Let's dispel an old adage: The stomach is not just the way to a man's heart. Any would-be gourmet is likely to be wooed by a well-appointed meal.

With Valentine's Day rapidly approaching, your options are dwindling to book something fun. You may also not want to contend with the crowds, but if your sweetheart sets a store by the actual day, here are some options.

The Kitchen (1317 20th St.): Attendees will help prepare a four-course meal consisting of lobster gougeres, served with Champagne; asparagus avocado arugula salad; beef tenderloin with a port shallot sauce, with sides of truffled “mac and cheese” and haricot verts with lemon Dijon; and strawberries and Champagne (strawberry sorbet meringue floating in a chilled strawberry soup spiked with Champagne). The evening runs from 6 to 9 p.m. Cost is $85 (plus tax and gratuity) per person, and includes a complimentary glass of Champagne. Reservations are required. Call 827-7811 or email info@thekitchenbakersfield.com.

Chef's Choice Noodle Bar (1534 19th St.): The 19th Street restaurant will offer multiple seatings between 5 and 8 p.m., serving its usual menu along with Valentine's dinner specials. Featured items include appetizers jumbo shrimp cocktail, lamb lollipop, and noodle-wrapped jumbo prawn; lobster bisque and crispy duck salad; and entrees deluxe surf and turf, veal chop and Chilean sea bass. An additional $6 valentine set-up includes live harp music, a champagne toast and long-stem rose. Call 325-1234 for reservations.

The Belle Rae (2104 18th St.): This adorable downtown event venue is hosting its first Valentine's dinner with NV Catering. The five-course meal consists of passed hors d'oeuvres, lobster ravioli, arugula cucumber avocado salad, choice of herb-crusted tenderloin or farci chicken and desserts from Byrdie's Bake Shop. A vegetarian menu will be available from Chef's Choice Noodle Bar. There will also be an open bar, live entertainment and giveaways featuring vendors on hand. Happy hour starts at 6 p.m. and dinner will be served at 7 Wednesday. Cost is $125 per couple. Call 748-1070 for tickets.

Tony's Firehouse Grill and Pizza (10701 Highway 178): Dinner consists of a large, one-topping heart-shaped pizza, a pint of Santa Maria Mo-tra blood orange IPA, glass of Chandon champagne, two side salads and a heart-shaped cinnamon dessert pizza. Cost is $40 (plus tax) per couple and includes the pint and champagne glasses to take home. Call 366-0129 for reservations. Tony's Delano location is also offering a similar deal. Call 720-9214 for more details.

Centro 18 Steakhouse (1517 18th St.): The downtown spot has a couple of options. Chef Lino’s Valentine’s Day Dinner is a four-course dinner along with a complimentary glass of champagne for those 21 and over with a valid ID. Dinner is served from 5 to 10 p.m. Wednesday; cost is $65 per person, which also includes live entertainment by Mauro Vizcarra. Reservations are required at 493-0177.

For those waiting for the weekend to celebrate, Centro will offer a Brazilian-style dinner and music and dancing with La Marcha. Dinner is served from 5 to 10 p.m. and reservations are required. Cost is $25 to $40.

Cloud 9 Coffee Co. (5060 California Ave.): If your valentine loves coffee more than you first, sorry, and second, stop by Cloud 9, which is serving holiday drinks. Choose from Honey, I Lav You (a honey and lavender latte) and Love Potion #9 (strawberry and white chocolate latte). The drinks are available now through the end of the month.

Cafe Smitten (909 18th St.): The cafe is down to help last-minute shoppers, with Valentine’s Day desserts from Ghiladolci Bakery and fresh bouquets from Rustic Petal Trailer. Head out between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Call 843-7305 for more details.

You can also go the discount route and head to KFC, which will be offering (while supplies last) scratch-and-sniff valentines with purchase of a $10 Chicken Share (choice of nine extra crispy tenders, six pieces of chicken, a lot of popcorn nuggets, or 12 hot wings). Enjoy such sentiments as "You have the secret recipe to my heart" and "I fell in love the first moment I slaw you."

Any other spots we missed? Send the dining details to thedish@bakersfield.com.

Go green at Toss It

I had a chance to check out Toss It this week. The customizable salad spot at 1917 Eye St. by Jin Sushi was a bit of what downtown needed.

Customers can choose from proteins including turkey, shrimp, chicken, bacon, tofu and more along with a couple of dozen veggie and legume options. After the salad is assembled, it is tossed and then packed in the to-go bowl along with any crunchy extras (croutons, wonton strips, etc.) on top.

The salad is large enough for two sides or a hearty lunch, especially with three scoops of protein. If you can indulge in a little sugar, get the blueberry lemonade, which is made in house.

It's cookie time!

Girl Scouts are out in force, tempting everyone with a delicious assortment of cookies. But if, for some reason, you're having trouble tracking them down, the Girl Scouts have you covered.

Start at the website (girlscouts.org) and use the "Cookie Finder," putting in your ZIP code to yield a list of locations and sale times. You can also download the Girl Scout Cookie Finder app on your smartphone for shopping on the go. Finally, if you want to help a particular Scout, find out how to access her Digital Cookie platform for online sales, which will be credited to her.

Ready for Lent

As the season of Lent approaches, restaurants roll out their seasonal seafood offerings. Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers brought back its fish sandwich and fish and chips basket. Both dishes feature wild-caught Alaska cod and are available now through April 4.

Wienerschnitzel is also aiming to reel in customers by bringing back its fish and chips, featuring panko-crusted Alaskan pollock. The item will be offered starting Monday and will continue through April 29. 

New and different

Temblor Brewing Co. is now offering the Impossible Burger, a plant-based patty said to have the juicy taste of a regular beef burger. The special patty is also available at Shake 'N Buns. ... Along with fish dishes, Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers is bringing back its mint ‘n' Oreo concrete, featuring vanilla frozen custard blended with cool mint and crunchy Oreos, topped with whipped cream and sprinkled with Oreo crumbs.

Stefani Dias can be reached at 661-395-7488. Follow her on Twitter at @realstefanidias.

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