Apero, South Kensington
Pushing through the tourists in South Kensington can bring out a very edgy side in you, mumbling things like oh yes that really is the best place to take a picture as you fight out of the underground and seek unpolluted pastures. Whilst it may seem silly to recommend visiting a hotel in this area for a date – there is, after all, a glut of posho pubs that make for sceneic summer dating – there’s something terribly calming about the Apero restaurant in the basement of the Ampersand Hotel. If you can suspend disbelief as you go through the grand entrance of the 5 star boutique hotel, once you make it to the charming restaurant you’ll be relieved to find something a little less stuffy, a lot more cute. Apero is unlikely to be full to the brim or particularly loud, but it is very pleasing on the eye (uber minimalist, comfortable leather banquettes, hanging lamps, metal studded wooden tables, turquoise touches, bowls of lemons) and a lovely spot for an intimate Sunday brunch. When entering the restaurant head for the tables on your immediate left, a separate bit that they tend to sit couples in – families will sprawl around the main room. And what of the people? An attractive early thirties couple sip on chilled white wine and feast on brunch classics while the dapper gent flicks through his iPad (Forbes Online?) and his lovely companion picks up and puts down a slim penguin classic. Charming.
Someone recently told me that juice and coffee didn’t mix, which is a shame for the breakfast routine, but crisp wine and Americanos really do. Ordering a brunch cocktail here would seem a little superfluous – a Bloody Mary is permissible but a Mimosa has a bit too much pesssaz and occasion for the calm little restaurant. The menu is not too adventurous, but appeals to both the very hungry and the very healthy. Avocado on sourdough? Tick. Eggs Benedict? Of course. Sides to share? Buttery mushrooms and a fluffy muffin please. No fuss, no surprises, and mostly under £10.
As Usher said, I just wanna take it nice and slow (damn gurl). You brought your date here because you wanted to make the most of your Sunday together and this area yields myriad possibilities. This is just the slow warm up, a long breakfast to digest both Friday and Saturday nights’ events and show them that (having already demonstrated your moves and drinking capabilities) you can be a steady and familiar presence to chill with. Although it won’t seem like all that much when you enter, I promise you you’ll stay in there for a minimum of 2 hours, long after the food has come and gone. There’s no pushing from the waiters – in fact, you’re lucky if you get more than a few minutes of face time – so you avoid the cloying interjections of a formal dining process (oh no really I’ m fine for water/wine/bread). When the trickle of conversation comes to a natural end, suggest you gather your things. One of you efficiently took care of the bill while the other was in the bathroom so your exit is seamless. Then either wander to the Natural History Museum or to the Angelsea Arms to sit outside and immerse yourself in a frightfully jolly West London crowd.
You’ll need to get over the fact it’s in a hotel. It’s not that buzzy.
2. It’s a little early to sneak back into bed and there’s a lot more exploring to be done. Then again, if you live nearby, I don’t see why not.