As wedding caterers, it doesn’t get much more romantic for us than crafting bespoke menus for couples planning their wedding day. Our menus are often created based on three special things…where the happy couple met, where they fell in love and their absolute favourite food and drink. Love, food and the celebration of these three ingredients is what we do day to day at Caviar & Chips!
So with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, we thought we’d come up with some of the most romantic menus we could think of to knock yours and your partner’s socks off!
Now we’d be doing you a disservice if we gave you just one menu. So we got our Head Chef, Mike Scott to stir up his creative juices and craft five delicious menus that are just perfect for an alluring evening of love and romance. Mike has written these menus based on various types of cuisine or styles of eating, and we hope they offer some inspiration to light up your heart and your appetite!
Menu one: For the love of all things British
Smoked Pheasant, Jerusalem artichoke Purée, King Oyster Mushroom, Blue Cheese Beignets, Black Pudding & Apple
We’re so lucky that Britain has some of the best produce in the world. The seasons providing us with their bounty to enjoy again and again. There are two courses here where the main focus is Game which is certainly in season now. For the starter course, a beautifully smoked Pheasant – roasted on the bone before being basted in herb butter. I’ve paired it with an earthy purée of Jerusalem Artichokes (one of my favourite root vegetables) and meaty King Oyster Mushrooms. Alongside is a rich black pudding to add some texture and bulk to the plate. To balance the dish, I’ve added a salty, creamy Stilton and plenty of crisp fresh apple.
Next up is the main course and for this dish I’m going to be tender with a delicious pan-roasted Duck.
Pan-roasted Duck Breast, Duck Leg & Chocolate Roulade, Spinach, Heritage Carrots, Cherry Chocolate Jus
Crispy skin, soft meat, and a roulade of braised leg meat and dark chocolate – what’s not to love?! Game and chocolate work really well together, be it Pigeon, Venison, or in this case, Duck – it just goes beautifully. However, the pairing of rich Duck meat and rich chocolate needs managing. So I’ve added some spinach for fresh greens flavour and sweet anise-infused heritage carrots to level the playing field. To cut through the flavours, cherries are a wonderful option – especially with Duck.
After these two hearty dishes, I imagine you’ll both want to lighten things up for the dessert, so here is a British classic for you, Lemon Meringue Pie!
Lemon Meringue Pie, Chambord Cream & Raspberry Coulis
Zingy lemon curd, crispy, flaky pastry, lighter-than-air, sweet meringue….what more do you want? This pie features an Italian meringue, set over the curd filling before being lightly baked and then torched to bring out a multitude of flavours and textures.
Lemon and raspberry is a classic combination, so I’ve gone with Chambord cream – based on a raspberry liqueur, and a sweet raspberry coulis to garnish the dish.
This really is a great way to round-off this ‘Best of British’ meal before you snuggle up on the sofa with a glass of something special.
Menu two: A love affair in Asia
It’s Chinese New Year and the year of the Ox on 12th February – just two days before Valentine’s Day. So I thought it appropriate to include an Asian-inspired menu here. For me, Asian cuisine includes the most fantastic aromatics, always over-delivering on scent and flavour, and also lends itself wonderfully to meat, fish, and vegetables alike. A menu to light up your senses is exactly what we want to stir up some passion.
Seared King Scallops, Mango Chilli Salsa
This is simple, light, and incredibly fresh. Mango Chilli Salsa is one of my favourite garnishes, and works beautifully with the sweet Scallops here. Diced ripe mango is combined with cucumber, red onion, red chilli, coriander, lime juice and a little oil. The dish itself is literally just scallops and the salsa – again a wonderful pairing. For me it really doesn’t need anything else. The ingredients on the plate sing together and that’s all they need to do.
Monkfish Curry, Fine Beans & Coriander with Jasmine Rice
Next up is a vibrant Red Curry, utilising some of the amazing ingredients that features in Thai Cuisine. Red and green chilli, lemongrass, Thai basil, fish sauce, coconut milk and ginger.
I cook the fish in a pan to begin with, in order to develop some golden brown colour and texture. Then poach it the rest of the way in the sauce, allowing both elements to share flavour with each other. I do the same with the beans, tossed quickly in the juices from the Monkfish before being finished together in the sauce. If you’ve ever eaten Thai street-food, you’ll know there is usually a selection of toppings to complete your dish, and this is the case here. I recommend some micro coriander – for some punch to bring out the existing coriander in the curry. Thinly sliced red and green chilli and spring onion. I’d leave it there personally but you can add chopped roasted peanuts or chilli flakes if you want to start getting carried away!
Matcha & White Chocolate Mousse, Hazelnut Sponge & Cherry Compote
For dessert, chocolate and cherry is a match made in heaven. However, between the sweet, creamy chocolate flavour and the more tart cherry, there is room for the matcha to stand up to some of that richness. Hazelnut is a personal favourite of mine and gives another dimension to the flavour and texture. A rochelle of mousse over some white chocolate crumb, the cherry compote and fresh cherries dotted around, and torn pieces of sponge filling in the gaps…mmmm!
Menu three: A passion for plant-based
The interest and variety in plant-based food has come on so much in recent years and it`s fantastic to see this embraced. Dietary alternatives certainly shouldn’t be an after-thought and I know many vegans and vegetarians who are very bored by the thought of risotto followed by melon!
Here I’ve written a menu comprised of dishes that highlight the progress of plant-based ingredients, but not purely for the sake of using them. These tasty, colourful delights will bring a spark to your romantic evening with your loved one, and I really hope you enjoy them.
Three-Way Beetroot & Tomato Salad
To start things off, I’ve got a Beetroot and Tomato Salad. With simple ingredients comes the need to bring the best out of them, and to create a combination of flavours and textures to amuse and satisfy the palate. Starting with the beetroot, I’m presenting it in three ways – roasted, pickled and powdered. The roasted beetroot is earthy and provides the depth of flavour the dish needs, while the pickled version brings acidity – it’s also raw so provides bite.
The powder nicely coats elements on the dish, allowing the beetroot flavour to permeate through each mouthful. For the Tomatoes, I’m using Heirloom Tomatoes, bringing subtle differences in flavour, as well as an amazing contrast of colours. They’ve been marinated in salt, sugar and a little balsamic vinegar, to bring out their natural sweetness and to fuse with the flavour of the beetroot.
Stuffed Courgette, Herb Crumb, Tenderstem & Spinach Salad
This main course is a little lighter, but full of flavour and texture. Roasted whole courgettes are opened up and stuffed with an intense, reduced Mediterranean vegetable salsa, before being topped with a crisp herb crumb. I then pack them full of parsley, tarragon, chives, mint and seasoning. This adds crunch to each mouthful, contrasting with the softened courgette and the jewelled salsa. The spinach and tenderstem salad provides some levity, texture again, and the sweetness from the broccoli really compliments the other vegetables.
Chocolate & Raspberry
Now you’re in for a real treat with this dessert. Chocolate and raspberry is my absolute favourite flavour combination in a chocolate dessert, and here I’ve combined the two in a number of ways. Firstly, we’ll start with the base, made from a shortbread and raspberry crumb. I’m using crispy raspberries that have been freeze-dried as they provide a nice crunch and have an insane raspberry flavour! Secondly, there is a tart raspberry sorbet. This icy addition makes the dish more playful by contrasting the temperatures you experience when eating. Some fresh raspberries and a raspberry jelly round up the fruit. Now we require the chocolate elements to balance. Straight away I’ve gone with a rich, creamy, dark chocolate ganache to provide a deep, bitter dimension. I’ve also added some crispy biscuit pearls, coated in chocolate. Finally, the theatrical showpiece of the dessert – the sphere. A Dark chocolate sphere, filled with a chocolate mousse, a little Raspberry coulis and some light chocolate sponge. All hidden within the sphere, you can both have some fun smashing it open to reveal the tasty filling.
Menu four: A romance in France!
When it comes to Love, the French have historically been top of their game, especially when it comes to food. Rich meats, butter and cream – they certainly know how to put on a spread and create an ambience. Anyone who’s ever had a romantic meal in the close atmosphere of a French Bistro will attest to the fact that the feeling is in a league of its own. This menu features some French classics, but the feel of the menu is decadence and luxury. Lobster, Beef Fillet, Chocolate – it’s all the good stuff in one tasty menu!
Lobster Soufflé, Samphire & Lobster Bisque
The Soufflé is perhaps one of the most revered dishes in the culinary world. Many a chef is terrified of the cooking process, fraught with danger at almost every turn! Seriously though, there are some pitfalls during the cooking process, but by sticking to the rules and being patient (don’t open the oven!) They’re very simple. This Lobster Soufflé is obviously savoury, and savoury ones are typically a little more robust and hold their shape once cooked. Nevertheless, make sure you tuck straight in once they come out of the oven! I’ve garnished with some buttery, salty, crunchy samphire to help season and provide texture, and a rich, thick Lobster Bisque to finish the dish.
Fillet of Beef, Braised Ox Cheek, Boulangère Potato with Port Reduction
Next up, we have a rich-yet-delicate beef dish, combining both premium and affordable cuts of beef. Served alongside flavoursome potatoes, and a sticky, punchy jus. The beef cuts used are fillet – the highest grade of the meat, lean and buttery-soft to eat. And then Ox Cheek (remember it’s the year of the Ox!) A well worked muscle that requires slow, gentle cooking to make it fall apart in your mouth. These two cuts of meat are a serious and evocative flavour combination.
The Boulangère Potatoes are simply sliced and layered before being cooked in beef stock, and so provide a further hit of beefy goodness. Baby carrots are light and sweet, and so help balance with the richness of the dish, and spinach helps to lighten everything up and give texture. Finally, the Port reduction is sticky, a little sweet, and very powerful, so only requires to be used sparingly. This isn’t the largest of courses, purely due to how intense the flavours are. I wouldn’t want you to peak too soon and particularly before dessert!
A Symphony of Chocolate
This is the ultimate chocolate showstopper. A classic French delice – somewhere between a Ganache and a Mousse. Topped with chocolate-coated cocoa nibs and popping candy for a little fun. It’s served alongside (now prepare yourself…) a dark chocolate ganache, milk chocolate, caramel-flavoured chocolate cylinder, caramelised white chocolate mousse, white chocolate sauce, milk chocolate ice cream, brioche croutons and a drizzle of honey. An absolute winner for chocolate lovers everywhere!
Menu five: It’s more romantic to share
Valentine’s Day is a time for love, a time for romance, and a time for sharing. Because of this, I wouldn’t be able to complete my menu selection without adding a sharing menu! So, Oysters to start, a stuffed Saddle of Lamb for the main, and a giant Ferrero Rocher for Dessert.
Oysters are renowned all over the world for being an aphrodisiac, and so why not start off your romantic dinner by sharing a plate of them! I’ve decided to serve them with some dressings that aren’t your typical fare, but feel free to use the traditional Tabasco or Mignonette.
I’ve gone with jalapeńo, gherkin and pickled cucumber for a refreshing, vibrant taste with an added kick of heat. There’s also apple and horseradish again to contrast tart and cooling with warming, mustardy heat. Finally, a fennel butter, peppered with chopped herbs to give a mellow flavour to the Oyster. I’m sure you know the rules on how to eat an Oyster, but just for clarification – dress them and then swallow them down! Don’t forget to indulge in the cheesey love moment by linking each other’s arms to eat one (with a glass of Champagne). Now get ready for the main course.
Garlic, Herb & Goat’s Cheese-stuffed Saddle of Lamb, Potato Pavé, Asparagus & Charred Broccoli with Lamb Jus
Lamb is perfect for a romantic meal, and it’s incredibly versatile, so you can go wherever you like with different cuts and garnishes. For this menu, I’ve chosen a stuffed Saddle. It’s technically more complex than a lot of Lamb dishes, however the results are more than worth it. I’ve made a coarse stuffing from garlic, rosemary, mint, parsley, chives and shallots. Then spread a whipped Goat’s cheese over the inside of the Saddle, before adding the stuffing, rolling up the meat and roasting it. The Goat’s cheese softens and seasons while the herbs and garlic permeate and create a wonderful flavour and aroma. The Pavé of Potato has some technique to it too. I thinly slice squares of potato before slowly cooking in garlic oil. Once cooked, they’re pressed together and finished by cooking in foaming butter, to crisp up the exterior and make it richer. Broccoli is my favourite vegetable and I love using the much-wasted stalk. Slicing florets in half but retaining the stalk, blanching, then charring gives a wonderful smokey note, while crisping up some of the floret which is a texture-full dream!
This is just a huge win in my book. It’s a giant Ferrero Rocher – about the size of a tennis ball! So much fun to smash open and share. I start with a small, truffle-sized ball of nutella, into which I stick a few toasted whole hazelnuts. I allow this to freeze so that I can handle it later. I’ve made a dark chocolate sphere, lined with crispy wafer, and filled with a hazelnut mousse. Before joining the two halves of the sphere together, I push the nutella centre in so it loosens but only while encased in the rocher. Once this is all together, I dip it into a mixture of milk chocolate and chopped toasted hazelnuts, before finally dusting with edible gold powder to simulate it’s little wrapper. The result is fantastic I can assure you, and will certainly remind you of those little luxury chocolate morsels we all know and love!
So there you have it, my five Valentine’s Day menus, suitable for a wide range of tastes and preferences. So dig in, eat your fill, and enjoy a wonderful, romantic Valentine’s together.