Randall and Aubin, Soho
The face of Soho is ever-changing; new restaurants and bars are popping up daily, the buzz is palpable and the choice endless. It is comforting to know then that some things never change. Randall and Aubin, run and co-owned by chef Ed Baines, is a Soho institution – they do what they do exceptionally well and its longevity is a testament to this. Randall and Aubin started life in 1908 as a family butchers so when Baines bought it in 1996 for his new restaurant he decided to keep many of the original features and butcher’s shop fittings. Original white tiling adorns the walls, a traditional awning with the restaurant’s name emblazoned on it shades customers from the glare of the sun and long marble bars have been installed for drinking and dining. This is a classy joint with a bit of a twist (they have a disco ball and their own entertainment on Friday evenings) so just the place to bring that someone special in your life – especially if they are not into the latest fad restaurant or they’re a total cynic who thinks they’ve already experienced everything Soho has to offer.
Seafood and Rotisserie is what this restaurant is all about so check out your date’s allergy profile well in advance just in case you need to arrange a change of venue. Go for the Plat de Fruits de Mer to share (rock oysters, Atlantic shrimps, whole crab, diver picked scallops, cockles, whelks, Cherrystone clams, Mediterranean prawns and Green Lipped mussels) and a bottle of Champagne. If this seems a bit too adventurous, there are plenty of other options to choose from: char grilled prime beef Rib-eye from the grill, 6, 12 or 24 oysters of your choice or lobster in garlic butter. The produce is sensational and the cooking dextrous.
Meet at Soho Square at 5.30pm and meander the short distance to Old Compton Street. Reserve a table at Bar Termini for cocktail hour (6.00pm) and confidently sweep inside out of the cold, unveiling your dress or suit for the first time this evening as you de-bundle your layers and your coat is taken. Keeping it coy, settle in and try the Marsala Martini (gin, almond bitters, vermouth and sweet Marsala) to whet your appetite. Tell her how beautiful she looks and don’t forget to smile lots. Sip at your drink – don’t rush through this portion of the evening and this will help to put your date at their ease. Once you’ve thawed out and your appetites are sufficiently tickled, maybe put a hand on your date’s arm to see if they are ready for something to eat. Get your coats and head back out into the early evening for the stroll over to Randall and Aubin. Take his hand and look at him, taking him in in all his gorgeousness. Find a spot to sit at the window, if you can, to get the view out onto the frenetic streets of Soho – perfect for people watching and conversation lubrication of the highest order. Order Champagne or have an R&A Martini (Belvedere Pure & Lillet Blanc) and order a classic dinner as above. Ask your date what they love about London. Tell them about your favourite shops and spots and what you’d do as Mayor for a day. Leave room for a homely dessert to finish up: Chocolate Sachertorte with crème fraiche is delicious as is the Mirabelle Plum & Almond tart with plum ripple ice cream. Pay the bill then keep the Martinis coming over at the Experimental Cocktail Club on Gerrard Street in Chinatown. By now, hopefully, the flirting is coming thick and fast…
No reservations. Grr.
4. Oysters and Champagne in old London town – dating doesn’t get any classier or sexier than this.