How To Host A Valentine's Day Dinner At Home

No reservations required.

How To Host A Valentine's Day Dinner At Home
Courtesy of Sarah Sherman Samuel.

Not sure what to do for Valentine's Day? While you could be packed into a restaurant with a million other people, you could also have a beautiful inexpensive dinner without anyone cramping your style (and easy access to the bedroom). If at-home entertaining isn't your forté, we called on an expert for help.

Gayle Pirie is the chef and co-owner of Foreign Cinema, one of San Francisco's most popular date night spots. Not only is she a pro at creating a romantic dining environment, she also has been with her partner and co-owner John Clark for 31 years! They even just wrote a brand new cookbook together to be published by Abrams in May highlighting their signature dishes. "If you’re thinking of entertaining at home, don’t overthink it," shares Pirie. "The meal should be very simple, clean, pure. You need energy for later."

Her recommendations for starters? "Bracingly cold oysters on the half shell are elegant, in season, and very delicious, as is, accompanied with lemon wedges," she says. "And a bottle of your favorite bubbles."

How To Host A Valentine's Day Dinner At Home
Photographed by Ashton Keefe.

If you want to set the mood, the restauranteur recommends to keep it simple and romantic. "Light the fireplace, dim the lights, and sprinkle a linen table with a few loose rose petals," she recommends. "Sure, of course, candles, but unscented as they can interfere with what is cooking in the oven," she adds. "Floating a few gardenias in a shallow bowl is a favorite decor element of mine."

"Dinner at home should be very simple, thought out, and relaxing," Pirie advises. "A perfectly roasted chicken with February salad greens dressed in rich vinaigrette and chicken drippings is sexy, restorative, and all you need." The final light touch? "Sliced oranges with honey for dessert," she adds. So you won't be left perusing Pinterest for the perfect recipe, Pirie shared one of her faves with us below.

Roast Chicken


-Two and a half to three pound chicken

-Two teaspoons kosher salt

-1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, or more to taste

-1/4 pound mixed salad greens, cleaned, patted dried

-Two teaspooons olive oil

-1/2 teaspoon sherry vinegar

-A pinch of kosher salt

1. Put a cast-iron skillet on a low rack in the oven and heat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. Sprinkle chicken generously with salt and pepper liberally and throughout cavity.

3. After 30 minutes, carefully place chicken in the skillet, breast side up.

4. Roast for 25 minutes, then turn the oven temperature down to 350 degrees.

5. Continue to roast until the bird is golden brown, about one hour. (An instant-read thermometer inserted into the meaty part of the thigh reads 155 degrees.)

6. Allow chicken to rest for 15 minutes.

7. Tip the pan to let the juices flow from the chicken’s cavity into the pan.

8. Dress the salad greens in a bowl with olive oil, vinegar, and salt. Place salad greens on a large platter.

9. Carve the bird, nestle pieces next to greens, and spoon over a few teaspoons of pan drippings.

As Lonny's Editor, you can find me writing about interior tips, scouting out the coolest new spots, and rallying behind amazing female entrepreneurs. You can reach me at or on Instagram @shelbywax.
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