Quaglino’s, Mayfair

3 months ago

The Vibe
It’s rare to find a place that is both decadent and approachable. Yet, Quaglino’s somehow marries both with blissful ease. The grand amber staircase, goblet-like vases bursting with fresh flowers and Titanic-esque décor are all guilty of Mayfair opulence, but are softened by the charming and friendly staff that make sure you never feel out of place. The restaurant’s crowd may have moved on from its Royal past but there’s still a generous offering of attractive professionals and the odd SW family to keep you and your date entertained, as well as a house band that brings some Jazz Age romance to the night. Think glitz, decadence and a touch of the informal.

The Order
The bar menu is expansive but well worth the read, boasting some of the finest cocktails around. A favourite is the No.85, so smooth and indulgent that it drinks like pure liquid dessert thanks to an inspired mix of bourbon, cacao dark and a slathering of peanut butter that crowns the glass. Messy? Yes, but worth the ungraceful moment. With so much choice when it comes to drinks make life a little easier by selecting the set evening menu. Starters include a light and refreshing salmon tartare with a chilli emulsion and the spicy harissa & agave glazed aubergine with coconut, peanut and pulses. For a main, the zucchini risotto decorated with crumbled goats cheese and truffle is a comforting choice. Whilst for dessert, the raspberry crème brûlée is both sharp and rich and left us vying for our date’s attention.

The Game
Start with a cocktail in the upstairs bar. The space is dark, cavernous and has plenty of private corners to sneak off into. This is where any introductory conversation should take place and then left, ready for a more debauched night in the sunken dining room. A charming waiter will escort you to your table and be on hand throughout to make sure everything runs smoothly, meaning you only have to focus on the flirt. Share stories of wild nights and early mornings, London past and London present, making sure to mirror the playfulness of your surroundings. If all is going well, a talented band will soon add a soundtrack to your date indicating that you’ve lasted long enough to see the night’s entertainment.

As you leave enjoy a kiss at the stairs and exit onto the quiet streets of St James’.

The Faults
For those wanting a late-night date in the heart of Mayfair this place is pretty faultless.

Sex Factor
5. There’s a sparkle to Quaglino’s that makes it a difficult place not to impress with.

Minnow, Clapham

3 months ago

The Vibe
Minnow charms from the very beginning with its park-side location offering views of the common, pastel green and soft pink décor and hanging roses. This is a cute, yet surprisingly spacious place that has already found its crowd in the form of young Clapham types who are looking for Michelin quality without the commute into the centre. There is a real buzz here, although it’s never too loud that you miss what your date says and have to ignorantly nod along. This is a place that is confidently different in a dating scene concentrated with high gloss cocktail bars and post-industrial offerings.

The Order
The menu is not overly long but everything on it sounds impeccable, making it difficult to narrow. Buy some time by ordering a snack to share, the crispy chicken skin served with aioli is a simple but clever idea that is extremely moreish. Add some cocktails into the mix, each inspired by a historic Clapham resident and served on a coaster explaining the details. A perfect excuse to drink more in the “thirst for knowledge”. The Grieg, named after Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg, is a Scandi-influenced take on a martini made with dry vodka, vermouth and then smoked – a sharp taste that contrasts the whimsical décor. For a main, the cooked beef shin served on buttery mash is sure to satisfy – upscale comfort food. Desserts are on the smaller side and so it’s best to order individually rather than attempt to share. Caramelised watermelon with blood orange is an extremely refreshing end to the night, although the chocolate doughnut is a perfect indulgent dish.

The Game
Minnow is bi-level, each with its own distinct character and, therefore, appropriate game plan. The ground floor boasts a long marble bar, ideal to grab a pre-meal drink at and then move on to a table outside in the walled garden. Guests are seated close together, but are never intruding on one another’s space meaning date night conversation can flow very easily. Although, we advise against discussing anything too raucous in such an innocent setting. For a different type of night, head downstairs to a vaulted booth that is lit by a stained-glass light box and that sits in the restaurants wine cellar. The lack of natural light means you and your date can get lost in time, drinking and flirting into the late hours. When it’s time to leave, exit onto the common and enjoy a midnight stroll.

The Faults
For those with a sweet tooth (like me) the economic dessert menu may cause some panic, but there’s enough quality on the rest of the menu to keep your cravings satisfied.

Sex Factor
4. Charming and cute. Think country house romance rather than penthouse romp.

Smith and Wollensky, Covent Garden

8 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 Orange, Pimlico

1 year ago

The Vibe

If you’re going on a breakfast date there are three ways you would have gotten there. 1) You spent the night together after a boozy first date. 2) You met on a night out.  3) you’ve been together for a while and this is just another lazy morning.

Either way since breakfast is the most important meal of the day, what’s better than to start it in a little pub just off Sloane Square, where nothing really gets started until midday anyway.

The Orange is perfect for a hide-away breakfast to revitalise you, before sneakily heading back home to mull over the most fruitful night out you’ve had out in a while.

The Order

Sitting outside on the quiet streets for breakfast is immediately soothing, so ordering a mimosa on a Thursday is totally acceptable.

Indulgence is the key here, with rich duck eggs and a fluffy brioche soaking up mushroom juices and truffle sauce. Rich and full of flavour, you will be sure to combat last night’s alcohol and feel ready for the day. Add a side of crispy bacon and there’s no going back.

The Game

Breakfast is one of the most relaxed dates you can have and if they’re prepared to extend last night’s date into the morning then they’re a definitely a keeper. Don’t be the first to order alcohol, this isn’t an all day session.  Keep it short and sweet, then Uber your way out of these before the hangover really kicks in. Make a parting joke about returning there for a decent evening session.

The Faults

Everyone’s a little slower in the morning, including the service, but here’s hoping you’re lost in conversation.

Sex Factor

3.

Bottomless Brunch @ Quaglinos, Mayfair

1 year ago

The Vibe

Opulence, plain and simple. With a grand staircase that dips into a sunken dining room and a platform for a band, Quaglino’s is a Titanic-esque dining room with a hefty dollop of Mayfair bling.

And boy does it have a history. Opened in 1929 by Giovanni Quaglino – a restauranteur from Northern Italy – it attracted a fashionable crowd thanks to great Italian cooking and a lack of stuffiness. In 1993 it was taken over by the Conran Group and patronised by Princess Diana and a swanky London crowd, and in 2004 D&D London took over and once more breathed life into the place.

What most remark about Quags is that it’s a glitzy affair but not crazy expensive. The touches like the grandiose flower displays and house band are a charming nod to the Old World of Mayfair dining, while the newly launched bar – with its faux animal skin touches, dim lights and sparkle, adds a good does of shamelessness to satisfy any young aspirant.

The Order

One thing D&D really know how to do elegantly are bottomless brunches. 2 courses fo £25 or 3 for £29, with the addition of unlimited Prosecco for £15.

On a date, share with 4 Rock Oysters with shallot vinegar, and cured smoked salmon on melba toast. Then for a delicate main, the sea bream with sauce vierge on a bed of crushed potatoes is light with a citrus sharpness balancing indulgent potatoes. For something more brunch-like, the cured ham Croque Monsieur is the stuff of legends.

The Game

Dress for brunch. Men in crisp white shirts and women mostly in trousers, heels, blouses and fancy bags. Even better, wear a goddamn frock.

Wait for your date outside the restaurant so you can descend the staircase together and grab a hand for the journey down. Try to mirror the restaurant’s vibes – smart but not stuffy – with casual chit chat and playfulness. Swap stories from your Friday nights and make plans for the afternoon. Go for the bottomless option but stop after 2-3 glasses (stay classy).

Before you leave, grab a peck on the lips at the top of the stairs and head out for a walk around St James’.

The Faults

If it’s sunny outside, the windowless vibe may not work for all.

Sex Factor

3 for brunch. 5+ for dinner.

Dalloway Terrace, Bloomsbury

1 year ago

The Vibe

Summers were made for Dalloway Terrace. The stunning al fresco restaurant at the back of The Bloomsbury Hotel, catch it on a sunny day and you have yourself one of the best dates in London.

As the name suggests, expect a terraced structure of tables on different levels, with either a fully exposed table or one under an awning. As part of hotel, the presentation is crisp and service impeccable. Don a white shift and some Ray Bans. Book in advance.

The Order

Brunch is where the place peaks.  Start with a punchy brunch cocktail, either the Bloomsbury Set Bloody Mary (House mix, English vodka, fresh tomato juice) or the Morning Martini (Sipsmith Gin, triple sec, marmalade, lemon juice).

If trying to be healthy-ish, go for the egg white omelet with chia seeds and spinach. Or if indulging, the Eggs Benedict, the burger or the divine chorizo and champ hash cake. Finish with another glass of crisp white – it is the weekend.

The Game


If you have a brunch date, don’t wreck yourself the night before. Wear something that channels sleek sophistication, don’t forget the shades and turn up ten minutes early. By the time your date arrives you’re nursing a cocktail and looking pretty slick. Stay for a couple of hours and then meander to Hoxton Hotel in Holborn to take coffee and chat on sofas for the rest of the afternoon.

The Faults

Not easy to get the best sun spot without a booking well in advance.

Sex Factor

1. Pure class.

Victory Mansion, Stoke Newington

1 year ago

The Vibe

If you’re looking for a relaxed, friendly neighborhood bar to make your home base, we just did you a huge favor. But let’s just say if you blink, you’ll miss it. Tucked away in between shopfronts on Stoke Newington High Street, this quaint, hand-built bar is sure to impress with its charming, old-fashioned interior and familiar bar favorites. Kick back and relax with a cocktail in hand or make it a few to turn up your evening.

The Order

Eclectic British food has never tasted so good. Charred leeks with crispy quinoa, purple sprouting broccoli with bitter lemon Sichuan dressing, garlic octopus with fennel and mouthwatering mussels with green pepper are crowd favorites and we absolutely see why. As for drinks, they’re beautiful. For a strong yet tasty cocktail and an undoubtedly good laugh (you’ll have to find out for yourself), order the Hurricane Dave.

The Game

Victory Mansion is perfect for that after-work cocktail. It won’t overwhelm, but it’s sure to impress. While it’s much more casual than a suit or heels, there’s no need to change out of work attire. With high tables and a chilled out ambiance, playing footsy is a must.

The Faults

The service was impeccable, but if there were more filled tables, I can imagine the singular waiter and bartender would be quite overwhelmed.

Sex Factor

3, but definitely a 4 if you venture downstairs for a drink and sexy rendezvous.

100 Wardour, Soho

1 year ago

The Vibe

Where 100 Wardour now sits was once a two  floor emporium of Soho drunkeness called Floridita. It was the kind of place you remembered by anecdote rather than any tangible sense of what it looked or tasted like. The new invention place though, it’s a genuine looker from the quality kings D&D London (behind Bluebird, Skylon).

Pad down a winding staircase and end up in an expansive room built for either romance or swagging nights out. To your left, impeccable 20 something women sip Champagne, on your right, it’s Coupleville, straight ahead, men prop up the bar. In any other Central London joint, this could be cheesy. But it’s not, thanks to slick interiors, perfect lighting and not enough lingering space at the bar to accommodate liquid diners. I like this place because it reminds me why it’s nice to make an effort on dates – dress up, drink up, pay up and kiss at the door.

The Order

The starters are small plates so go for 3-4 on a date. The best thing we ate was yellowtail ceviche and octopus with a divine x dressing. The robata items are two sticks a plate so ideal picks for a light start to things.

For mains, share a meat and a fish dish – the giant prawns have a sauce so buttery  and sweet, we actually dragged our lamb cutlets around the plate hoping to scoop up the remnants. Perhaps a move to avoid on dates.

Dessert is a peak – salted caramel profiteroles and a molton chocolate mound with caremelised pecans that silenced my companion, who also felt the need to share with the dates either side of us. For drinks, start with a Margarita, then onto a decent bottle of red.

Brunch Dates – The Saturday brunch here is a bit of a big, boozy deal. £15 for unlimited Prosecco or Bloody Marys and £18.95 for 2 divine courses. A good start to an all day and night date.

The Game

Plan to meet at the bottom of the stairs by the bar. Shed all outerwear upstairs so you can make the descent like a slick character in a movie. Lock eyes and signal to the host that you’re ready to be seated. Say yes to the cocktail list and then order off menu. Commence the flirt extremely early on – you don’t want to be out romanced by your neighbours.

Share everything, finish nothing. Then ask the couple next to you to watch your table as you go for fresh air and a kiss after dessert, then return for a final glass of red. If there’s any room at all, cab to Blind Spot at St Martin’s Lane Hotel for a nightcap.

The Faults

If you could guarantee a space at the bar after the meal, you would stay till closing. Also you will need to give your table back but that’s life (London)

Sex Factor

Solid 5. More of a 3rd date place.

Chinese New Year @ Hakkasan, Hanway Place

1 year ago

The Vibe

The first thing that hits you is the smell – the spicy contents of a well-to-do lady’s perfume closet. Then the enveloping darkness as you descend into a glitzy labyrinth – the sort of mood-lighting that makes other date joints look like casual lunch spots. And then the elegant hostess who teases your coat from your hands and returns a transparent black plastic token slicker than a high roller chip. This place is meticulous at upholding the Hakkasan brand.

And what is that brand? Aside from luxury, Hakkasan is a Michelin-starred dining experience with an extremely sexy edge. It’s Cantonese food in a boudoir setting, and a sure fire way to impress a date. Unlike pretentious style-over-substance joints, the crowd is a mix of people who have either loved it, en famille, for years or slick singles who use it as their first port of call for romance. Business dinners are conducted in a setting-appropriate manner, with calm grace and good manners, while dates are conducted the only way they should be – with smouldering looks, delicate sips and the seductive feeding of dumplings.

And for a short while, to celebrate The Year of The Monkey, regulars can return for some new very indulgent menu items, a potent rum cocktail and a gift at the end of meal (a Monkey Coin – who doesn’t need that).

The Order

Chinese New Year Menu – The Year of The Monkey

This menu is perfect for a boozy double date with your favourite couple. The tasting menu is made up of nine dishes and priced at £88.88.

Start with Double boiled fresh Ginseng and chicken soup, next the Wagyu beef and pine nut golden cup, then the Dim sum platter. Follow up with insanely good lobster in spicy truffle sauce, Pipa duck, Grilled Chilean seabass in honey and a Hericium mushroom stri-fry with lotus roots, asparagus and lily bulb in black pepper. BREATHE. Oh and scallop and crab meat fried rice.

Dessert is a Golden Halo – a banana and peanut cake with cream and caramel and chocolate topped with gold leaf. Accompanied by a punchy El Dorado rum cocktail.

 

The Game

Your game is largely irrelevant here, since the Hakka empire have gone so far in creating a seductive assault on the senses. Aftershave is trumped by signature fragrances, clever make-up rendered pointless in the dim glow and expert chat eclipsed by tonnes of excellent food to tackle.

The only thing I advise is to get the dress code right – relaxed but expensive. Guys, focus on great shoes, nice jeans and a crisp shirt – just keep the work suit on if it’s a good one. Ladies, if it’s the weekend then go for a bodycon or cocktail number – not too trash, just one colour. Alternatively, the all black combo works a charm – blend in like a Scandi fashionista.

Meet at the table, so you can experience the descent alone. Stay for the allotted 2 hours and be pleasantly wafted to the bar where the real drinking happens. Taxi to Sketch for a nightcap and kiss like naughty kids by the egg shaped toilets in the coolest bathroom in London.

The Faults

Get excited about the food and you’ll be too full to function. And perhaps out of pocket.

Sex Factor

5. Coma dependent, of course.

 

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.

Next Page »

As seen in:

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