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Help wanted!!! Have to make a decadent meal

My best friend wants a decadent dinner cooked for his birthday (instead of gifts, people are contributing cash to the dinner). He definitely wants Lobster tails and Chateaubriand. What decadent appetizers, dessert and sides would you suggest?

Thanks for the rescue!

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  1. I'd make some eggs with shaved truffle (Pustarei's will have them) and some caviar, again probably Pustaeri's if you live downtown.

    Foie gras? How much do you want to spend???

    1 Reply
    1. re: albanis

      truffle season is about over.

      lobster tail and chateaubriand? is this 1965? the latter is usually a cut only big enough for two... how many people are you having over? lobster tail is usually only available frozen and imho an inferior product to live maine lobster.

      are those doing the meal accomplished cooks? shucking oysters and deveining foie gras are royal pains in the @ss if you've never done it.

      if you just want to blow money, why not go out to a fancy-pants place?

    2. Depends what your tastes are. Foie gras could be a very decadent app. but perhaps not for everyone. Same goes for oysters, caviar. If you are buying dessert, then your options are limitless, choose a favorite bakery and ask them to do something special.

      1. To me, decadent always means rich, creamy food (AKA a dieter's nightmare). Dessert screams for homemade chocolate mousse (or flourless chocolate cake). Simple, yes, but for me it's more about flavor and texture than convoluted culinary execution. Using the best ingredients possible makes it worthwhile.

        Anything with goat or feta cheese always works for me as an app. I had Oysters Rockefeller on NY Eve, it seemed perfect to have for that occasion. I agree about the caviar, it would be very indulgent with that meal.

        This probably doesn't go with the lobster, but I love good creamed spinach. I'm not a big steak eater, so don't go to steak restaurants at all, but am told creamed spinach is always on those menus.

        Conversely, I would avoid serving anything with a vinaigrette or sour flavor. Those flavors don't say "decadent" to me. I think you want people saying "mmmmmm" all night.

        Have fun!

        1. Appetizers: Insalata Caprese (slices of tomatoes alternated with slices of fresh mozzarella topped with chiffonade of fresh basil drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, melon wrapped with prosciutto

          dessert: cheese cake marbled with chocolate and topped with strawberries.

          sides: roasted thin asparagus, potatoes cooked with beets and many whole cloves of garlic mashed together with sour cream and butter.

          3 Replies
          1. re: ChiliDude

            i have to respectfully disagree with the Caprese suggestion...few things are less decadent than out-of-season tomatoes.

            but i can always get behind cheesecake ;)

            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

              You are correct about the tomatoes, and we usually make Insalata Caprese with out home garden ripened ones. However, my wife buys small cluster tomatoes at, of course, Whole Foods that taste like vine ripened tomatoes. They are bigger than grape tomatoes and other small cluster tomatoes.

              I dislike the hydroponically grown tomatoes and bell peppers because they have no taste. The peppers come from a European country.

            2. re: ChiliDude

              Thin vs. thick asparagus is always a personal choice - I like thick - but they're out of season and IMO suffer alot for that reason.

              So potatoes and beets cooked together = pink potatoes? I'm having a hard time wrapping my brain around that one :)

            3. Are you referring to "decadent" in terms of sensation or just equating it to expensive?

              If it's sensation, then that's challenging to do since it's personal and cultural. Ortolans get the underpants of the French in a twist, but I'm not sure about how he'll feel about eating a bunting. Or bird's nest and sea cucumber in Chinese cuisine. Or cuy in Peru. Also different depending on what part of the meal it's applied to - decadence most often applies to dessert.

              If it's just for "expensive" then this list is easy because you'll populate it with things like Osetra caviar (from Iran), foie gras, black and white truffles, matsutake mushrooms from Hokkaido, bottles of La Tâche, and gold leaf adorning everything.

              Since you've got surf-and-turf as a main, I'm thinking it`s the latter so you can start off by amp'ing that up by going with a Mishima beef Chateaubriand and spiny lobsters from Australia.

              Evening kicks off with a whole cinco jotas pata negra jamón ibérico which you can slice pieces from yourself. You can move onto organic eggs from chickens fed with marigold flowers served with Périgord truffle (because you don't want the inferior Chinese or Australian product), hand-made pappardelle with white truffle from Alba, bluefin chuutoro nigirizushi, mi-cuit foie gras with Yquem or a Mosel eiswein, some shark-fin soup (with whole fins), marrow bones with Osetra caviar, then your main, a cheese course which includes a good Brillat-Savarin and a Secret de Maurice (since we do need to support local), and then desserts of your choice.

              Great lashings of wine with each course.

              11 Replies
              1. re: wattacetti

                wow - not sure my fellow foodies would get all this - but thanks for the ideas!!

                1. re: araden

                  There's lots of ideas that everyone's floating your way (I spotted burrata) but whatever you decide to make for your friend, get the best quality cream and butter you can find and don't skimp on either. And press-gang some people into helping you.

                  If you do elect to serve cheese (and you should), peel the grapes.

                  1. re: wattacetti

                    What's with peeling grapes? There's a thread going now about cheese courses and pears and apples seem to be the preferred fruit, if any.

                    1. re: c oliver

                      For cheese, I like to serve dried figs and dates (Tunisian ones are really good) and have supplemented with champagne grapes and apples. Pears don't necessarily work with some cheeses.

                      And peeling grapes? In Taiwan, no one eats the peels but I mentioned it primarily to add difficulty to the preparation.

                2. re: wattacetti

                  +1 Now that is my idea of wonderfully decadent.

                  1. re: wattacetti

                    But wattacetti, you forgot the ortolan!

                    1. re: buttertart

                      In the meal? Yes I did and what's worse, it's blatantly missing a poultry course. Ortolans may be a bit hard to obtain in Toronto but I understand that one may substitute bobolinks.

                      1. re: wattacetti

                        A little too rotund to be eaten in one bite.

                        1. re: wattacetti

                          i had a tasting menu that included scottish woodcock. we were given tiny spoons with which to scoop out the brains.. i felt like a roman empress, lol.

                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                            I've eaten Peking duck brain that way, it is an odd sensation.

                    2. Decadent (to me) means eating things that you normally don't eat regularly, in ways that are more "fussy". Think about serving in courses, but you need not exhaust yourself.
                      A light appy of simple fresh oysters, shrimp or crab with champagne -on rock salt with fresh lemon or "Louie" style.
                      For your surf and turf meal...I second a simple creamed veggie.
                      Followed by a small but nice cheese course and salad.
                      Or reverse the order and do the salad before the main, then serve the cheese course after or as dessert.
                      Since it's a birthday dinner- I think you need a birthday cake or facsimile (with a candle). Personally, I would love a big block of Stilton cheese with a candle stuck in it and some fine vintage Porto as dessert!

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: sedimental

                        love the cheese idea....that would be awesome and he loves cheese too - I want to make some cool dessert - he wanted cherries jubilee - but have to source good cherries.....Maybe molten cakes in both white and dark chocolate....thanks for the appetizer idea --

                        1. re: araden

                          ooooh.... set something on fire (not you!). That always feels decadent!

                          1. re: araden

                            go to the best cheese shop in your area and get the most expensive/exotic...just small amounts of each will do it. accoutrements c'est formidable! especially if you can find a preserved cherry condiment, since he likes cherries. I second the finest iberico ham, if he likes ham. If you do a salad course, heap it on with fresh chopped herbs of all kinds, if he goes for herbs...add fresh crab a bit to the salad....or high quality fresh tuna poached in olive oil....another decadent dessert is the best mascarpone you can find, baked with a couple of eggs and fresh black/rasp/blueberries. Even kiwi would work. If he likes brandy/armangac/calvados, after dinner drinks.

                            1. re: araden

                              Sedimental got there ahead of me with the port and Stilton idea...if it was a big party, you could wait until the Stilton wheel was a bit hollowed out in the centre and then pour the port into it. For our daughter's graduation from school in Italy, the spread was fabulous and finished with a wheel of parmagiano reggiano that was scooped out and filled with vin santo as the evening drew to a close. Huge hunks of good bread completed the feast.

                                1. re: buttertart

                                  Yep...we Canucks know how to do decadent when you can wean us from the Tim Hortons!

                          2. I love burrata as an app - if you can get a good italian imported one it's just divine with a simple salad or some roasted tomatoes and good olive (or truffle) oil. I had a delicious lobster and burrata appetizer at a Manhattan restaurant not long ago, if you wanted to combine the two luxuries!

                            1. Decadent always makes me think of oysters, caviar and champagne.

                              Lobster tails? Make sure you get live Maine or Nova Scotia lobsters and not frozen tails.

                              And you could get crazy with a wagyu chateaubriand
                              and thats American wagyu.

                              More than double the price for Japanese wagyu.

                              You could get some white or black truffle paste and use it to make some decadent mashed or twice baked potatoes that will go very nice with the beef.

                              1. I would definitely do a cheese course and something with truffles. Are you looking for recipes or places to buy prepared foods?

                                1. since lots of people have given you great appetizer ideas, i'll throw out a dessert idea. a flourless chocolate cake with chocolate ganache (bete noire) is my go-to decadent/rich dessert. i like it served either with a raspberry sauce, or with a slightly spiced chocolate whipped cream.

                                  sounds like it'll be a great party - enjoy!

                                  8 Replies
                                  1. re: fearlesshomemaker

                                    And you could always top it with edible gold leaf, Sur la Table sells little booklets of it.

                                    1. re: buttertart

                                      L'Epicerie sells dust and flakes in addition to the leaves; the spray is currently sold out.

                                    2. re: fearlesshomemaker

                                      +1 for La Bete Noire or similar chocolate decadence cake. try adding a little espresso (brewed or powdered) to the ganache. mmm...

                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                        @goodheathgourmet, here's the bete noire i've made before - surprisingly easy + incredibly rich + tasty. just in case you want to try it, too! good idea about adding espresso to the ganache.


                                        1. re: fearlesshomemaker

                                          yep, it's the recipe i usually use as well - she got it from Bon Appétit/Epicurious:

                                          i've added other spices & flavors to the cake & the ganache before, but there's always at least a little espresso somewhere in my chocolate desserts - it enhances the chocolate flavor so much!

                                          Eating Well magazine did a feature this month on chocolate desserts from Alice Medrich...i've got my eye on her lightened version (as well as all the other recipes she contributed!):

                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                            thanks for the link to the lighter version - i'd love to try that + will add it to my (ever-growing) to-make list.

                                    3. Decadent has many different meanings...to some, it could mean their favorite foods which they might not have the opportunity to eat often. To others, it might mean overpriced items and still to others decadent could mean mouthfeel. If the birthday boy requested Chateaubriand and lobster tails, give it to him, even if you can only get frozen tails. On another note, Chateaubriand is just a cut of beef tenderloin prepared into a two person portion…just roast off a whole beef tenderloin if you’re having a dinner party.

                                      As far as the other dishes, IMO, there's no point making the entire meal completely heavy laden that it doesn't balance out to be fully enjoyed, otherwise, the food will sit like a cinderblock in your stomatch after each course. I'd suggest creamy deviled eggs topped with smoked salmon & wasabi caviar accompanied by champagne as an appetizer. Second course, a salad of frisee & arugula with roasted beets & herb crusted goat cheese medallions topped with a orange balasmic reduction.

                                      Third course, your surf & turf; pair with potato gratin or a simple roasted broccoli drizzled with good olive oil, a sprinkle of parmesan and zested lemon. Fourth course, dessert:..birthday cake with a side of fruit sorbe or, following your idea for cherries jubilee, how about individual cherry jubilee cream puffs or souffles

                                      1. you already have so many sensational suggestions so far, and as noted by many, the idea of decadence is personal, but...

                                        Foie Gras on Brioche Toasts with Date Pomegranate drizzle
                                        App Salad:
                                        Chanterelle with Egg
                                        Surf 'n' Turf
                                        Asparagus, Leek, and Gruyere Risotto
                                        Garlic Rubbed Roasted Broccoli
                                        Popovers (even for decadent, these may be pushing it
                                        White Chocolate Souffle with Raspberry Sauce
                                        Cheese Plate

                                        also don't forget to buy:
                                        Gas-X and wheelbarrows (so someone may cart you off from the table)

                                        ...just my ten cents, happy birthday!

                                        1. This is my dream meal of the moment. Make me this and I'd follow you anywhere.
                                          All are things I have been fortunate to enjoy in the past, just not all at once.
                                          Champagne rosé to start.
                                          A dozen perfect oysters on the half shell, the adductor muscle removed and a piece of filet of lemon in its place under the oyster (thank you Jasper White, I will remember this forever) (Chablis)
                                          Cold foie gras d'oie en bloc with toasted brioche (Sauternes)
                                          Rare venison loin with sautéed morels and soufflé potatoes and way too many of both of them,
                                          salsify a la creme, perfect big homegrown asparagus spears just cooked and buttered (some gorgeous Burgundy)
                                          Roquefort and walnut toasts (more Sauternes)
                                          Meringues glacées with fraises des bois sorbet, creme Chantilly, and fraises des bois (and too many of them too) on top (more Sauternes)

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: buttertart

                                            I am straight-up drooling from the last two posts. : )

                                          2. Let us all know what you've decided upon for the 'decadent meal' since there was so much divergent input.

                                            My culinary motto is "Cook like a peasant... Dine like a gourmet." After all, that hoity-toity French cuisine all originated in the rural homes of France centuries ago. I'm not a devotee of Gaulic cuisine. The French did not have a fork until Marie Antoinette brought one from Austria.

                                            1. I think a nice risotto would go well with the lobster. If you are going with lobster and expense doesn't bother you, get Australian lobster tail. You may have to order it online and frozen.

                                              For dessert, Chocolate truffles are easy and decadent or you could go with this "Death by Chocolate" cake http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/fo....
                                              This chocolate souffle is very very decadent even if you have to make it with regular chocolate and not the Hawaiin stuff: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/em....

                                              1. For dessert, may I suggest Dacquoise au Chocolat (#132 in Jacques Pepin's LA TECHNIQUE). Chocolate meringue/nut discs, chocolate buttercream, rum whipped cream.

                                                If your friend isn't a chocoholic, the vacherin that precedes it (technique #131) also looks decadent, i.e., each cake is a bit of work.

                                                Plus it's just so darned much fun to say "dacquoise" and "vacherin."

                                                I too would begin with oysters--too many of them; more than the six or twelve you pay so much for in restauarants. Just that and the cake would be enough for my birthday.

                                                I like the lobster and creamed spinach idea. That's my favorite thing to get at the Palm. Plus their oysters Rockefeller.

                                                1. My vote is as follows:
                                                  Lobster in champagne-vanilla (or just vanilla) sauce as appetizer (it should be appreciated on its own.... I agree with other posters to try to avoid frozen tails - maybe one lobster for 2 people would work...it can be made in advance...the shells are used to flavor the sauce too)
                                                  Beef Wellington for the main (instead of Chateaubriand, which IMO is just steak) - the pastry & foie gras seem mighty decadent to me)
                                                  Dacquoise (as Jay F said) - super buttery buttercream (chocolate or mocha) between layers of hazelnut merinque.