The table of two is a restaurateur's worst nightmare. Our resident chef Mark Hix wants Valentine's Day diners to team up

 
Mark Hix

Today, in case you needed a last minute reminder, is Valentine’s Day, the one day of the year on which we are bound by law to exchange flowers, chocolates and those little bears holding love hearts with insufferably twee phrases embroidered on them.

Perhaps like me you try to avoid the whole ordeal. Or perhaps, as many couples will attempt this evening, you’d like to go out for a romantic meal for two. My (admittedly self-serving) recommendation as a restaurateur would be to consider double (or even triple) dating if you can, because there’s nothing quite so slow as a dining room full of tables of two on Valentine’s Day.

And if you don’t know any other couples, just grab anyone you can find. A friend of mine used to regularly escape alone to Burgh Island in Devon for a bite to eat, and when he unwittingly found himself dining alone in a corner on the 14th, a couple took pity and invited him to join their table for drinks. Where the evening went after that is anyone’s guess.

If you haven’t sorted out a reservation by now, chances are you’ll be cooking dinner at home for your beloved – but what? I think sharing food is always a winner when it comes to romantic endeavours, so I’d suggest a touch of luxury with a bowl of langoustines with mayonnaise to start, and then a steak, whole chicken or duck for the main course. You can tear into these with your bare hands and get messy enough to warrant a bubble bath for dessert.

And let’s not forget about the alcohol. If you can turn your hand to a bit of cocktail making (the below recipe is hardly challenging), you’ll start your evening off with a bang.

Hix Valentine's Cocktail

The Hix Fix - Valentine's Cocktail Recipe

I walked into my Fish House restaurant in Lyme Regis one Friday night to find the words “Hix Fix” chalked up on the window. When I asked Johnny, my manager, what on earth it was, he said it was a cocktail made from Julian Temperley’s cherries in his eau de vie, popped into a glass of champagne.

I thought it might prove a bit strong for some of the customers, but as I looked around the restaurant most tables seemed to be enjoying it. It’s a very romantic combination, especially as we now serve it in Marie Antoinette champagne saucers.

Ingredients

  • Two Julian Temperley cherries in eau de vie* £ 2 glasses of champagne

Method

  • Place a cherry with a teaspoon or so of the liquor in the bottom of 2 champagne glasses, preferably saucers.
  • Top up with cold, delightfully fizzy champagne and serve.

*To buy Julian’s eau de vie or apple brandies, visit ciderbrandy.co.uk, or telephone 01460 240782

Related articles