Romance Without Reservations: Plan a Romantic Dinner for Two with Oliver’s

Who says you have to spend big and vie for a table on one of the busiest days of the year for restaurants in order to enjoy a deliciously romantic evening? This Valentine’s Day, show your sweetheart some love, avoid the crowds, and dine in this year. Whether you pick up a couple of things pre-made, or do it all from scratch, Oliver’s has all the makings for a sumptuous feast for two that’ll have you and your special someone feeling the love! Follow the suggestions here and create a flawless meal that’ll have your dinner date more impressed with you than they already were! With decadent ingredients like Oliver’s Choice filet mignon, juicy lobster tails, and tender stalks of asparagus, plus wines perfect for your meal and decadent desserts, Oliver’s is your ticket for one seriously romantic — and delicious —  Valentine’s Day!

*Prices in effect through 2/14/24.

For novice and experienced home cooks alike, planning a romantic Valentine’s evening at home can be a daunting task. All that timing and planning can make one wish they had just made the reservation after all! But really, nothing says “I love you” better than a home-cooked meal! If you’re nervous about taking the plunge, don’t be: Oliver’s is in your corner, and we’re going to give your Valentine’s Day the upgrade you and your sweetie have always deserved. We’ve put together a detailed, fool-proof plan for the ultimate in romantic dinners: seared filet mignon with broiled lobster tails, sautéed asparagus, and homemade mashed potatoes!

Intimidated? Don’t be – we’ll break it down step-by-step so there are no surprises and no obstacles on your way to V-day perfection. From start to finish, Oliver’s will take you gently by the hand and lead you into the garden of love. Review the plan, check out the alternate suggestions and dessert ideas, and create your own intimate meal for two.

First, your shopping list: To make this delicious repast as listed, you will need 2 Oliver’s Choice Filet Mignon steaks ($22.99/lb), 2 thawed Wild Caught Lobster Tails ($9.99/ea), 1 bunch  Asparagus ($3.49/lb), 1 pound of Yukon Gold potatoes, Loaf of bread (if desired), 7 cloves of garlic, 1 large shallot, 1 large lemon, 4 oz. sharp white cheddar cheese, 1 cup of heavy cream, 1 stick of butter (4 oz.), fresh Rosemary, Thyme, and Parsley, olive oil, paprika, garlic powder, Kosher salt, and pepper.

Plus, we’ve got dessert ideas below, so read on for those.

5pm – Prep Ingredients & Tidy Space (This schedule results in dinner service at 6:30pm, so adjust as needed)

Prepping ingredients ahead of time will make everything much faster when you go to cook, and since we’ll be knocking down dishes like dominoes, having everything prepped before you start will make the process as smooth as possible. You may want to clear some room in your fridge before starting this particular step, as everything you prep will need to be kept cold until you’re ready to use it. For this particular meal, you will need to prep the following:

  • Asparagus – trim the woody ends and clean the stalks. For thicker stalks, slice in half lengthwise if desired.
  • Garlic – grate 4 cloves, then smash 3 additional cloves
  • Shallots – Mince 1 large shallot
  • Lemon – slice in half, then slice one half into thin rounds and the other into quarters
  • Potatoes – peel and evenly cut into 1″ cubes, then place in a water bath to prevent discoloration
  • Herbs – rinse & dry 3 sprigs each of fresh rosemary and thyme, finely chop about ¼ cup fresh parsley
  • Cheese – grate about ½ c. Sharp White Cheddar
  • Filets — Prep each filet mignon by patting them with paper towels to remove any excess moisture, then liberally season both steaks all sides with plenty of salt and pepper and let them come to room temperature

You will want to store everything you prep in tightly sealed containers, and make sure to keep everything cold (except filets) until you need it to prevent spoilage. This is also a good time to tidy up your space, set the mood with candles or decorations, clear and clean the table, or wash any dishes remaining in your kitchen. Remember, no matter what anyone says, nothing is sexier than a delicious meal in a clean house.

Pans you will need: covered pot for potatoes; covered saute pan for asparagus; foil wrapped sheet pan for lobster tails; cast iron frying pan for filet mignon

Gadgets you will need: Along with spatulas, spoons, etc., you will need a Potato Masher

5:30pm – Chill Wine & Set Table

If you’re planning on serving wine with your meal, now is a good time to chill it if needed – we have some great options this week, including 2021 Hanna Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc, $16.99+crv; 2020 Martin Ray Sonoma County Rose, $13.99+crv; J Cuvee 20 Sparkling Wine, $29.99+crv; and Olema Cremant de Loire Sparkling Brut – 750 ml. bottle, $17.99+crv. A nice, supple red wine option for the filet might be 2021 Mazzocco Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel, featured at a very special price of $16.99+crv.

Since this is a special meal, it deserves a beautifully set table! If you normally use paper napkins, consider investing in a set of cloth napkins; they’ll be great for future entertaining, and they’re an eco-friendly alternative to paper. Use what you have to dress up your table for the evening: From tiny lights or votives, to greens clipped from your yard, to the gorgeous flowers you picked up at Oliver’s, there is no wrong answer here! Do include both a steak knife and a butter knife in your table setting, as well as wine glasses (if serving wine) and water glasses.

6pm – Start Water Boiling for Potatoes & Preheat Broiler

Now it’s time to start cooking, so grab an apron and get ready for a romantic and delicious meal!

Drain the potatoes you prepped earlier and transfer them to a large pot, then fill the pot with enough water to cover the potatoes by about 2 inches. Cover the potatoes, and set the pot on a burner, preferably the highest powered one on the stove, and turn on high. This is also the perfect time to start the broiler – we’ll be broiling our lobster tails, so preheating is a must. You can also prepare a sheet pan by lining it with aluminum foil.

6:10 – Begin Cooking

Heat a large saute pan on medium high with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and add shallots and let them cook for a minute and then add asparagus. Season lightly with garlic powder, salt, and pepper, then toss so that everything in the pan is evenly seasoned. Add about ¼ cup of water to the pan and cover tightly, reducing heat to medium-low.

After covering asparagus, arrange thawed lobster tails on prepared baking sheet, separating the meat just slightly from the shell and tucking lemon slices into the space. Remember the garlic we grated earlier? Split it in half, reserving the rest for later; Season each lobster tail lightly with paprika, salt, and pepper, then spread half of the remaining garlic paste on the meat of each tail. Top each tail with 2 tablespoons of butter, one pat on either end of the tail, and stick under the broiler. By this time, the potatoes should also have come to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer and uncover, then set a timer for 10 minutes. The lobster tails should also only take 10 minutes.

Your timer may ring while doing the next step below, so listen for that and quickly decide whether lobster tails look done and potatoes are soft (fork should easily pierce). If not, give them another minute or two.

Heat a large cast iron skillet until hot, then melt 2 tablespoons of butter. When pan is very hot but not yet smoking, lay seasoned steaks into pan; allow the steaks to sear for 3 to 4 minutes, without moving them. Doing this will help your steaks get that signature crusty sear and keep them tender and moist. After four minutes, flip the steaks. Continue to sear the steaks without touching them for about 2 minutes, then add 2 tablespoons of butter, rosemary and thyme sprigs, and smashed garlic cloves to the pan. Tilt the pan towards you slightly so the butter pools around the herbs and garlic, then spoon the infused butter continuously over the steaks as they finish cooking, about 2 to 3 minutes more. To test for doneness, press gently in the middle of the steaks. If they are very soft and do not bounce back at all, your steaks are very rare; on the opposite end, if the steak is very firm and has no give, it is well-done. Ideally, a steak should have some give but still be reasonably firm –  this is how you know you have a perfect, medium-rare filet mignon.

6:25pm – Finishing Touches

By this time, your potatoes should be fork tender, your steaks should be a perfect medium-rare, and your lobster tails should be opaque and cooked through. Pull the lobster tails from the broiler first to keep them from overcooking. If the asparagus spears are not yet cooked all the way, let them continue to cook while you finish your other dishes, otherwise remove them from the heat but keep them in the pan.

Remove your finished steaks from their pan, cover with foil, and transfer them to a plate where they will rest untouched for another 5 minutes, at LEAST. Doing this allows the juices to reabsorb and circulate back through the meat, keeping it juicy; cut into a steak before resting it, and you let out all the flavor and moisture you worked so hard to keep during cooking! While your steaks rest, drain potatoes completely, then roughly mash with a potato masher. Mix in 3-4 Tbsp. butter (cut into chunks) and the cheese, then add about 1/3 cup of heavy cream. Continue mashing until smooth, then stir in additional cream if needed until desired thickness is reached. Stir in reserved garlic paste, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

If you plan on serving any bread, now is a good time to warm and slice it, or simply give yourself a moment to breathe and refresh yourself before you tuck in.

Uncork your chilled wine (if you haven’t already!) and fill up a small carafe with water for the table. Select some music, light your candles, and prepare for a very special meal.

6:30pm – Bon Appetit!

For an elegant plating presentation, mound a serving of mashed potatoes in the center of each plate and top with 5 or 6 spears of asparagus, then gently lean a steak on one side and plate the lobster tail on the other.  Toast your dinner partner and enjoy every bite of your delicious dinner!

Dessert: We are featuring our completely decadent Chocolate Dipped Strawberries in our Bakery Department ($19.99/lb., LOCAL). We also have all kinds of other beautiful desserts in our Bakery, Fresh berry assortments washed and ready to go in our Produce Department, and plenty of long stemmed strawberries, too! Or maybe there is a favorite ice cream flavor that you share? We leave it to you to find the perfect sweet ending to your dinner.

Some Shortcuts to this menu: If this is all a little more than you have in mind after a busy workday, consider picking up a few items from our Chef’s Case. Our Risotto Cakes are divine and can be substituted for potatoes, or you can grab some prepared potatoes and plan to reheat them. Don’t forget our twice baked potatoes as another good alternative.

Other Additions: Add a simple appetizer from our Gourmet Cheese Department or Olive Bar. You could also skip the Lobster Tails and replace with prepared Prawns to create another type of ‘surf and turf’. How about a Champagne Cocktail or a Cupid’s Arrow Cosmo to start the evening off in style? If you would like other recipes or inspiration for more great Valentine’s Day recipes and ideas, click HERE! We have you covered with recipes for Lobster Mac and Cheese and more!

No matter what route you decide to take this Valentine’s Day, let Oliver’s help you show the special person in your life how much they matter to you. With produce that’s always the freshest and the highest quality meats and seafood, anyone can create a meal worthy of a five-star restaurant in their own kitchen. No matter how much you cook and how much you let Oliver’s handle for you,  and how much you prepare yourself, there’s truly no better way to say “I love you”!

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