dessert. Our judges love red velvet cake, so we baked four from boxed mixes. We followed manufacturer’s directions on each mix and tasted them without icing to judge only the cake. One brand was the clear favorite, even without traditional cream cheese icing, which some of the panelists said they definitely would add at home.
Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent