A Romantic Dinner for Two – Menu, Recipes and How to Pull it Off!

I wrote this post for Valentine’s Day, but it works for any time you want to be romatic.

Menu: Mussels Appetizer. Grilled Flank Steak, Grilled Veggies.  

Dessert:  Fruit and chocolate fondue

Bar: Pinot Grigio, Cabernet, Port  

OR  Sparkling or still water with lemon, espresso

This menus is for the cook at home, to make for someone you’re in love with and who loves you, since you will have garlic breath. OR, if you prefer, a great idea is to have sexy time BEFORE you eat it. And then make this in your bathrobe and enjoy it before a fire/ by candlelight.

Images shown are taken from around the web from similar recipes, I included them in case you’re from Mars and don’t know what a flank steak looks like. They retain their original copyrights.

I’ve included the logistics of how to throw it all together, since that’s half of what intimidates people about cooking.

Menu: Mussels Appetizer. Grilled Flank Steak, Grilled Veggies.  

Dessert:  Fruit and chocolate fondue

Bar: Pinot Grigio, Cabernet, Port  

OR  Sparkling or still water with lemon, espresso

Do ahead: Marinade, at least 1 hour

Prep Time: 30 minutes Cooking time: About 20 minutes


pound of mussels, scrubbed and debearded

1 1/2 c dry white wine such as Pinot Grigio (you can also serve the wine with the dish)

1/8 cup finely chopped Shallots

2 cloves minced garlic

A few pinches of tarragon, or you can also use sprigs of lemon thyme. Arugula also makes a nice garnish after steaming.

1 tsp coarse black pepper

1 tbsp  olive oil

3 tbsp Butter-esque substance that’s not as gross as butter. I use Earth Balance.

OPTIONAL: 6 oz stewed plum tomatoes. I sometimes like this, sometimes not.

Flank Steak, Marinated and Grilled 

You can marinate this up to 12 hours before, or that evening. I’ve allowed one hour for it in the timeline below. If you don’t have a grill, both the steaks and the squash can be pan-fried/ sauteed on the stove top.  

2 flank steaks

1/4 cup your favorite BBQ sauce. I use ones made with molasses instead of corn syrup. Add a bit of red wine or water to this to thin it so it will coat your steaks well.

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tsp coarse black pepper

Grilled Squash and Onions

2 each yellow and green zucchini squashes, halved lengthwise and chopped (about 2″ pieces)

1 half small white or yellow onion cut into 2″ pieces

1-2 tsp Olive oil

A few pinches of coarse black pepper and sea salt

1 sprig fresh or 2 tsp dried rosemary (leaves only. You can mince the fresh rosemary if you like).

Chocolate Fondue

 Ideally you’d use a double-boiler for this, but I’ve microwaved it before, you just have to use a glass container, and go in 30-second bursts and be very vigilant about stirring.

1/2 lb dark chocolate

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 tsp very finely ground espresso (optional)

3 tbsp orange liqueur (optional)

Zest of half an orange

Fruit such as strawberries, bananas, raspberries, oranges. (Use skewers for dipping.)

Here’s how to throw it all together:

Get all your ingredients at the store. (Can be night-of if you don’t work very late)

The night-of, set the table/mood if you’re looking to impress, or else have your honey do it while you cook. If you plan to shower/get ready, do the following first:

  • If necessary, scrub/debeard mussels and set in bowl in fridge.
  • Chop all garlic and onions.
  • Trim fat off steak.
  • Compile steak marinade.
  • Throw steak in marinade, put in fridge, throw wooden skewers in water to soak so that they don’t burn when you grill them.
  • Slice bread.
  • Compile mussels broth in stock pot on stove top.
  • Chop squash, mince rosemary.
  • Preheat your oven or toaster oven to heat up crusty bread.
  • Compile all fondue ingredients in pot or glass dish and cut up/wash fruit.

Clean up so you don’t smell like garlic and onions. Get pretty.

Here is where you can have sex if you want to do it while you have nice breath and aren’t full of food.

  • About 20 minutes before it’s time to eat, ask your honey to pour the white wine and set the table/ fireside picnic area and light fire/candles/turn on music. Announce that appetizers will begin in 20 minutes.
  • Thread your skewers and dust with olive oil and spices.
  • Take out meat from marinade and let it come to room temperature. Reserve the marinade in a small saucepan. Bring it to a boil and then simmer until thick, about 5 to 7 minutes. (Be careful to keep the heat low so it doesn’t carmelize).
  • Turn on heat on medium under mussels stock pot.
  • Throw bread in the oven/toaster oven on a baking sheet.
  • If you’re using an outdoor grill or heavy cast iron grill pan on stove top, turn it on now so it heats up.
  • When the stock is boiling, dump in your mussels and COVER, set the timer for 7 minutes.
  • Turn off oven and reduced steak sauce.
  • Let mussels steam until opened. (Discard any that did not open). Get out bread.
  • Serve mussels immediately in a bowl, with hot crusty bread for the broth.

After your mussels, put the steaks on the grill. While you grill, the red wine can be opened and decanted if necessary.

STEAKS: Grill on medium heat for 6 minutes per side for rare, about 7-8 minutes for medium-rare.  While they’re grilling on one side, heat up the marinade on low flame.

SKEWERS: Throw them on when you flip the steaks. They should take about as long as one side of a steak. Grill until they’re done, turning once.  (They’ll be hot, with grill marks…Don’t over-cook them, they’ll get mushy.)

Enjoy your dinner.

AFTER DINNER: Ensure your honey has something to sip on and excuse yourself to the kitchen. For your fondue, either heat in the microwave for a few minutes at 30-second intervals, or else in a double-boiler for about 7 minutes. Either way, stir it constantly so that it does not gum up and stays glossy. If you need to, add more cream by teaspoonfuls to thin it. Serve warm, with fruit for dipping.



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