February can be bleak and so when pink and red hearts start appearing in storefronts, I appreciate the splash of color. I like Valentine’s Day and its over-the-top gaudiness: stuffed animals clutching red satin hearts with “I love you” written in script; cheap chocolates, red wine, those gross, powdery heart candies. I think it’s a little easy to dismiss it as a Hallmark holiday- even if it largely is one. The history of Saint Valentine’s Day is shrouded in mystery. Valentine might have been a priest in third century Rome who continued to perform marriages for young lovers despite Emperor Claudius’ ban. Or Valentine may have been a love-struck prisoner who signed a letter to his jailer’s young daughter, “From Your Valentine” —a catchphrase for the ages.

Although the Island is sleepy in February there are a handful of mainstays open if you feel like venturing out in the name of romance.

Owner JB Blau reports that Chowder Company is festive and busy on Valentine’s Day, and ladies will get a free dessert with an entrée.

The Ritz has quickly become a cozy winter favorite so it’s no surprise that Ben deForest has something planned, but he’s keeping mum on the details as of yet.

If you want to get out of the house but don’t care for Valentine’s Day kitsch, Offshore Ale will be open serving the usual comfort food, peanuts and beer.

State Road is closing for their winter hiatus on February 19th but first they’ll serve dinner amidst tasteful Valentine’s Day décor.

Deon Thomas is operating his namesake restaurant, Deon’s at the VFW in Oak Bluffs. “I’ll be open for the lovers,” he said in his sunny Caribbean twang. With chocolate rum cake to boot.

The Harbor View Hotel is running a Valentine’s promotion that has been popular in the past, a three-course dinner at The Lighthouse Grill followed by a stay in the hotel’s historic main building. The luxurious menu includes date night staples such as oysters and chocolate fondue with strawberries interspersed with artistic renditions of classics. Painted Hill Farm sirloin will be served with parsnip silk, foraged wild mushroom, cipollini onion, edamame, and Bing cherry jam. Organic roast chicken comes with butternut risotto, vanilla bean, celery root, watercress and apple.

Oysters, long thought to be an aphrodisiac, play an important role in many a Valentine-themed menu. (Some say the Italian adventurer and famous paramour Casanova ate up to 50 oysters each morning for breakfast.) Here the Lighthouse Grill’s chef Richard Doucette shares his twist on the classic Oysters Rockefeller, sure to set the stage for a night of decadence and romance.

Yield: 1 Dozen Oysters Rockefeller


12 Local Oysters, carefully shucked

Wet Kosher salt and one sliced lemon for garnish

Brie Cream

4 tblsp butter

4 tbslp flour

1 pint whole milk

1 cup Brie Cheese

Salt to taste

Bacon and Spinach

8 slices bacon

½ lb. spinach

Herb Bread Crumbs

½ pint Panko breadcrumbs

2 sprigs chopped thyme

½ sprig chopped rosemary

2tbsp butter


Brie Cream:

Melt the butter and flour together to make a roux and slowly add the milk, constantly whisking to avoid lumps.

Whisk in the brie cheese and add some salt to bloom its flavor.

Bring to a simmer and whisk often.

Once the sauce is thickened strain the cream through a fine mesh strainer to remove the rind.

Spinach and Bacon:

Slice the bacon into thin lardons and begin to cook in a large sauté pan.

When the bacon is about half of the way cooked start adding your spinach. When all the spinach is wilted,turn off the heat and transfer into a bowl.

Herb Bread Crumbs:

Melt butter and add bread crumbs. Using a wooden spoon constantly stir bread crumbs to toast. When they become golden brown turn off the heat and fold in your chopped herbs.

To Finish:

Preheat oven to 375 F. Save the shucking until last and when you do, carefully arrange your shucked oysters on a baking sheet with a ridge to balance them and keep their juice from leaking.

Add your wilted spinach and bacon to the shucked oyster and add a dollop of the brie cream tothe top.

Warn for 8 minutes. The brie cream should begin to bubble and brown and the oyster itself should be hot.

Remove the oysters from the oven and sprinkle generously with the herbed bread crumbs.

Rim plate with wet salt, garnish oysters with fresh cut lemons and serve.