Home for Valentine's

Spiced Vegetarian Scotch Egg with mango chutney by Nick Male.

Spiced Vegetarian Scotch Egg with mango chutney by Nick Male. - Credit: Nick Male

I have always found eating out on Valentine’s to be a bit stressful – you need to book weeks ahead, pay a fortune, and then you all sit in rows of couples, under pressure to be fascinating company. So, if that resonates with you – this is your year!

It is completely acceptable to order a takeaway and stay in, and in fact, you are Supporting Local, and doing your thing for the community. Win win. 

Here is my round up of some of the most delicious options out there (feel free to order on other days too!): 

Nick Male, owner of Seed & Grain and formerly at Loft, is one of our very best local chefs. He is doing his usual very popular three-course set menu (£25pp), which includes ham hock terrine, spiced scotch egg, seabass and chicken schnitzel and double chocolate tart with raspberries.

He is doing some special dishes for Valentine's, including a seafood platter with rye bread and Bloody Mary dressing and a 32-day dry-aged sirloin joint with parsley crust, roast potatoes and various lovely things to go with (£10pp supplement, for each). Email nick.male71@gmail.com  for availability. 

Chandler’s Little Eatery in Redbourn is a hit with the villagers for roast lunches, and their Valentine dinner sounds great too, especially for those wanting vegan and vegetarian options. For £30 per person you get three courses, free local delivery, and chocolates.

Starters include trout salad with apple, ginger cream and grapefruit; game terrine; or squash with honeyed fennel, pear and sesame. The main courses include swordfish; chicken stuffed with mushroom and salami butter; or melanzane in pepperdew sauce.

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For pud, how about gin, lime and elderflower sorbet or caramel cheesecake? Email chandlerseatery@gmail.com for availability and to order. If you live in Redbourn, it’s well worth following their Facebook page for weekly menus.  

The Fleetville Larder are doing a nice little hamper for £25 which includes a Clemency Hall heart-shaped cheese, Shiraz, crackers and chutney, and they are a great place to head to buy wines, local beers, chocs and other things too, if you need a present.

A Valentine's hamper from The Fleetville Larder.

A Valentine's hamper from The Fleetville Larder. - Credit: The Fleetville Larder

If cocktails are your thing – and this one is perfect for if you live with friends too – Fighting Cocktails is doing a delivery of six cocktails, including Peach and Rose Fizz, Pink Gin Fizz, and Grown-up Lemonade (‘a seriously stiff lemonade with vodka, prosecco and limoncello). You get a bottle of Prosecco to make them, and all the garnishes, which sounds fun. They are available all weekend (February 12-14) and it costs £38 including local delivery. 

Valentine’s overlaps with Chinese New Year, so why not combine the two? Lime Face is doing an amazing Prosperity Menu for Saturday February 13. For two people, you get six dishes and rice for £49. You start with smoked salmon Yee Sang Prosperity Salad, then move on to Cantonese Roast Duck and Kung Po chicken, with Buddha’s Delight (stir-fried vegetables with shitake mushrooms and tofu puffs), and prawn and ginger dumplings. If you are a family, that might well be enough for all of you! Please order by February 10, so be quick. 

Lussmanns are doing Luxury Celebration Boxes (£90 for two), including lobster, steak and fish, each served with matching wines. For example, the Fish Box includes Hampshire Chalk Stream trout with dill, capers, pickled radish and shallots, with Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Brut NV. The main course is halibut prepared ‘en papillote’, with spinach, parsley, capers and lemon, with alpine fries and vegetables. Chablis Dom is the wine selection. Pudding is homemade sticky date pudding with mascarpone.

Lussmanns Fish Box.

Lussmanns Fish Box. - Credit: Lussmanns

These boxes are not just available for Valentine's, so if you have a special anniversary or birthday coming up, book in via their website: www.lussmanns.com

If you prefer something more relaxed, to eat at any time, or want to send something to friends or family, Maria’s in Harpenden is doing a Valentine’s Afternoon Tea for £20 per person. You can choose finger sandwiches including smoked salmon and cream cheese; mozzarella, pesto and tomato; ham etc, followed by freshly baked scones with clotted cream and jam, mini cupcakes, meringues, macaroons and brownies. Ring 01582 712700 for availability and to order. 

With all of these offers, check for availability as soon as possible, and of course, if fully booked, do order another time.