Padella, Borough

1 year ago

The Vibe

This is the most exciting restaurant to open in 2016, from the restauranteurs behind Islington’s popular date spot Trullo. Lip-smacking fresh pasta dishes in a covetable, over-popular small restaurant by London Bridge.

This is perfect for a mid-week date with someone who doesn’t mind a little queue – and isn’t carb dodging. Seats can be up at the counter (pretty hot), side by side in the window or on small snug tables downstairs. Waiters are clipped and to the point, service is speedy and you can be in and out within 60mins.

The Order

The Pici Cacio e Pepe is the star dish – a butter, cheesey, peppery melting pasta. Pick a second main to share, like a rich ragu, and start with burrata and bruschetta with borlotti beans. You can take or leave the wine as the focus is the food, and move on to a nearby bar afterwards to reflect on the feast.

The Game

Meet at London Grind for a Tommy’s Margarita and then head down to the queue, tipsy and relaxed. Once you’re in, order quick and share everything. Sop up juices with extra bread and joke about who’s getting the bigger share. Then pay up and head to Bedales wine for romantic reds and your first kiss.

The Faults

The line outside.

Sex Factor

2. It’s a foodie factor really.

Hixter, Bankside

1 year ago

The Vibe

Any serial dater worth their salt has been to Mark’s Bar in Soho. Sitting underneath Hix restaurant on Brewer Street, it’s a dark cocktail den that balances between playful and romantic; not too much for a first date, just enough for a first kiss.

Hixter, another Mark Hix joint on Bankside, has a very similar basement bar but with less of a couples-only vibe. Post-work groups fuse with casual twosomes on third, fourth and 21st dates to create a very relaxed atmosphere. Grab a quick beer while standing, or perch on black cinema-style chairs at a low semi-circular bar necking cocktails. Then, if they’re worth it, sit down to steak upstairs.

The Order

First, red wine or Negronis at the bar. There’s a decent red around the £6 mark but on a date you should hover around the £9ers. Even if eating dinner upstairs, share a snack like chicken popcorn to line the stomach. Once in the restaurant, it’s giant Yorkshire pudding with whipped, buttery chicken livers to start. Then either a roast chicken for two or sirloin steaks, bernaise, chips and token greens. Dessert? I couldn’t possibly.

The Game

A 6pm seating in the bar followed by a 8pm restaurant session. Yes, that’s two hours of pre-drinking but, yes, you can get away with it here. Hobble upstairs, be bolshy with the fun waiting staff and sit at a table for four, side by side. Start on the tap water and food. Squeeze their hand conspiratorially under the table and drop a line. Then crack on with the meal and chat only about the trivial. Snog at the table but don’t go home together – you want to be messy in public, not private.

The Faults

The restaurant isn’t always that full mid-week so you need to bring the noise (or apologise for it).

Sex Factor

3. Probably not tonight but it’s brownie point central.

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