Smith and Wollensky, Covent Garden

5 months ago

The Vibe

Clanging forks and the sound of a Central London Sunday brasserie bustling away with Mimosa-soaked friends and smug couples. That’s not what you’ll find walking through the doors of Smith & Wollensky for weekend brunch. Instead, it’s dulcet piano tones as you glide through the room where diners look remarkably relaxed, content, sometimes tipsy but mostly just charmed by the old school vibes of the place. Sharp white-jacketed waiters bring you coffee as you peruse an extensive brunch menu ranging from brunch classics to steaks. A word for the wise, dress for the occasion (crisp, relaxed glam) and make it a Champagne kinda brunch.

The Order

It may take you a good 20 minutes to work through the options so order coffee to get you up to the task. The braised beef hash and poached eggs was rich but delicately portioned so you’re still able to split waffles for dessert. For burger aficionados, the cheeseburger was honestly up there with the best – strong cheddar and juicy patties and yet confusingly light. For dates this is perfect; you can eat well and still feel desirable by the end of it. Before you leave, order a Negroni to share then head towards Somerset House to amble the day away.

The Game

The scene for relaxed romance has already been set. If you booked, make sure you turn up early and beg for a booth. Sitting next to each other is infinitely preferable. Drinking after you’ve eaten is a better idea, it doesn’t feel like the sort of date you booze your way through. Chit chat about your weekend and make it very clear you have nothing else to do after brunch, paving the way for a day of chilled fun. Don’t go straight into the intense grilling , this is the first hour of a longer date so keep it trivial for now.

The Faults

The service is so efficient you might find the meal goes a little too quickly; slow things down by asking for more time.

Sex Factor

2. It’s a Sunday and you’re in your best.

*Special Event*: And for something a little different, on Friday 17th March, they will be celebrating St Patrick’s Day with Jameson cocktails and a big old celebration in the Adelphi Bar from 5.30pm. We’ll be there…More info HERE.

The Ivy Kensington Brasserie, High St Kensington

1 year ago

The Vibe

For those who have been to The Ivy Chelsea Garden, the Ivy Kensington Brasserie  channels the same relaxed-bling vibes with less of the florals and a bit more corporate punch. While the Garden makes you feel like showing your date your serene side, this place makes you wanna drink Champagne at 11am, gossip about other tables and furiously play footsie. The elegant silver bar, with its glittering potions and high leather stools, must be languished on as you take it all in. Origami butterflies add a touch of whimsy; round wooden tables host friends, and blue corner banquettes host dates and celebs. The restaurant is love at first sight, the person you’re with merely secondary.

The Order

Christ this is good food. Something about the lightheartedness of the place makes you want to stick to a main course and a shared dessert. It’s not really the place to overeat on a date. But if you do, it won’t break the bank as much as it’s older sister.

Nibble on bread as you wait for half a roast chicken with a jug of gravy and thick cut chips or a DIVINE schnitzel with truffles. Simple, perfectly cooked, perfect portion size. Then share a theatrical chocolate bomb with salted caramel sauce. Want to linger a bit? Finish with Negronis. Brunch, lunch, dinner, every damn meal of the day should be enjoyed here.

The Game

As you’ll have gathered, the restaurant IS your game. For ease, head there on a Sunday for a 1pm booking. Make sure you asked for a romantic corner booth. Arrive 40 minutes early and use the excuse for a glass of champagne at the bar. Set a tone of frivolity. Knock knees as you eat and try each other’s food. Make sure you dressed up casual chic – nice shirt, cashmere jumper. Once the eating is done, hold on to your table for as long as possible. Pay up and then wander down Ken High for drunken shopping. Buy each other gifts and then walk to the Builders Arms for a final tipple.

The Faults

Honestly I can’t think of any. Potentially hard to get a dinner table on a Friday.

Sex Factor

4 for lunch. 5 at night.

Foxcroft & Ginger, Whitechapel

3 years ago

The Vibe

Saving the residents of Stepney Green from the culinary wasteland that has thus far existed in the area is the sister branch to Soho’s uber cool Foxcroft & Ginger. Taking its name from the owners, Quintin and Georgina Foxcroft (a proud redhead – hence, Ginger), this independent cafe mixes urban, warehouse tones with snug and quaint features: coffee is served in assorted, quirky china cups and a nostalgic Union Jack hangs on the wall. This is a stunning space with an ideal selection of sofas, bar stools and cosy tables, offering Breakfasts and Brunches for the most indulgent of morning afters.

The Order

Although the classics are brilliantly done, opt for something different because these guys do it really well – Truffled Bechamel, Semolina Fried Squid or the Shredded Pork and House Braised Beans will satisfy the most sophisticated of morning palates. Talking of sophisticated, the 63°C poached eggs offer a bit of modern molecular gastronomy for the ultimate foodie: heated in a water bath at a constant temperature of 63°C, this method results in the yolk and white being cooked to harmonious perfection.

From Tuesday to Saturday, opt for an evening here and you’ll find Stone-ground Sourdough Pizzas to be enjoyed with a good selection of cooling Hops.

The Game

This joint is multifunctional. Want to scout out a Tinder date? Suggest a coffee here. Keen on someone and just spent the first night together? Come here for a lingering brunch and snuggle on the sofas. Dating agenda in early stages and keen to mix things up? Stop by for pizza, wine and zero pressure chatting. Afterwards, you could take a relaxing stroll along Mile End Road, through Whitechapel Market and up into the city for more recreation. The possibilities are endless, make it work.

The Faults

Let’s just say Estate Agents would sell the location as up and coming….

Sex Factor

3. Coffee and cuddles…

The Jam Tree, Chelsea

5 years ago

The Vibe

The Jam Tree is a Chelsea joint that rather sweetly references trendier locales, with its edgy Union Jack chairs, Warholian prints and general sense of creative fun in its design.  I believe they call it ‘post-modern Rule Britannia chic’ and it’s just delightful. Like any good gastro pub, it’s got a fantastic decking garden, big and well heated, to huddle and ‘smirt’ to your heart’s content. The menu is delightfully schizophrenic, from English hearty fare, to samosas and French gourmet. For a date though, forget about heading there in the evening , it’s all about the daytime Sunday Roast and the longest list of Bloody Marys I’ve seen in London, from a gin version to an oregano-packed Italian one.

The Order

You’ll get rather excited at the starter list (scallops, pork belly) but if tackling the roast, it would be foolhardy to dilly-dally with anything before.  The portions are gargantuan. The meat comes with duck-fat roast potatoes, 2 Yorkshire puddings, plentiful veg, gravy, stuffing, the absolute works.  Accompanying this, go for the Bloody Spicey (a horseradish infused Mary) or the Bloody Maria (a Mary with tequila, quite wrong but rather right).

The Game

This is the place for a shared hangover, the night after a third or fourth date. Concentrate on building your strength for a second go in the bedroom, or enjoy the blissful hangover session, where inhibitions are low, the world is fuzzy around the edges, poor jokes are suddenly very amusing and everything imbibed is heavy and comforting. If you can enjoy this hearty brunch with him/her, you’re likely to want to enjoy many more. Nothing like a little bit of nesting.

The Faults

A hell of a lot of food for a date.

Sex Factor

0-5. It may have already happened last night, and this is the post-coital hurrah. If not you’ll have to walk this meal off, find the nearby Eight over Eight for more drinks and make another stab at it 4 hours on, once digested and revitalised.

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