Dalloway Terrace, Bloomsbury

9 months ago

The Vibe

Summers were made for Dalloway Terrace. The stunning al fresco restaurant at the back of The Bloomsbury Hotel, catch it on a sunny day and you have yourself one of the best dates in London.

As the name suggests, expect a terraced structure of tables on different levels, with either a fully exposed table or one under an awning. As part of hotel, the presentation is crisp and service impeccable. Don a white shift and some Ray Bans. Book in advance.

The Order

Brunch is where the place peaks.  Start with a punchy brunch cocktail, either the Bloomsbury Set Bloody Mary (House mix, English vodka, fresh tomato juice) or the Morning Martini (Sipsmith Gin, triple sec, marmalade, lemon juice).

If trying to be healthy-ish, go for the egg white omelet with chia seeds and spinach. Or if indulging, the Eggs Benedict, the burger or the divine chorizo and champ hash cake. Finish with another glass of crisp white – it is the weekend.

The Game


If you have a brunch date, don’t wreck yourself the night before. Wear something that channels sleek sophistication, don’t forget the shades and turn up ten minutes early. By the time your date arrives you’re nursing a cocktail and looking pretty slick. Stay for a couple of hours and then meander to Hoxton Hotel in Holborn to take coffee and chat on sofas for the rest of the afternoon.

The Faults

Not easy to get the best sun spot without a booking well in advance.

Sex Factor

1. Pure class.

Absurd Bird, Spitalfields

11 months ago

The Vibe

Southern American-inspired gourmet chicken flaps into Spitalfields and you better believe it’s here to nest. Rustic wood tables meet booths upholstered in festive flannels, dim light bulbs sit idly in their suspended cages, and the smell of spiced chicken and sweet syrup fill the air. You’ve just stepped into the kooky, yet charmingly kinetic Absurd Bird. Plop down in a seat and get ready to gain a few kilos you won’t soon regret.

The Order

Two words. Good luck. If a truly flawless menu has ever filled you with overwhelming indecision about what to order, get ready to ask your server for a few more minutes. Will it be the hurricane popcorn? How about the jalapeno mac n cheese? Garlic parmesan and lemon battered wings? Maybe, but make sure someone at the table orders the chicken and waffles, so you can snag a few unforgettable nibbles. Whatever you do, make sure to save room for the mouthwatering queen of the dessert minions – “The Dipsy” – fluffy, dippable cinnamon sugar bread dripping in icing and accompanied by an array of sweet sauces. DO YOU SEE WHAT I MEAN?

The Game

The game at Absurd Bird is what you make it. The cocktails are surprisingly on point – not only are they adorably named, but they may even be more beautiful than your date. Ok, let’s hope not. Embellished with mint leaves, lemon wedges and a handful of tangy pomegranate seeds, these tasty libations are sure to drown any inhibitions and get the good vibes rolling. Admire each other under the bird cage chandeliers and wipe each other’s faces when the cuisine gets a little too messy.

The Faults

It’s hard to nail one down, but let’s just say if you’re not so keen on waddling out of an establishment with a food baby, Absurd Bird is probably not for you.

Sex Factor

3, but don’t let that scare you away. Order a sexy cocktail and head downstairs to the lavish bar where the lights are turned so low, the birds don’t even chirp. With plans to offer live music and private parties in the coming weeks, the basement is sure to be a hit.

Oka, Chelsea

1 year ago

The Vibe

There are relatively few Kings Road hotspots that haven’t been overrun with celeb spotters determined to bump into Spencer, Hugo, Milli and the like. However oka doesn’t need any of that. It’s small, unassuming and effortlessly chic. With an open kitchen the size of a postage stamp, it feeds a restaurant full of well heeled locals who can drink at the bar, chat over sushi or celebrate a special occasion with a full on fusion feast.

The Order

Soft shell crab to start, and seaweed salad to balance it out. Get a cold, crisp glass of Reisling in early – and mentally note that cocktails at the bar will serve as an excellent night cap. Black Miso Cod here has been quoted as the best in London, and even the simplest of their sushi rolls is melt in the mouth delicious-The Tuna Tataki is an utterly blissful experience.

The Game

Meet at the table – it’s a funny spot on the Kings Road and the walk from Sloane Square may drag a little so keep things fresh with separate arrivals. Bubbles to start wouldn’t be out of place here, but don’t get a bottle – it’s horribly brash. Share everything, including saliva, and drink at a steady yet sophisticated pace. Take up at the bar afterwards if you spot a space or head to Ivy Chelsea Garden for a salted caramel espresso martini.

The Faults

 

You’ll get carried away, the bill will mount up – YOLO.

Sex Factor

4.

Patron, Kentish Town

1 year ago

The Vibe

Building on the success of their petit bistro in Soho, this Parisian restaurant – with its intimate round tables and leather booths – pushes you closer together, with a low hum of music keeping a sexy vibe throughout. With the extensive range of spirits and a simple menu, showcasing their 5 main courses on a wooden board hung in the centre of the restaurant, the best advice is to take their lead with the dishes. Everything is sourced from independent French suppliers and their menu makes it impossible to choose the wrong thing.

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The Order

If you have never tried frogs legs or snails before, then this would be the perfect time, cooked in true Parisian style, a simple garlic and butter sauce. If you’re not quite there yet, then I would advise the steak tartare, served with a quail egg and croutons and the chicken liver masala which, frankly, melts in your mouth.

For mains, have their top pick, the duck confit, with a side of your choice and then moules mariniere, with the finest truffle frites one can imagine. Reminded by the manager that “the French love bread”, the many baskets of the stuff were a great way to slurp up the remainder of the garlic and wine sauce left behind from the moules.

Finish with a sharing board of 4 cheeses, accompanied with a dessert wine – ‘Chateau le Pradet’ – then followed by a simple chocolate brownie. At first thought the tiramisu, being my favourite dessert, seemed like the best choice. However, upon being told it was more of a cocktail we decided that a first date sharing cocktail was maybe getting a little ahead of ourselves.

The Game

Meet at the table. It’s small enough not to feel a fool whilst you wait. Plus the low lighting makes everyone look fabulous. Share a carafe of wine, enough for 4 glasses, so just enough to take you through the meal without regretting it the next day.

The Faults

There’s one seat in the house facing the window directly looking onto a car forecourt. You may only see the top of the buildings, thanks to the perfect little curtains at the base of the front windows, but it’s just enough to remind you that you’re not quite in the Parisian town you hoped. Instead, you have work tomorrow morning.

Sex Factor

4.

 

Aqua Nueva, Oxford Circus

1 year ago

The Vibe

I’ve been on dates where things get a bit frisky – usually at the end of the night after a few cocktails. But at Aqua Nueva things kick off straight away. Not, however, with my date.

No sooner does one step into the vast building on Argyll St, a stone’s throw from the chaotic Oxford Circus underground, does one get directed to a lift by the suited and booted security, and whisked up to the 5th floor’s impressive roof terrace.

When the doors open, you are met with sultry mood lighting and a grand circular bar oozing with luxury. With three sleek enterprises on the one gargantuan floor – aqua nueva, a modern take on traditional Spanish cuisine; aqua kyoto, contemporary Japanese cuisine; and aqua spirit, a cocktail bar – if it weren’t for a friendly waitress, I doubt I’d have found my way through the gaggles of suited and booted city slickers to the right bit, or indeed to my very first Tinder date.

The Order

In traditional Spanish form, the menu is comprised of sharing plates – ‘tapas’. Conveniently separated into Meat, Fish and Vegetarian categories, and all around the £12 – £15 mark, we tried a variety of each. Sharing plates never fail to make great date-food. Highlights were the Galican Octopus stuffed pastry, which was tender not rubbery; and the 24 hour marinated Oxtail, which was rich – and comfortingly warming at this icy time of year.

Warning: Aioli frequents many dishes, which though tasty is quite pungent – and garlicky breath, should a first-date snog be on the agenda, is best avoided.

NB: Aqua Nueva is also currently offering a La Matanza menu, which is based on an ancient Spanish tradition and incorporates delicacies from an entire hog within each dish. £8 per dish, £24 half hog (3 dishes), £45 full hog (6 dishes).

The Game

Get your make-up sorted before you enter the restaurant, top ups whilst in the premises are off the cards due to the low-lit mood lighting.

Grab a cocktail at the bar before being seated. The atmosphere there is great for date small-talk; soft music and the gentle chatter of other diners. Background noise, but not loud.

You can sit anywhere and be guaranteed date privacy (aka, not worry about neighbouring guests hear your awkward ‘get-to-know-each-other’ chat) – as the tables aren’t packed in. And after supper, there’s no need to leave the building…just head back to the bar.

Sex Factor

General ambience is definitely sexy. It’s smooth, it’s slick, there’s leather…Only sex factor fear is that once you leave the restaurant your date might not look anything like they do indoors due to aqua’s mood lighting.

Mind you, if you’ve tucked into a sufficient amount of their delicious and punchy cocktails that might not be a problem anyway. Got to love a good set of beer goggles.

Staycation Special – Hannah’s, Winchester

1 year ago

The Vibe

Staycations are a wonderful thing but most involve a tedious journey from London, an isolated BnB and the promise to yourself that you’ll take a three hour walk to a pub, only to end up getting sozzled in the mini bar. Not so with Hannah’s.

Aside from the obvious beauty of this three bedroom BnB – the property equivalent of The Hemsleys – it’s a speedy trip on the train from London to the equally gorgeous Winchester town. Located centrally, you turn a corner off the main street to find a vintage Mini outside a white house/cottage with the words Hannah’s painted onto it. So far, so cute. The heavy wide door is then opened to reveal a host as mindfully centred as the setting, Hannah.

Ushering you past the honesty bar, cosy sitting room and piano on a stage (late night recitals?) the bedrooms sit upstairs with high plush beds and softer than soft floral bedding favouring bold colours over cliché pastels.

R2Hannah's B&B-280

You’ll be given time to settle into the space – grand ceilings, nouveau country cottage setting, free standing bath on a small mezzanine overlooking the bed, potions to take home (or use in the sexy shower), under floor heating, flat screen linked to Netflix and a chic hanging copper light. Perhaps testament to Hannah’s youth and obvious feel for interiors, this is more Soho Farmhouse than chintzy rural vibes.

R2Hannah's B&B-102

The Order

The first thing on the menu is tea, peanut butter bites and scones as you relax in the conservatory.

R2Hannah's B&B-314

Dinner isn’t served here but Hannah will point you in the right direction and there are a plethora of good restaurants in Winchester. Rick Steins is one of them. But a cosier experience is the Wykeham Arms – hearty food at a very high standard and the ability to sit for at least three hours nursing a good bottle of red, or two. Best thing to eat there: steak and triple-cooked chips with garlic butter, followed by a cheese board and crumble to share.

What Hannah does do is breakfast, taken round a wooden table laid with flowers and condiment pots. Start with granola, toast and homemade jam, yogurt and tea. Then it’s a healthy English breakfast – grilled bacon, proper sausages, tomatoes and eggs how you like them. Like everything about this place, and seemingly Hannah, it’s perfect.

breakfast hannahs

The Game

Although you could quite easily go on a Friday post work, it’s more exciting to have a weekend of excess in London then wake up on Sunday after lunch and whisk your lover to the station. This isn’t a smutty weekend; it’s a romantic one for when you’ve both exhausted yourselves with extravagant London daytime dating and want to do something rural that still feels a bit young, fun and convenient. Once you’re in the room, snuggle for a bit and pick a film for later. Then head off to the pub a little too early (5pm) and wait patiently till dinner service starts.

Natter away to each other and take it in turns to get up and buy rounds. Let whichever dogs walk by and make some cringe comments to your fellow boozers. Post dinner, take a walk straight home and debate the honesty bar. Realise it’s a Sunday so change your mind, head up stairs, make fat love and fall asleep to a box set. Then up in the morning for breakfast and a train straight to work. How efficient.

The Faults

The capitalist in me wants more bedrooms, a dinner service and a booming boutique hotel.

Sex Factor

2.  It’s romance babe.

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