Osteria Basilico, Notting Hill
Every gastronome worth their salt likes to boast about the charming little Italian they frequent, obviously the best in London, quite a little find. Osteria Basilico will appear a lot on this list. It is as rustic as you would wish (a lot of wood, a little candlelight), expensive enough to impress, and full of couples who clearly use this as their keep-the-fire-alive local haunt. Consequently, there’s nothing cringe about being on a date here, most people seem to be. And whilst a cosy Italian is a rather traditional date option, you at least don’t have to endure the wine choosing nightmare you would in a French joint, second cheapest will do thank you very much.
The pasta dishes are truly sensational here. Topping the list is the spaghetti vongole; al dente, swimming in a chilli-flecked olive oil with fresh cherry tomatoes and clams. Delightful. Warm bread is constantly replenished to dip into the leftover oils and you may well get through a basket before the food arrives. Share a starter, since the mains will more than fill you up. The burrata mozzarella and parma ham is a great option; fresh, simple and creamy. Dessert, if manageable, should be the tiramisu to share; light but perhaps not alcoholic enough.
If at all possible try and sit upstairs, as some of the couples tables downstairs make you feel like you’re speed dating. Have a couple of cocktails at Montgomery beforehand, then dive into the bread basket and order your red wine speedily. Don’t pontificate over the menu, choose a dish you know you like and then refocus on the person you’re with. Corniness is permitted on this date; hold her hand across the table, tell her how ravishing she looks, feed her some burrata. Others will be doing it, it’s more cringing not to. At the end of the meal you’ll be snoozy drunk but content. Have a long kiss goodnight outside, hail two cabs, text to make sure she got back alright and drift off into a deep sleep safe in the knowledge that you were charming.
As mentioned, avoid the line of speed dating tables downstairs. Request a four person or corner table, or just stay upstairs.
1. I wouldn’t recommend you play for the sex card this time, most people won’t feel too erotically charged after a big bowl of pasta. However, if you’ve already slept together and this is your second or third dinner, keep the consistency and go for it, just don’t expect acrobatics.