Untitled, Dalston

4 weeks ago

The Vibe

Nestled in between run down shop fronts in Dalston, this sleek little gem sticks out like a sore thumb. Push through the doublewide cedar door and prepare yourself for an experience that has questionably been ripped from the future. One massive, elevated slate table runs down the middle of the concrete room with leather-studded bar stools ready for the taking. The faint shimmering of the foil wallpaper stirs a dull desire to hop up and dance like you’re in a techno club, but the sophisticated, ambient mood music encourages otherwise. Bask under the exhibition style display lighting and get ready for some seriously flamboyant cocktails.

The Order

Upon taking a seat, one of the many zealous servers in a patterned, garage-style shirt will whisk you a vacuum-sealed menu – literally. There you will find a host of wild cocktails mixed and embellished with seemingly inedible ingredients such as clay, chalk, pine, zink, oak and silver tip. If you don’t scratch your head upon walking through the door, browsing the menu will surely be your time to shine. Before ordering libations, ask to kick off your cocktails with a ‘wish’ and wait to be utterly baffled as you’re delivered a shiny plastic rose pedal in an ornate painted dish that you’re intended to eat. Surprise! Start with ‘Snow’ and ‘Satyr’ – a couple of sweet tasting warm up drinks in luminescent elixir glasses then graduate to “Sicily” and “Violin” which are guaranteed to singe your taste buds and get that tipsy train on the move.

The Game

For a date, grab an early meal in Shoreditch then arrive around 8pm, but think about making a reservation as the table can become a bit full around this time. Get the cocktails flowing ASAP but make sure you relish in the hand-crafted quality and delicate absurdities of each unique creation.

The Faults

The overhead spotlights can unknowingly accentuate all the wrong angles so make sure you lean back in your stool a bit so as not to frighten your date.

Sex Factor
2. If you’re a lover of minimalism, modernism, and maybe even alcoholism (in a playful manner of course), then this place is your new favourite pit stop.

Humble Grape, Fleet Street

9 months ago

The Vibe

In the vaults of St Bride’s Church (where Rupert Murdoch and Jerry Hall exchanged their wedding vows) sits Humble Grape. Opening in the wake of its successful Battersea sister, this is City date heaven – dark, full of wine, not overpriced.

The ethos of the owners is to offer handcrafted wine from small, sustainable, independent vineyards, avoiding the industry-standard markups from agents, importers or distributors. Translation: you can drink deep without breaking the bank, in a rather good looking room.

The 200 person space hosts wine tastings, as well as working well for a dinner or just drinks date. Flattering lighting and the sort of place you could bring a group date or just one person. Head there mid-week to feel just a little bit bad.

The Order

Wine, swine. The wine list features around 30 wines available by the glass or carafe and over 200 wines available by the bottle to drink in or take away. You can pair with charcuterie and cheese or have a proper meal of Galician octopus and lamb stew. And the roast bone marrow with dipping soldiers? Wow.

The Game

This is a post work date for City workers. Meet there and playfully decide to choose a wine for each other. Create your own tasting experience by ordering new wines with every round and making up reviews.

Make sure you eat something – no one likes a corporate drunk – and stay until the place closes. Definitely kiss while you’re in there. Then resist the urge to go home together and order separate Ubers.

The Faults

It’s harder to keep the boutique feel in a big space.

Sex Factor

4. You drank too much.

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.

The Hops & Glory, Islington

11 months ago

The Vibe

This laid-back pub is quite the looker. With a nearly wall-to-wall bar, exposed brick and large windows that look onto the street, dim canned lights, and flickering tea candles atop rustic wood tables, Hops & Glory is definitely a stunner. In the late evenings, the venue starts to fill up, which offers a pleasantly exciting vibe.

The Order

Take a seat and within minutes, your server will greet you with warm, homemade sourdough bread, which is a perfect sampler that will undoubtedly make you take a second look at the short, but rather impressive menu. If you trust us at all, start with the Welsh rarebit and the brown shrimps then make your way on to the 28-day braised beef. If you’re up for dessert (which we highly suggest) and want a rich finish, ask for the chocolate nemesis with vanilla ice cream.

The Game

Although the mix is quite diverse, the bar tends to cater to an older crowd, but in a very undercover fashion. If Hops & Glory is the lucky date night venue, dress smart casual, stroll in hand in hand, and head straight for the bar. Start with a crisp Aperol Spritz, pick out a window table, and knock knees while enjoying the view.

The Faults

If not an Islington local, the bar is a decent walk from the nearest tube/bus station. However, strolling down the wide residential streets lined with trees and friendly passersby is quite the lovely retreat from the bustling central London, so we highly suggest it.

Sex Factor

4 – the venue is gorgeous, so it’s likely to amp up the romance.

Bootlegger, Bank

1 year ago

The Vibe

The roaring 20s come roaring back to life in this prohibition inspired drinking den located in the hustle and bustle of the financial district. Industrial style cage lights and flickering tea candles cast a dim glow on restored relics and wall hangings from the era. The extensive and historically elaborate cocktail menus are tacked to cumbersome planks of wood, which sit atop distressed antique tables. Lively jazz covers of top 40 songs quite literally invoke an overwhelming urge to jump up, kick off your shoes, and take to the floor like the era-appropriate flapper. Bar staff and waiters don the charming, ever-so-sleek white shirt, bow tie, and suspenders, which only enhances the quite impeccable service in the minds of the tipsy.

The Order

Care to snack on some lightly salted popcorn out of quaint teacups whilst sipping on your cocktail creation? If that doesn’t lure you in, fancy, hand-crafted bar snacks are in the works and will be introduced in the next week.

The Game

If you dare stumble into this blast from the past establishment, your cocktail GAME will surely thank you. All hand-shaken, stirred, and poured into mason jars, the cocktails here are mixed with long-forgotten, but beloved liqueurs and bubblies and embellished with fresh fruit and a pinch of some really good lovin’. Sit back, soak in the tunes, and order a few. Luckily, most cocktails come with two straws so start sippin’ with bae – fingers crossed you’ll get lucky. Then stumble down Bishopgate to 24 hour Duck and Waffle and get your feast on. Need I say more?

The Faults

Hard to think of any, but if I had to nail one, the joint can get quite noisy when packed.

Sex Factor

3, but definitely a 4 if you know how to do the Charleston.

Coin Laundry, Exmouth Market

1 year ago

The Vibe

If countless movies and TV shows are anything to go by, laundrettes are a great place to find romance. Remember the one in FRIENDS where Ross teaches Rachel how to do laundry and a red sock dyes all her whites pink? Fitting then, that this warm and fuzzy heritage inspired Exmouth Market’s latest date venue.

While there’s no soap powder or tumble dryers to be seen, this bar-eatery is an explosion of retro memorabilia that will tickle the nostalgic. A roomy, low lit upper floor of small diner tables and pinball machines gives way to a basement of snug corners and board games. The soundtrack? 70s and 80s classics, of course.

The Order

First we saw the elevation of the humble burger to god-like status, then a tidal wave of hot dogs, fish finger sandwiches and pimped fried chicken. Coin Laundry’s speciality joins this revival trend with panache: a revamped chicken kiev. From the crisp, free-range chicken oozes a garlicky explosion, sourced from Hackney Marshes for added bonus. The menu comprises more upgrades of kitsch classics: tangy prawn cocktail, rabbit balti pie, smoked haddock rarebit and sardines on toast. Your nan’s cooking, but better.

Cocktails shrug off pretentious infusions and hat tip bygone icons – try the Snowball (Advocaat and lemonade) or Grasshopper (Liquor, mint, chocolate, cream). There’s a thoughtful selection of Vermouths and Digestifs and – joy of all joys – a Soda Stream.

The Game

This joint ticks boxes for laid back drinks, very good snacks and bonding over Kerplunk. Get to know your date as you swap throwback memories – which boyband/girl crush adorned your wall? Confidently order the 70’s Porn Star (Vodka, mango, lemon, passion fruit and Babycham) to gauge your date’s prudishness / get their imagination flowing – delete as required. The 2am closing time provides ample opportunities to make your move.

Alternatively, head to Coin Laundry on the weekend for a hangover-quashing brunch of potato waffle, fried egg and sausage or buttered crumpets with jam. Exercise can wait.

The Faults

Be careful that your chicken kiev doesn’t shoot its garlicky innards straight into your top.

Sex Factor: 2

 

Duck and Champagne at HKK, The City

1 year ago

The Vibe

There’s something apocalyptic – or simply a bit trippy – about dating in the City on weekends. The place has been cleared of suits and all that remains is the odd hungover East Londoner, wandering over from Old Street in the perpetual hunt for food. Or, misinformed tourists who seem to think there’s something, anything, to do in this concrete playground.

Well chaps, there actually is. Weekends at HKK – a restaurant of Hakkasan lineage – makes a fantastic lunch date. Ever more so now there’s duck and champagne on the menu.

Enter a well lit room that fits around 50 covers (77 if you include the private dining). Lanterns hang over a central serving table in a room that is minimalist without being clinical.  Sharp corners, soft spotlights. You’re likely to be seated amongst a smattering of sharply dressed couples and double dates settling into a very long lunch. And like most Hakkasan joints, you’d be forgiven for thinking there are more staff than punters, so waited on hand and foot are you.

The Order

The Duck and Champagne menu is the only thing you need to know about for Saturday dates. 4 divine courses for only £49. It goes like this: Blue crab salad, Cherry wood roasted Peking duck with black truffle mantou and caviar, then again with sesame pancakes. Duck and abalone stock with egg friend rice on the side.Your own duck will be carved up before you and presented in several guises, washed down with a bottle of Louis Roederer champagne. And to end, Nashi pear and champagne mousse with cotton candy and Champagne mousse.

The Game

Meet them at the restaurant, as it’s not easy to find and fumbling around together on Google maps ain’t a good start to proceedings. Dress in slouchy-smart attire, cut out of suave materials like lily-white cotton or gray silks,and baggy enough to eat in. As this is a boozy day date, make sure you are well rested and glowing. This isn’t the place for the hungover. Keep conversation light and lazy, refrain from gulping champagne and stop the drinking once the bottle is done. Insert the flirt around dessert by suggesting you make an afternoon of things.Then leave for the bathroom to let them mull it over.

Take a few bites of dessert, settle up and call an Uber before they know what’s going on. Then head to Blixen in Spitalfields for casual Negronis at the bar and kiss once it gets dark outside.

The Faults

While the lights are soft, they only mask some sins so make sure you scrub up for this one.

Sex Factor

Solid 4. It would be a travesty to party ways after the lunch.

 

 

 

Beer and Buns, Spitalfields

1 year ago

The Vibe

This noisy bar with its fun quirks is definitely a place where you can find a corner and get a bit drunk and silly on a first date.

So first thing’s first, don’t get lost on the way to your date and go to the Japanese restaurant beneath it because it’s easily done. Take a right at the K10 restaurant door and head on upstairs. You’ll be led up a dark set of stairs with various pieces of sound advice doodled on the walls. This reveals at the top an equally dark bar filled with indie music, sake bombs and bar staff encouraging you to write on the walls. It’s something a bit different and a very relaxed atmosphere.

The clientele is young and fun so a quiet, romantic dinner for two this is not.

The Order

They were spot on when they chose the name of this bar.The craft beer and steamed ‘Hirata’ buns are the order of the day, with a side order of sweet potato fries and spicy mayo. If you’re looking to bring your A-game and wow your date with your charm and sophistication, then the slightly messy jumbo chicken wings may not be what you’re looking for. However, if you feel your blossoming relationship can take it, order away as they are a treat.

The selection of craft beers is lovingly chosen – if you’d like some back stories behind the selection then John behind the bar is more than happy to oblige. The frozen margaritas and strawberry daiquiris make a nice change from the usual order and cool down your palate if you’ve gone for the basket of spicy popcorn to share.

The Game

So, let’s talk date logistics. Arrange to meet outside the K10 Japanese restaurant and head upstairs together. This eliminates the possibility of your date getting lost, and also if it’s a blind date, you may need some extra light to recognise them from their picture.

When you’ve made it to the bar, head for a table in the far corner so you have a little dark spot to yourselves. You have to order at the bar so negotiate that between the two of you. Once the evening is well underway, if you feel like things are heating up, undertake a sake bomb challenge on one of the barrels. Things will probably escalate from here. Don’t forget at the end of the date to emblazon you and your date’s names onto the walls of the bar, a real sign of true love.

The Faults

Sometimes the music is a bit loud and your sweet nothings can get lost in the lyrics, but that just gives you an excuse to get a little closer now doesn’t it?

Sex Factor

2. Initially this venue may seem pretty casual but the vibes and yummy alcohol lay the groundwork for things to heat up later in the night.

Il Cudega, Hackney

1 year ago

The Vibe

Il Cudega is hidden under the arches of a railway line in deepest Hackney. For London, at large, the location is a bit ‘left-field’, though for Hackney-ites, the restaurant is right in the thick of it, just off London Fields (at the end of Broadway Market). The restaurant is Italian enough that you feel it could have been superimposed into the area, and perhaps it will need time to mould itself into the surroundings, but it’s off to a good start. As is always a good sign with any restaurant, both the co-owners were present, as was the head-chef, and all the staff were charming, friendly and attentive, to everyone. The restaurant has just opened, and so the edges need to soften, but with enough keen-mouths through the door, the place will wear in beautifully.

The Order

This particular evening was special: it was themed. Named, ‘Gorgonzola Night’, or ‘Notte di Gorgonzola’, the 4 course meal, not including a serving of panettone to finish us both off, was comprised of Gorgonzola, including dessert. I came on the date with a cheese-crazy, and so the sight of Gorgonzola made his eyes light up. All the food was great quality, authentic Italian produce, and it was a brilliant combination of classical and experimental. There were a few outstanding elements; for the antipasto, there was a just opened Gorgonzola ‘Croce’. Merely 14 –days old the cheese was immature, and soft, but with a twang, and it was a first for me. The secondo was fantastic, enjoyed immensely by both of us: polenta vol-au-vent with black wild mushrooms, trifola di porcini and tarassaco Lombardo leaves: delicious. As an ice-cream fanatic myself, the meal’s denouement was the most thrilling, and nerve-wracking. Of course, it was Gorgonzola flavoured. It was good, and again, I had never had it before. A perfect wrap-up to the culinary adventure that evening.

The Game

Supper-club themed evenings are great for those early dating days: the evening is structured, with a beginning and an end. The meal is paired with fantastic wines, and so the whole evening is an experience in itself, which is nice to share with someone new. The kitchen is open, the staff are friendly, and it makes for a comfortable setting, on the whole. You can also buy some local Italian produce to take home which could make for a special gift to give to your crush, or to take home for yourself.

The food is a serious feature of the evening, and together with the fabulous wines, the meal is rich. This can take away the edge of cracking onto a new chirpse, but for a late weekday evening, or a more relaxed weekend meal, it is perfect.

The Faults

Il Cudega has just opened, and the vibe would suit a décor which has been broken into, as if it’s been there for generations. As it is, the lighting is a bit harsh. Once they’ve dimmed the lights, and there is a bit of rust, wear and tear, the place will do well.

Sex Factor

3.

The Jones Family Project, Shoreditch

1 year ago

The Vibe

Call me a lazy dater, but nothing makes me smugger than finding a café-cum-restaurant in which I can go from remote desk to bar stool in one easy manoeuvre. At The Jones Family Project, I can do just that; by day, the ground floor is a freelance-friendly café, complete with a dedicated nook housing a desk and a printer (the stuff of self-employed dreams). By night, the shelves behind the bar swivel, hiding tea and coffee particulars in favour of cocktail-ware (said swivel was deftly demonstrated by the maître-d, one of a charming and enthusiastic team). This is one of many considered décor details, from industrial-style structures separating intimate booths from private dining rooms, to leafy plants growing out of tub chair-surrounded tables.  Exposed brick tells you you’re in Shoreditch, but the crowd is more discerning than the City ladz that typically frequent that stretch of Great Eastern Street – on the night we visit, Pixie Geldof is dining at the table along.

The Order

Start by swigging a couple of cocktails at the ground floor bar (a lavender mojito was the perfect tonic for a hectic Thursday), before moving downstairs for serious feasting. The crispy squid comes liberally served, so have it to share and proceed to evangelise about its perfect spicy/tart ratio. With meat sourced from the famed Ginger Pig butchers and cooked in the restaurant’s Josper charcoal oven, this is the perfect place to bring a carnivorous lover – the fillet steak in red wine sauce is practically orgasmic, though IRL orgasms may have to wait until you’ve recovered from the food coma such a statuesque slab of meat is wont to cause. A shout out for the oft ignored seasonal greens – Jones’s iteration is spicy and sesame-coated, and those bad boys are DIVINE.

If you have a propensity for Sunday dread, you’ll know there’s only one remedy: a ruddy delicious roast. Luckily, if you can drag your hungover, Monday-dreading self over to Great Eastern Street, you’ll find the perfect epicurean cure. It involves melt-in-your-mouth, fall-off-the-bone meat – supplied by the illustrious Ginger Pig – and all the trimmings, including Yorkshire puds so gargantuan, one wonders how they fit inside EC2. I opted for the chicken (a whole poussin at that) and a fishbowl-sized glass of Malbec, and the anticipatory Monday dread just melted away. What’s more, they didn’t balk when I asked for an extra jug of gravy before dousing my food in the stuff. Next time I make Sunday dinner I really will be trying to keep up with the Joneses.

 

The Game

Leave veggie Vernon at home. This one’s for meat lovers and meat lovers alone, although the chic but cool interiors will satisfy both Silicon roundabout snobs and the more discerning of City types (as long as they don’t have beef with beef).  Request a booth for some anticipatory footsie.

The Faults

Cheap and cheerful this ain’t, but the massive, mouth-watering portions and superb quality meat are happy justifications.

Sex Factor 

3.  Inevitable meat sweats may hamper sexy time (unless, erm, you’re into that kind of thing), but if the way to their heart is through their stomach, a next date is guaranteed.

Next Page »

As seen in:

Copyright © 2015 Social Concierge · All rights reserved · Website designed by Speedway Media