5 Ideas for a Romantic Valentine’s Day Dinner at Home

Do you have dinner reservations for February 14th? Looking forward to cozying up with your sweetheart as lovey-dovey couples seated on either side of you make kissy faces at each other? Yeah, neither are we.

That’s why we cornered a couple of very talented New York City-based chefs and asked them about recreating that oh-so-special meal at home. In spite of the fact that both chefs are planning elaborate tasting menus for Valentine’s Day at their respective restaurants, both were able to offer some inspirational ideas for homebound lovebirds.

Hadley Schmitt, Executive Chef of Northern Spy Food Company in Manhattan’s East Village, said that it’s a good idea to keep it light, since most people don’t like to eat too much on Valentine’s Day. Although he didn’t say as much, it makes sense, especially if there’s the possibility of sexy lingerie on the horizon. Rebecca Weitzman, the Executive Chef at The Clarkson, agreed that a traditional Valentine’s tasting menu out at a restaurant tends to be luxurious, but not over-the-top. Instead, couples prefer modern takes on comfortable classics (think puréed potatoes and shepherd’s pie).

Another thing both chefs agreed on was the make-ahead factor. Once you put the kids to bed, then you can sit down to savor the meal that’s been bubbling away with little hands-on effort from you. Schmitt and Weitzman suggest choosing an entrée that can mostly be left alone, like braised beef short ribs. “The key is getting good beef stock to braise with, with some gelatinous quality from a (reputable) butcher shop,” Schmitt says, and Weitzman concurs: “Short ribs don’t need a lot of attention, so you can sit and hang out, enjoy each other’s company.”

Chef Hadley calls on chocolate for dessert and likes the idea of simple chocolate ganache truffles that can be rolled in cocoa powder with a dusting of powdered sugar and which are meant to be eaten with your fingers.

If you do it right with wine and a couple of courses, it won’t be the most inexpensive meal you’ll ever make at home, but it will cost you a heck of a lot less than a restaurant tasting menu, which will start at around $50 a head, and that’s before you’ve even paid the babysitter.

If you’re inclined to try something new on Cupid’s holiday, go right ahead–Weitzman suggests ignoring the old adage about not trying something you’ve never made before. Should you choose to try out a new dish, seriously consider the do-ahead option and remember to have fun with it