Perfect French Valentine’s Menu 2020

If you’re looking for a French Valentine’s Day menu or a romantic French menu for any day, you’ve come to the right place! Go traditional with a classic French bistro menu.


Steak with Brandy-Mustard Sauce. I know it sounds like a rank stereotype, but Men. Love. This. Recipe.

I love dining out as much as the next food lover, but for Valentine’s Day, I tend to avoid the crowds and dine in. And for some reason, I always go tout classique for the year’s most romantic meal, and star a beautiful Filet de Boeuf au Eschallotes, Moutarde, et Cognac (though any good brandy will do just fine here). This is the type of rich, luscious and traditional French recipe that made French cooking famous in years gone by—and I just love revisiting it once in a while, especially when I feel like cozying up and staying inside for the evening with Mr. Sportcoat. Serve it with simple pommes rissolées—French browned potatoes—plus some green beans, cooked French style.

Belgian Endive Salad with Blue Cheese and Walnuts. A great salad for winter. Photo by Richard Swearinger.

Belgian Endive Salad with Blue Cheese and Walnuts. A great French bistro salad.

Here’s my complete menu; the steak recipe appears below. You can click on the links for the other recipes. Enjoy!

• Appetizers: Keep in simple! Choose from My Happy Hour Crackers (when you get to that page, scroll down just a bit for the photo + recipe), my Pâté Canapés, or Gougères (which of course, you’ve made ahead because you’ve followed my great advice and have kept some ready to bake in the freezer, right?
• First course: Endive, Walnut, and Blue Cheese Salad. It’s one of the best winter salads you can make!
• Main course: Beef Tenderloin Steaks with Shallot-Brandy-Mustard Sauce (recipe below), plus Pommes Rissolées (French Browned Potatoes) and Green Beans, cooked French style.
• Dessert: Crèpes. Again, you did follow my advice, and you have some in the freezer, right?

To drink?: You know I’m a huge fan of blanc de noirs sparkling wines, right? Especially those from Alsace. They’re made with Pinot Noir, and they go with everything! Pour it with appetizers and through dessert (yes, including with the steak–it works!). But if you must have a good French red to go with the steak, I love this Chateau Blaignan Cru Bourgeois Mèdoc.

Enjoy, mes amis!


French Steak with Mustard, Brandy, and Shallot Sauce
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
  • 2 6-ounce, 1-inch-thick tenderloin steaks
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup finely chopped shallot
  • ½ cup low-sodium beef broth
  • ½ cup brandy, Cognac, or Armagnac
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves, chopped
  1. Season both sides of the steaks with salt and pepper, to taste. In a medium skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium-high heat. Add the steaks and cook, turning as needed, to the desired doneness (10-12 minutes for medium-rare). Reduce heat as necessary if the meat browns too quickly.
  2. Transfer the steaks to a platter and cover with foil to keep warm. Add the shallot to the skillet and sauté briefly until translucent. Remove the pan from heat and add the broth and brandy, taking care not to let the liquid splatter.
  3. Return the pan to the stove and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring with a whisk to loosen any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Boil until the liquid is reduced to ⅓ cup, about 2-3 minutes depending on the stove and the pan size.
  4. Whisk in the mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Then, whisk in the remaining butter. Season with additional salt and pepper, to taste. Arrange the steaks on 2 dinner plates, spoon the sauce over the steaks, top with the parsley, and serve.

PS: Your Best Steaks Deserve the Best Steak-Knives. Laguiole are my favorite for serving anything French–chicken, pork chops, beef, and more.

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