Reader, suspend your disbelief. It is in fact possible to enjoy a successful, nay downright outrageous, date in a mega bar-meets-restaurant-meets-nightclub space. The high ceilinged, 200 cover room in Camden’s Gilgamesh is choc a bloc with OTT interiors fit for a Babylonian king. CELEBRATE! was being tipsily yelped by a little pigmie in my head throughout the meal. But taken with a pinch of salt and a (potent) martini, you’re on track for a very fun date.
Gilga is best for winter dates, when the sun has set and you’re ready to settle into an evening that could be 2/3/4 hours long. Not the territory of first dates, this is the place you go with a honey when you want to dine on Pan-Asian food but want a little more luxe than your local and a strong dose of fun. Mixed crowd, kinda silly, very boozy, slightly inappropriate.
Rich and very satisfying mains. The starters are more like props for the opening round of cocktails but the main courses are well beyond your average Pan-Asian joint – one of the best Beef Penangs I’ve had, decent portions, punchy flavours. Curries aren’t afraid of packing the chilli in there, a helpful slap in the face that cuts through the growing wine slumber and fullness. My recommendation would be to just skip the starters and order 3 mains and some jazzy prawn/crab/pork fried rice. YUM.
Post 9pm fun with someone you’ve been seeing longer than a month. You’ve done the hipster joints of East London, the bars of Soho and you’re exploring the untrodden territory of Camden. Walk together from the station and make jokes about matching tattoos you might get, glo sticks you might buy. Try on a hat or two, set a playful tone.
Arrive at Gilga and throw a wink to the serious bouncer guarding the escalator. Clasp hands and totter up. Make sure you have booked one of the slightly raised big round booths for dates – the prime spot for making yourself real comfortable and gradually sliding closer throughout the meal. It is also perfect for people watching and as the place attracts such a mixed crowd, you can spend the first 15 minutes deep in analysis. The martinis here are gargantuan so make sure you order bites alongside them or you’ll be gone before it’s started. Then chow away for a couple of hours till the room din has turned to more of a birthday roar and make your way to the club or Ketel bar. Order more drinks, make out, dance. Then kindly ask the hostesses to order you a taxi and get out.
Not super ‘cool’, but the food, booze and fun potential is crazy high.
4. You will find it hard to stop consuming. Just remember to keep your eye on the prize, not the liquor.