El Pastor, Borough Market

10 months ago

The Vibe

So laid back it’s horizontal. But if you find yourself on the standing benches in the front room, you’ll be propped up in a vertical pose throughout your meal, lending a strange jauntiness to proceedings. This feel like a quick stop that could, at the mention of mezcal, turn into a full session.

Not for those looking for full on romance but perfect for first daters who are constantly on the search for options that sit somewhere between liquids-only and sit-down stuffy.

Decor-wise, there’s some corrugated iron on the walls, hanging lightbulbs, hard surfaces and what looks like formica on some of the tables in the back. Again, not fancy, but really rather cool. Remember, we’re in a Mexican joint, where alcohol consumption takes equal weight with the food, so every cocktail, from Old Fashioneds to Negronis, are laced with tequila.

And should your date dare to question the food credentials, this joint is the from the formidable restauranteurs behind Barrafina and Quo Vadis, Sam and Eddie Hart. So pipe down Princess and finish your salsa.

The Order

Tortillas are freshly made on site and ‘el pastor’ cooking – meaning ‘shepherd style’ – involves meat being marinated on an upright grill, most notably pork marinated in a mixture of dried chillies, spices, achiote, and orange juice. Served in a soft corn taco. Wet your whistle with some sipping tequila or a damn near perfect Margarita.

Food-wise, start with a truly delightful sesame tuna tostado and some guac, then head straight to taco town, with a ridiculously moreish chorizo, sweet potato and salsa verde, followed by a sweet n’ meaty short rib and pineapple taco. For date chat distraction, the carnitas are a Do-It-Yourself dish, so as playful as you guys wanna make it.

The Game

On a date, the mistake would be to head here early evening for a formal sit down. This is more of a bowl up tipsy at around 8/9pm and prop up the counter tables while satiating your hunger, vibing off the energy of the Borough crowd and getting your meat fix. Meet on a Saturday to wander around the market and then end up in Bedales for some slow wine drinking. One glass becomes four and before you know it your stomach is rumbling and you want something a little more occasional than a quick fix at Brindisa. Stay a maximum of 60 mins to keep up the momentum of the date, then wander into the night to snog on the streets and find a night cap.

The Faults

The bill might surprise you; Wahaca it is not.

Sex Factor

2. A very decent pit stop but not the closer.

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.

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