Valentine's Day is approaching—and if you're lacking for novel methods to woo your romantic partner, there are always those twin staples of the holiday: flowers and candy. With their towering orchids and mouthwatering displays of handcrafted treats, countless shops throughout New York City do the old standbys right. In the following slideshow, you'll find a bevy of fantastic florists and creative chocolatiers who offer intriguing twists on these traditional V-Day gifts. Pair any of them with one of these classic movie–inspired Valentine's Day date ideas, and it'll be an affair to remember.
Max Brenner: Chocolate by the Bald Man
841 Broadway, 646-467-8803, Union Square, Manhattan
Semi-fictitious dessert magnate Max Brenner (a character whose name is a composite of the shop's two founders) hopes to someday build a chocolate city. He's well on his way at this Union Square favorite, where they'll make anything out of the sweet stuff. A bagel filled with melted chocolate? Sure. Chocolate pizza? No problem. And for giving on February 14, Max's Valentine Love, Chocolate Love Box and Romantic Chocolate Spa Gift assortments won't soon be forgotten.
Starbright Floral Design
150 W. 28th St., 800-520-8999, Chelsea, Manhattan
Starbright is an anchor of the Flower District, but it's less of a florist's shop than a full-blown garden emporium, selling shrubs, bamboo, outdoor plants (even fruit trees!), indoor tropical plants and, of course, flowers. Services include plantscaping and custom arrangements. Stunning rose bouquets like Be My Love, Always on My Mind and Make Me Blush are just a few of the V-Day offerings.
Jacques Torres Chocolate
66 Water St., 718-875-1269, DUMBO, Brooklyn
Formerly an award-winning pastry chef at renowned NYC restaurant Le Cirque, the self-proclaimed "Mr. Chocolate" has whipped up a sweet paradise for cocoa bean lovers at his eponymous shops in Brooklyn and Manhattan. Bold-patterned truffles boast exotic fillings like passion fruit and champagne, while ancho chili packs a piquant punch in the house-made hot chocolate. Celebrate the holiday with a variety of treats, from a chocolate I Love U Puzzle to the Lover's Deluxe Hat Box collection.
Katrina Parris Flowers
191 Lenox Ave., 212-222-7030, Harlem, Manhattan
This award-winning Harlem boutique florist—founded by husband-and-wife team Katrina Parris and Mark Pinn—produces elegant, unconventional arrangements for Valentine's Day and all other occasions, including weddings, bar mitzvahs and corporate events. Known for a tireless attention to detail, Katrina Parris Flowers also offers free group workshops on the basics of flower selection, design principles and care.
485 Madison Ave., 212-980-2608, Midtown East, Manhattan
When you can't jet off to Brussels for a chocolate fix, this Belgian confectionery jets the chocolate to you. For the holiday, the company's delectable offerings, including pralines with fresh cream fillings and Manon Blancs—white chocolate with coffee-infused fillings—can be nestled in a red velvet heart box.
148 Duane St., 212-240-9033, TriBeCa, Manhattan
For more than 25 years, Elan Flowers has offered gorgeous fresh-cut flower arrangements for holidays and all types of events. The unexpected blends of color and texture have made the team's custom bouquets a favorite of celebrities and prestigious institutions alike. One particular Valentine's Day arrangement features a rich grouping of red and purple mixed blooms; you can also get stems of seeded eucalyptus tucked among traditional roses, as well as white roses accompanied by daffodils, miniature calla lilies and blueberries.
Hershey's Times Square
1593 Broadway, 212-581-9100, Times Square, Manhattan
The 16-story Hershey's Times Square is more than a candy store—it's a veritable chocolate amusement park. For Valentine's Day, you can personalize giant Hershey's Kisses or wow your love with a three-pound solid chocolate heart or a box of ever-so-cool heart-shaped York Peppermint Patties. Outside, a customizable scrolling marquee lets anyone see their name in lights in Times Square.
120 W. 28th St., 3rd fl., 646-688-5753, Gramercy, Manhattan
Looking for a florist where the stems aren't the only green part of your bouquet? Gardenia Organic claims to be New York City's first organic flower shop, and it prides itself on its dedication to ethical and eco-friendly practices—from the growth and trade of the flowers to the packaging and delivery (by subway and on foot). For the holiday, the Total Romantic and Red Hot Love arrangements, for example, arrive in tissue and wrappings that are recycled and/or biodegradable. And, best of all, you don't have to pay extra for caring about the environment—Gardenia's prices are comparable to those at other NYC flower shops. Just be sure to call ahead of time, as the shop sees customers by appointment only.
MarieBelle New York
484 Broome St., 212-925-6999, SoHo, Manhattan
MarieBelle's chocolates are adorned with amazingly intricate hand-painted designs, but the real artistry is in their taste. The candies are available in a dizzying array of flavors—like lemon, hazelnut and Earl Grey tea, to name a few—that will be new even to the most adventurous chocophile. Those looking to sit down should visit the elegant Cacao Bar and Tea Salon (featuring eye-popping chandeliers and cozy tables) where guests can enjoy pudding-thick—and dark—Aztec hot chocolate. MarieBelle is happy to customize boxed chocolate assortments for your valentine.
Seasons: A Floral Design Studio
888 Eighth Ave., 212-586-2257, Midtown West, Manhattan
Owners Gerald Palumbo and Daniel Munoz have run their shop at this Eighth Avenue location for more than 17 years. True to its name, Seasons offers aromatic floral medleys for winter, spring, summer and fall. Expect cool blues and whites for snowy weather and sunny yellows and bright pinks for warmer temperatures. Their bouquets are perfect for special occasions, like Valentine's Day, or spontaneous surprises, and they also offer a variety of gifts and elegant vases. The Seasons staff is especially experienced at wedding preparations, cheerfully fulfilling all sorts of requests to ensure that a client's mind is at ease as they plan the big day.
21 Clinton St., 212-677-7417, Lower East Side, Manhattan
Now taking reservations for Valentine's Day, Cocoa Bar combines the simple joys of chocolate with the trappings of a trendy tavern. Nibble on homemade chocolates and decadent desserts (like the Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake), or sip mint hot chocolate, cinnamon hot chocolate, spicy hot chocolate…you get the idea. Coffee and wine are also available, and servers are more than willing to suggest sake-chocolate, beer-chocolate and wine-chocolate pairings. The Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Cake, for example, is best served with the Dante Robino Malbec. Plus, Cocoa Bar offers free WiFi, so you can update your Facebook status ("OMG, I just had the best hot chocolate!") as you sip.
Gramercy Park Flower Shop
236 Third Ave., 212-475-4989, Gramercy, Manhattan
Flower shops may seem as ubiquitous as pizza parlors or ATMs in New York, but Gramercy Park Flower Shop merits a closer look; owned and operated by the same family in the same location for more than 100 years, this place is indeed a Gramercy institution. Proud to have served more than three generations of customers, the knowledgeable staff excels in creating seasonally themed arrangements and accommodating clients by repotting houseplants, placing special orders and even making house calls for assistance with oversize plants. Visit the shop's website regularly for flower and plant tips and Today's Arrangements (floral designs available for same-day delivery in the New York metro area). And check out the beautiful arrangements of tulips or roses and hydrangeas for Valentine's Day giving. This location is the first; the business has expanded to include an annex in Chelsea Market and outlets in the MetLife Building and in DUMBO in Brooklyn.
The Chocolate Room
86 Fifth Ave., 718-783-2900, Park Slope, Brooklyn
Think you can't get, or give, enough chocolate? Test that theory at The Chocolate Room, a deliciously indulgent boutique and dessert café where the only things not covered in chocolate are the chairs—even the walls are painted the color of cocoa. Share a chocolate fondue for two with strawberries, macaroons, fudge and orange cheesecake, or try the brownies, puddings, sorbets, chocolate-covered marshmallows and Fritz Knipschildt chocolates. Both the Park Slope and Cobble Hill locations are practically dripping with cocoa.