For the planning-averse, Valentine’s Day is an annual nightmare. Many restaurants are booked long in advance.

It’s the most popular date night of the year, and a little planning goes a long way. But don’t fret, V-Day procrastinators. It’s still possible to execute the perfect evening on the fly. For singles and the happily monogamous alike, there are plenty of last-minute going-out options for Friday’s Hallmark holiday.

No-reservations policies might be a pain in the you-know-what 364 days out of the year. But on Valentine’s Day those first-come, first-served restaurants are the forgetful boyfriend’s safety net. Of course you didn’t space on dinner plans, duh. You just knew a walk-in winner like Tilia would be the perfect place for your love feast.

Aside from Steven Brown’s Linden Hills hot spot, Broders’ Pasta Bar is offering a $60 per couple prix fixe, and the Sample Room in northeast Minneapolis features a special four-course “fourplay” menu ($70 for two, with $25 wine pairings) in addition to its regular menu.

High-minded music and fashion converge at the Black Hearts Ball. The semiformal gala and fashion show highlights the sophisticated duds of Twin Cities designers Tim and Thom Navarro (Tim + Thom), Carly Schoen, Danielle Everine, Laura Fulk, Sarah M. Holm and Rachel Roff of Delange Designs, alongside opera/classical performances by local musicians. The runway strutting and tuxedo tunes begin at 9 p.m., with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres beforehand. Black-and-white attire encouraged.

8 p.m., Fri., $20, Minneapolis Club, 729 2nd Av. S., Mpls.,


Don’t mind your sweet nothings being shown up by the pros? Then check out the Victorian Poetry Slam at the James J. Hill House. Actors rocking 1890s eveningwear will regale the crowd with classic poems by Emily Dickinson, Edgar Allan Poe and more. Refreshments and house tours follow the hourlong performance, which isn’t limited to lovey-dovey stuff (topics range from romance to war).

7 p.m., Fri., $8-$12, 240 Summit Av.,

St. Paul,


This month the AZ Gallery is seeing red. In honor of V-Day, the Lowertown art space is holding its “Fifty Shades of Red” exhibit through Feb. 23. Member artists invited guest contributors to explore the color of passion via the medium of their choice. Stick around downtown St. Paul — apparently the most romantic North American getaway, per USA Today — for food, drink or a stroll through nearby Mears Park.

5-8 p.m., Thu.-Fri., 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Sat.-Sun., 308 E. Prince St., St. Paul, 651-224-3757,


Justin Timberlake may have brought sexy back, but Jeff Timmons is, uh, “taking sexy to a whole new level.” Make it a girls night out, as the 98 Degrees bro joins Emmy-winning choreographer Glenn Douglas Packard in a live male revue called Men of the Strip at Mill City Nights. As of press time, tickets were still available to ogle these muscly guys doing song-and-dance routines and some Cirque Du Soleil-style acrobatics.

9 p.m., Fri., $30-$40, 18-plus, 111 5th St. N., Mpls., 612-333-3422,


An event celebrating heavy metal, heady brews and “bitter feelings of lovelessness” could be a tough V-Day sell. But the Nomad Pub’s At the Heart of Winter party features DJs from St. Paul metal hub Into the Void Records and six special keg tappings of Left Hand’s Fade to Black, Fulton’s War and Peace, Ommegang’s Chocolate Indulgence and more.

7 p.m., Friday, 21-plus, 501 Cedar Av. S., Mpls., 612-612-338-6424,


Date or no date, keep your after-dinner activities classy with Walker After Hours. The museum kicks off Jim Hodges’ “Give More Than You Take” exhibit, showcasing 75 pieces spanning photography, drawing, sculpture and installation. The Valentine’s Day edition features a musical “cameo” by Sisyphus — an all-star trio of Sufjan Stevens, Son Lux and avant-rapper Serengeti. Plus DJ sets from Olga Bell of Dirty Projectors and former DP member Angel Deradoorian (who play the McGuire Theater on Thursday), and D’Amico drinks/small bites.

9 p.m.-midnight, Fri., $20-$30, Walker Art Center, 1750 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls., 612-375-7600,


Add a little va-va-voom to your Valentine’s Day with veteran burlesque troupe Le Cirque Rouge. The Cupid-struck edition of this cabaret show features performances from Queenie Von Curves, Mugsy McBee, Buttercup Flowers and more at the Amsterdam Bar & Hall. Reserved tables are sold out, but general-admission tickets for this Vaudevillian variety act were available at press time.

8 p.m., Fri., $15-$20, 6 W. 6th St., St. Paul, 612-285-3112,


Michael Rietmulder writes about bars, beer and nightlife.

nightlife news & notes

Think they are?

Folks at August Schell Brewing Co. haven’t been shy about their dissatisfaction with the Brewers Association for placing the longtime Minnesota beer maker on a 2012 list of domestic non-craft breweries, because its American lagers contain corn.

Roughly a year after head brewer Jace Marti penned a stern rebuttal, the New Ulm brewery launched its “German Craft” campaign last week, presumably with the association’s slight in mind.

On the authority of its 154 years of brewing, Schell’s declared German craft a new genre of beer (hey, you live that long you can make big proclamations, too) a month ahead of its limited series honoring the 30th anniversary of Schell’s Pils.

Brunch, meet beer

With a non-frat-boy version of kegs and eggs, this Sunday Butcher and the Boar kicks its monthly beer bash brunch style.

The acclaimed meat-ery opens its beer garden at 11 a.m. with a special brunch menu until 3 p.m. with featured brews from Goose Island, including its fawned-over Bourbon County Brand Stout and barley wine.

Nathan Miller and the Unstoppable Co. start the music at 1 p.m. and the tented party runs till 6 p.m.

1121 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls., 612-238-8888,


Michael Rietmulder