Valentine’s Day comes with all sorts of pressures to impress your date in really outlandish, public scene-creating ways. Cringey flash mobs are the modern day singing telegram, but worse, because they’re in a mall. Teens are setting the bar obscenely high for romantic gestures with elaborate promposals. If your Valentine’s Day plans this year are going to include a significant other (or someone you’re tryna make your SO), drop the theatrics and opt for a sexy but not serious home-cooked meal. You can treat your special someone to a romantic meal without tapered candles, white tablecloths, and a wine list you can’t understand. Here are our favorite appetizers, cocktails, entrees, sides and desserts for a-V Day meal that keeps your night of romancing fun and—as is the nature of this most ridiculous of corporate holidays—a little absurd.
You might not be able to swing a spontaneous trip to some romantic getaway, but this appetizer is a like taking a mini-tour of two of the best foods New Orleans has to offer—beignets and chicory coffee. All dressed up with braised duck meat and a creamy foie gras sauce.
A pork pâté is a pretty rustic French dish. But it takes a little effort. What better way to make your special someone feel extra special than going out of your way to make the snacks before dinner a little nicer than Ritz crackers and cheddar cheese cubes.
Classic fondue, with a hint of kirsch, keeps your V-Day whimsical and fun (dunking your food in cheese sauce is always fun) and relatively easy on the set-up. Leaves you more time to find a music option less on-the-nose than Marvin Gaye to set the mood.
Don’t underestimate the power of this natural aphrodisiac. Or at least it’s potential placebo effect. Ramps aren’t quite in season, but you can use scallions instead.
Every night of romance needs a little something luxe. This year, let that little something be a few milligrams of caviar. Again, add a little whimsy with these buckwheat waffles instead of the traditional pancakes. (Don’t know where to even start with fish eggs? We got you covered with the VICE Guide to Caviar.)
Let everybody loosen up, but still keep it classy, with this CBD-laced martini.
Another riff on the classic martini, this time with caviar-infused bitters and top-of-the-line Russian vodka, from the skilled hands of the bartenders at London’s esteemed Ritz Hotel.
If you haven’t gotten over your Aperol Spritz obsession from summer of 2017, this cocktail, featuring a little splash of orange and grapefruit juices, is a lighter way to start your meal.
Alright, this drink might have a backstory that could jinx the hell out of your potential relationship future, but just call it something else when you serve it up to your date because this thing is good. Plus blood oranges and pomegranates are at their peak right now and you can impress with your knowledge of ~seasonal produce~.
If you want to keep your wits about you and make sure you don’t get embarrassingly sloppy-drunk before dessert, try this lower-alcohol cider and vermouth option and go slow.
We know it’s Valentine’s Day, but we’ll go to bat for this hot dog as the centerpiece of your meal. This is a hot dog—wrapped in bacon, slathered in truffle mayo, and covered in gruyere cheese—that says “I take my boardwalk food seriously, but not myself.” Def have some champagne with this to really get indulgent. (Saber safely though, y’all.)
Chicken cordon bleu is the kind of classic dish that looks kind of serious and old-school, but is in fact basically a rolled up, cheesy chicken schnitzel. SEXY, amiright?
Valentine’s Day is the day you go for broke with your menu planning. In this case, almost literally, because a cut of steak this good and this huge is going to cost a pretty penny. But you can skip the shitty roses, because this rib-eye will be worth it.
This is a meal where presentation matters. Go all out with a show stopper like this, and whatever you were hoping for at the end of the night is pretty likely to happen. Plus, more oysters can only help your case.
Lasagnas are a labor of love, without a doubt. Show your dedication to making this a meal to impress with this four-layer lasagna.
This asparagus and mushroom side is little spicy, a little gingery, but heavy on the umami and can go great with almost any main course.
Keep it light and bright with this super-easy-to-assemble salad. Check your teeth for Brussels sprouts afterward, though. (Just lookin’ out for you.)
Risotto is the kind of dish that, if prepared successfully, automatically makes the cook infinitely more date-able. It’s just science, trust us.
An update to the old stand-by of the classic green bean amandine recipe, with champagne vinegar and crispy, fatty bacon.
The combination of roasted beets, salty goat cheese, and toasted hazelnuts is impossible to improve upon. And if the conversation is lagging by this point in the meal, there is no end to beet-related puns you can bust out for cheap laughs.
We’re not exactly sure why molten chocolate cakes are basically synonymous with Valentine’s Day at this point—is oozing chocolate sexy? are thoughts of erupting volcanoes orgasmic? is everyone just really nostalgic for the Chili’s of their youth?—but this new recipe from Matty Matheson is damn good all the same.
Chocolate-covered strawberries are for chumps. Step it up a notch with chocolate-buckwheat pancakes drenched in a not-too-sweet berry coulis.
Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh created gluten-free perfection with this coconut-almond cake with a glossy chocolate ganache. So shiny. So perfect.
Kayden Kross, your friendly neighborhood porn star, is here to solve your dessert conundrum with build-your-own crepes, filled with chocolate, berries and whipped cream.
A slightly more amusing and interactive take on the grasshopper milkshake, for those who prefer to drink their dessert.