A good meal reaches not only our bellies but also our hearts. Food is love. It is romantic and it is sexy. Yeah, that’s right, sexy- we think food is sexy. Well, at least when it’s done right, *and* when it’s French.
If you’re a Boston foodie, then you know this Valentine’s Day you should be taking your love to Les Zygomates at 129 South Street in Boston. Since 1994, this French Bistro has been connecting hearts through a combination of milieu, live jazz, and fantastic food. In fact, we met one of our besties, Steph at the bar and have now been friends for over a decade. One of our other favorites, Fee, first dined with her now husband at this jazz/wine bar. Two kids later, it’s still one of their top picks. So, the place definitely has some magic. And, we’re pretty sure many others have fallen in love inside of those walls, while sharing one of the many creative and delectable dishes begging to be ordered from the menu.
As we learned during our dining experience, it’s nearly impossible to choose from all of the divine dishes! So, we ordered a few different things, and shared. Because that’s what haute friends do. 🙂
When you first walk into the restaurant, you’re enveloped by warm lighting. Next, your body may involuntarily start to sway to the likes of Louie Armstrong singing La Vie En Rose. At least, that is until the live jazz band starts. That is when the real toe-tapping starts! Softly colored artwork by Janice Eve Dale gives the old school jazz club a modern, yet seductive appeal. And then there’s the food. Oh goodness, that wonderful food.
From a lobster stuffed crepe, with a dollop of foie gras mouse and truffle to homemade fettuccine with lobster and braised short-ribs, it was all simply delicious. From the ambiance to the food, Les Zygomates is the perfect restaurant for a romantic dining experience.
But, what if you can’t get into Boston next weekend to experience Les Zyg first hand? Whatever will you do for a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner?
Not to stress hauties! We were lucky enough to get a quick tutorial from the legendary wine bar’s chef, “Gio,” on three dishes that can be prepped and cooked in under 30 minutes. And trust us, you will easily impress and get right to your Valentine’s heart with any one of these recipes.
First up are the Marseille-Style Mussels. Now, if you can believe it, this was our first time trying mussels. But, they looked so gorgeous we couldn’t resist, and thank goodness we didn’t! Oh, what little bites of heaven were hidden in those shells! Jess pretty much gobbled up the entire plate. So, if you’re looking for a dish the two of you can easily share by dipping a fresh baguette into the rich and wonderful sauce, this is it.
MARSEILLE STYLE MUSSELS
- ½ cup White Cooking Wine
- Clover Garlic (Diced)
- About 14 Mussels
- Shallot (1 Tsp.)
- Cherry Tomatoes
- ¼ Cup Shaved Fennel
- 1 Tbsp. Fresh Parsley
- 1 Tbsp. Butter
- 2 Sliced Baguettes
- Melt butter in a deep-sided skillet and sweat the shallots and garlic until translucent.
- Add fennel and tomatoes and stir
- Turn heat to high and add wine. Bring to a simmer
- Season with salt and pepper to taste
- Add mussels and cover skillet
- Steam until all mussels are open, discarding any that don’t
- Pour into a bowl and sprinkle with parsley
- Garnish with toasted or grilled baguettes
TIP: Have plenty of bread on hand. The gorgeous sauce is so good, you may be tempted to lick the bowl. A nice french baguette will make sure you don’t miss out on any of that leftover buttery heaven, and that you don’t embarrass yourself in front of your date by lapping the bowl like a golden retriever.
Louis de grenelle, sparkling rosé
If your love is a lover of cheese (and really, who isn’t) then this next dish is a must! Gio’s pan fried fresh Mozzarella had wonderful texture and sweetness from hazelnuts and plums. The only real time consideration with this dish is blanching the cauliflower first.
PAN FRIED FRESH MOZZARELLA
- 1 Package of Fresh Mozzarella Cheese
- ¾ OZ Cauliflower Florettes, blanched
- 5 Cherry Tomatoes, Halved
- 7 Hazelnuts, chopped
- 3 Cracked Toasted Pita Chips
- Half of a Plum (sliced)
- EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
- Balsamic Glaze
- Cut the Mozzarella into slices
- Heat skillet on high heat
- Pan sear it until its slightly brown about 3 minutes each side
- Remove the Mozzarella cheese
- Mix Cauliflower, Cherry Tomatoes, Hazelnuts, Pita Chips, Plum with Evoo,
- Salt & Pepper (to taste)
- Pile salad onto a plate and lay the seared mozzarella on the side
- Drizzle with Balsamic Glaze
2013 Torii Mor, Pinot Gris
The last dish on our at-home Valentine’s Day menu seems intimidating, but Gio promised us with a little bit of confidence, anyone can pull it off. This seared duck breast dish was Kim’s favorite. Nestled nicely on a bed of red quinoa, the flavor palate was earthy and hearty, which paired perfectly with the chef’s recommendation of pinot noir. Other than preparing the quinoa in advance, this dish can go from pan to plate in about 15 minutes.
SEARED DUCK BREAST
- 7 oz. Duck Breast
- 1 Medium Carrot
- 1 Stalk Celery
- 2 Tsp. Fresh Thyme Leaves, separated
- 1 cup Cooked Red Quinoa
- EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
- Salt & Pepper
- Season duck breast with salt, Pepper and thyme
- Heat oil in a skillet on high
- Place duck breast in skillet skin side down and cook for 5 minutes. Flip and cook an additional 5 minutes. Remove from pan and let rest
- Mix quinoa, carrot, celery, 1 tsp. of thyme, a drizzle of Olive oil, Salt and Pepper. Mix until dressed
- Slice the duck breast in half and serve
Pair with 2013 Nicolas Rossignol, Pinot Noir
Les Zyg (as those in-the-know call it) is actually closed on Valentine’s Day. However, on Friday the 12th and Saturday the 13th, they are offering a $60 Three Course Prefix menu. If you don’t have plans, and they still have reservations you really should make your way to the South Street restaurant to experience a little bit of France in Boston. Here’s a preview of the menu!
Lover’s Weekend Menu
Crispy Goat Cheese Salad, Mixed Frisee & Watercress, Pickled Beets, Haricots Verts, Toasted Candied Walnuts & thyme Vinaigrette
Seafood Platter, 2 Oysters, 2 Clams, & 1 Shrimp Cocktail
Onion Soup Gratinée, Gruyére Aged Gouda & Cream Sherry
Dijon Crusted Lamb Rack, Asparagus, Potato Yukon & Pistachio Pistou
Jumbo Crab Meat Stuffed Sole, Haricots Verts, Pomme Purée & Brown Butter
Pork Milanese, Spätzle, Capers, Anchovy & Fried egg
Crème Brûlée, With Seasonal Berries
Ice Cream or Sorbet, Shortbread Sablé
Profiteroles, Vanilla Ice Cream with Chocolate sauce
Triple Truffle chocolate cake, Raspberry Coulis & Whipped Cream
A big thanks and cheers to Gio, Donna, our waiter Andre and to the rest of the team at Les Zyg. They filled our bellies with love and made us feel like we were part of the family. Make sure you get in there soon, because we’re pretty sure everyone gets that same treatment. 🙂
And, please try this Tuna tartar! It’s so cleverly made to look like watermelon, topped with watermelon radish, and sprinkled with black sesame seeds. As creative as it looks, it tastes even better! Enjoy the gallery!
Love, Kim & Jess 🙂