The List Of Delicious: What Local Chefs Eat On Valentine’s Day

If your job is making delicious things in a city internationally known for delicious things, what would you eat with your loved on Valentine’s Day? We asked a handful of chefs for their at-home menus and desires and also where they might go if they did not feel like spending time in their own kitchens.

Alison Settle  |  chef
Barn8 at Hermitage Farm
My go-to romantic spot for Valentine’s Day is Storming Crab in Clarksville. I don’t think there’s anything hotter or more fun than a steaming platter of spicy, succulent seafood. For a cozy dinner at home, I’m a steakhouse girl! There’s nothing better than a fatty steak, a punchy red wine, and rich, creamy sides.

Patrick Roney  |  executive chef
Ashbourne Farms
“It has always been surf and turf with prime fillet and Maine lobster, with bordelaise and béarnaise. We wash it down with Billecart-Salmon Brut Rose. That day also happens to be my wife’s birthday. We never go out on Valentine’s. I tend to break my bank on purses, shoes or vacations. Plus, nobody is making a better surf and turf than me :). I also proposed after I cooked her that meal on our second Valentine’s together.”

Ming Pu  |  executive chef, partner
The 502 Bar and Bistro
“For us, it would be a cocktail at Proof On Main and dinner at the bar at Jack Fry’s. My girlfriend and I love the shrimp and grits, brie salad and pork chop with potato hash at Jack Fry’s along with a nice bottle of wine and finishing the night with the Creme Caramel dessert and the Malachi Manhattan. She loves the ambience of Proof On Main and also how romantic Jack Fry’s feels.”

Madeleine Dee aka The Seasoned Cynic
chef, writer, filmmaker and menu consultant
“Our go-to Valentine’s Day meal is sushi! My partner, Liam, and I make it at home. We usually prepare temari, but sometimes rolls. We get all our fish and seafood from Highland Fish Market in Chenoweth Square, our Asian staples from Choi’s, and our wine and bourbon from The Wine Rack. I’m a chocolate fiend, but Liam makes amazing lemon bars that are my favorite treat to follow the meal. If I were to come up with a lazier but just as wonderful meal, I’d prepare a huge, cheese and charcuterie board with wine from The Wine Rack and chocolates to finish from Art Eatables.”

Reed Johnson  |  executive chef
Wiltshire at The Speed Art Museum
“When I was younger, and again when Kristyn and I got together, we spent a lot of time dining in The Highlands and on Frankfort Avenue. But it’s just changed so much. … St. Mathews and Hurstbourne are way too corporate for us. We are right in the middle of all of the expansion going on in Southern Indiana, so we have been having a great time supporting downtown Jeffersonville and Ian Hall’s establishments in New Albany [The Exchange and Brooklyn and the Butcher] and all of the kick-ass taquerias in the Little Mexico area of Clarksville.”

Andrew McCabe  |  chef
Bar Vetti
There is not one specific meal I find romantic, but instead the time spent picking out your ingredients together is the fun part! Typically on Sundays, you‘ll find us at the Rainbow Blossom farmers market or walking the aisles at Whole Foods, enjoying a beer, picking out a couple  cheeses and creating a meal for that evening. 

Marsha Lynch
LEO Industry Standard columnist, chef
“At home, I like to prepare something that takes a little more time and effort than what we usually find ourselves eating on a daily basis. Some beautiful handmade Thai pork dumplings with a bold dipping sauce, or chicken and homemade dumplings with crispy chicken chicharrones. For dining out, it’s Seviche, for us. We always leave there happy.”

Eric Morris  |  chef, owner
Faces Bar/Bistro
“So ‘if’ I was in a relationship, and I was cooking, I’d definitely make it all about her. I have the ability to make myself most anything in the restaurant so it would totally be her call (maybe a few aphrodisiacs thrown in). If we were going out to eat I’d probably choose Seviche or Ostra. Both of those just have this great intimate/romantic vibe to them and always make for a great date night out on the town.”

Jonathan Exum  |  food and beverage director
Jeptha Creed Distillery
“Never able to go out on Valentine’s Day proper. But for the romance to be two way, I am definitely not cooking. My go-to restaurants with the wife would be Wiltshire On Market, seeings how I have the hook-up there. We are both huge Italian fans so bar Vetti or ROC, both have amazing food. Huge fan of Anoosh Bistro. Great people work there. Plus, Anoosh is one of the reasons I came to Louisville. Also a romantic night could be getting some fantastic Mexican to go and eating it in bed while watching 20-year-old shows we fell behind on.”

Paul Skulas  |  chef, owner
“My wife and I have been together for over five years now. Every Valentine’s we’ve had together has been spent at White Castle. We make reservations weeks out. They make it fun, so table service, and they dress up the interior of the restaurant.”

Dallas McGarity  |  chef, owner
Fat Lamb, Portage House
“Since we have two little ones, we don’t get to have romantic dinners at home, but if we were, I’d say my go-to romantic meal would be some sort of crazy vegetable salad and homemade falafel with tzatziki. Those flavors are probably what I crave the most and enjoy cooking. I think our romantic date place around town when we do go out is Mayan Cafe. Chef Bruce’s food has a healthy feel, good quality to it that just makes you happy, and the dark coziness of the dining room feels intimate. Either that or we have date night doing events together at MESA [the collaborative kitchen] in New Albany. … It’s funny because when I do an event there, my wife Laura usually helps me with them and it’s usually on Friday night so we tell the attendees it’s our date night, too.”

Mike Boyle  |  chef, co-owner
El Mundo
“Both being in the service industry, if we’re actually both not working, it’s wine and dinner (grilled rib-eye and shrimp) at home. If you’re looking a restaurant, the bar at Steak & Bourbon has been our current go-to.” 

Finbar Kinsella  |  chef, food service director
St. Joseph Children’s Home
“I cook all the meals at home. Since I’ve been at St Joe’s (simple, kid-friendly fare), I will get a bit fancy at home on occasion (mussels, Vietnamese, curries, etc.). I go for comfort food during the cold months (pot roast, soups, roasts). During the summer weather, much lighter. Don’t usually go out for ‘romantic’ meals. Valentine’s is an amateur night out (IMHO). Our favourite spots are Red Hog, Chik’n & Mi, Lupo (love that place)… Decca is wonderful too.”

Fernando Martinez  |  chef, co-owner
Olé Restaurant Group (including Taco Luchador, Steak & Bourbon and Guaca Mole Cocina Mexicana)
“My wife loves steak, so I make her steak and lobster for a romantic dinner — and good wine.” •