Gin & Jazz, Intercontinental Hotel, Park Lane

2 years ago

The Vibe

Oh this is a real gem, a hidden treasure in the crown of the frantic search for a novel yet fun-yet-romantic-but-not-too-much, date. Any evening in a luxury Park Lane hotel is going to be a little special, yet the fancy free element of a night of live jazz music fuelled with gin cocktails is almost fool proof – no pressure. With a pre-set schedule with roughly monthly shows, you’ll be able to book in ahead of time and wow your date with your forethought and imagination.

The Order

Hotel bars are ace at snacks – you’ll find olives, crisps and nuts on your table – a little touch, yet it makes all the difference. The main game however is the cocktails (served by glamorous waitresses who glide about in dresses and perfect lipstick) – it’s testament to the fact that you’re in a five star hotel that the ‘Poor Man’s Punch’ is served with Hendricks gin. Those who like clean fresh tastes will love the Prudence made with Sipsmith Gin, basil and citrus – or perhaps mix things up with the Black ‘Berry’ Market which provocatively mixes Whitley Neil with Sipsmith Sloe Gin. Eeeek.

The Game

Once you are sure that they’re worthy of this special night, arrange a quick, early dinner somewhere close by to line your stomachs. The shows don’t start until 9pm so get something inside you before you head over and take your seats. Bar snacks are available and the Tuna Tartare is a winner so you won’t go hungry however make sure you focus on several rounds of cocktails as the music whisks you both away. There’s usually a brief interval, an excellent time to make your move, then sit holding hands for the entire second half – old fashioned romance done well.

The Faults

If you wanted to go gung ho on the conversation, the music is a bit of a distraction. But really?!

Sex Factor

4.

Nam Long Le Shaker, Chelsea

2 years ago

The Vibe

Nestled at the far end of the Old Brompton Road, far from the ostentatious eateries of Knightsbridge or the pretentious members clubs of Mayfair, Nam Long Le Shaker just gets on and does it’s thing. That ‘thing’ involves providing excellent Asian fusion food, serving infamous ‘Flaming Ferrari’ cocktails to bankers, celebrities and royalty, and generally offering you the opportunity to seriously let loose, but only if you’re in the know.

The Order

Eating? Go for the Nam Long Summer rolls and be utterly blown away by the Siu Yuk Bao – crispy pork belly is always a winner. Go for a mix of large plates and Dim Sum – all perfect to share. This isn’t a sober night however – pretend to be civilised by starting with Martinis or even a cold bottled beer, yet realise you won’t leave here without throwing caution to the wind and ordering Flaming Ferraris all round.

The Game

The place hots up late. It’s open until 2.30am so pace yourself and aim for a late dinner. Book a corner table and meet there. Share food, build up your momentum and watch and learn as people start streaming in. The bar downstairs is newly refurbished and the ideal setting for cosying up with cocktails afterwards – replace talking with kissing as the music amps up.

The Faults

Shots will be done, things can get messy/super fun.

Sex Factor

4.

Spring, Somerset House

2 years ago

The Vibe

Where better to head, when days are getting brighter, night falls later and winter is out the back door, than a restaurant called Spring. One of the most beautiful rooms in recent restaurant design – a 19th century room, brightly lit –  this ethereal place is located in the New Wing at Somerset House. It’s breathtaking – the food, the waiters, the vast marble bar….Go there now.

The Order

If you can sneak away at lunchtime, the set menu (£27.50) with a few glasses of the Riesling is fantastic, and the room alive and bright during the day. Highlights include a sea bream with aubergine, curry leaves and sambal.  If you’re going for the evening, you’ll find a sumptuous room and indulgent feasting awaiting you. Produce is seasonal and of such high quality that recommendations are simply not needed here. Sommeliers will match wines for you, just let them.

The Game

Oh the options! You’ve got Waterloo Bridge right outside with stunning views of London from either side – walk over this before or after to set the tone or seal the deal. On a Saturday, you can see if there’s a show at Somerset House to warm up for a long and tipsy lunch. Wander the courtyard, soak in the rays and wait for your date to arrive, bathed in flattering sunlight. Then walk in together and get ordering. The restaurant itself requires no game (besides an advised reservation) – it’ll work it’s magic for you.

The Faults

 

Dinner a la carte won’t be cheap.

Sex Factor

4.

L’ETO, South Kensington

2 years ago

The Vibe

Brompton Road has seriously upped its gastronomic game of late. You can find good coffee, cuisines of all nations, fancy pants restaurants and many excellent dating hot spots. LEto cleverly bridges the gap between cafe and restaurant, plucking the best from both worlds and coming up with an offering that can lend itself to whatever date night you’d like.

The Order

As in their Belgravia branch, LEto Brompton Road offers a full dinner menu extending far beyond the plentiful Ottolenghi style salads that are spread out alluringly in the window. Start with the Crab Avocado Salad and progress to Seabass Ravioli in Lobster Bisque whilst discussing how long ago the summer seems. Like a kid in a candy shop, you can head up to the counter and choose your dessert – an excellent indicator of taste in a date.

The Game

Adaptable and easy, LEto can be as big or as small a part of your evening as you wish. As welcoming and pleasant for an early evening coffee and cake as it is for a full three course dinner, it’s the ideal place if you want to leave your plans open. Book ahead if you can to avoid queuing on the street – less South Ken, more Soho. Nightcaps elsewhere could work well – we recommend Ramusake.

The Faults

There’s a vague coffee shop feel at times, yet it’s perfect for informal chatter

Sex Factor

2.

Tried and True, Putney

3 years ago

The Vibe

There’s a reason this place, in a location relatively off the beaten track, is regularly packed with a crowd as loyal as those to a central London eatery. The food and coffee here refuses to be anything less than outstanding, every time. It’s the place that locals come to, and wish that they could keep as their secret. Bright, beachy design and cheerful staff only add to the bliss.

The Order

Ever heard of a Pulled Pork Benedict? Neither had we – however Tried and True‘s is award winning. Rest assured that lighter options are available – the scrambled eggs are whisked into a thing of beauty, the avocado sides are generous, there’s toasted muesli and organic produce galore. Coffee is serious here – Red Brick Espresso will set you up for the day.

The Game

Wake with sore heads and see with joy that Uber is playing ball sans surcharge for once. Head over mid morning and go all out for a brunch that’ll satisfy you all day. Order two mains and share bites of the other’s. If it’s warm, seek out the sunspot of a garden outside and feel your hangover slip quickly out of sight.

The Faults

Avoid the times when the children of South West London are brought here for their babycinos.

Sex Factor

3.

Pont St, Belgraves Hotel, Belgravia

3 years ago

The Vibe

Whilst hotel bars are to die for, hotel restaurants can be hit and miss. Pont St claims to be a neighbourhood restaurant at heart, and all we can say is: lucky neighbours. This place is definitely in the hotel restaurant hit list – the food is truly outstanding, the venue elegant yet cosy and the good looking staff make this the ultimate dating hot spot.

The Order

Go for the crudités to start- Gizzi Erskine digs them and they’re more like a farmer’s market on a plate than your standard carrots and hummus. Guys, don’t panic – you will get full and you can both swiftly move on to Slow Roast Pork Belly or the Belgraves Bespoke burger (yes, truffle mayonnaise really does exist). Desserts are divine – the panna cotta totally melts in the mouth. Start with a glass of champagne and move on to a bottle of the Malbec.

The Game

You don’t need a game plan when you’re in a place like Pont St. Meet at the bar with your table already booked (reserve ahead, thank god it’s not Soho). Take your seats after a Gin and Tonic perched on stools and get cosy in the booth style banquettes. Flirt outrageously knowing there’s a hotel just floors above you. Choose to go home or to stay, anything is possible.

The Faults

The address is Chesham Place, not Pont Street – act like a local and let your date know in advance.

Sex Factor

4. Faultless and effortless, leaving the two of you to focus on your evening.

Beany Green, Broadgate Circle

3 years ago

The Vibe

The best bits of Bondi in the heart of London’s City. Deckchairs outside and bunches of bananas on the tables are playful touches at this absolute haven, mere seconds from Liverpool Street station. Head up the steps at Broadgate Circle and take your seat on the balcony here to watch the world go by with your choice of drink in hand – craft beer or chia smoothie, prosecco bubbles or flat white froth. The food changes throughout the day – bountiful brunches, Ottolenghi style salads, and endless snacking potential in between.

The Order

We tried the Bottomless Brunch. If you’re hanging from the night before, this is beyond ideal – get ‘The Bondi’ and you’ll be ready for a Hair of the Dog in no time. If you’re a health nut, you’re also in for a treat – apparently there really is such a thing as ‘Gluten Free Broccoli Bread’. Share a ‘Banana Bread Sandwich’ afterwards – it’s a sight to be seen and it’ll be up on your Instagram within minutes.

The Game
You really won’t get to the bottom of this brunch, but it’ll be the perfect excuse to sit for a couple of hours and discuss your date fun so far. London weekends can get same-y but Beany Green is playful, fun and packed with lovely people and produce. Arrive hungry and together, it’s casual here and you can snuggle up under rugs and heaters feeling cocooned and indulged.

The Faults

The location is quiet at weekends, however this can definitely work in your favour and you’ll see a different side to the city.

Sex Factor
2. (You probably did that last night though)

St Clements, Parsons Green

3 years ago

The Vibe

The very best of South West London – immaculately bare wooden floor boards, piles of cookbooks on rustic shelves, excellent coffee, beautiful people, several puppies making friends, fresh roses in vintage vases on each table. Oh, and your menu of course comes on brown paper attached to a clipboard to be perused whilst people watching the stunners of Parsons Green stroll by.

The Order

There’s a strong focus on suppliers and quality here – the majority of the produce is from the UK; English strawberries, Yorkshire bacon, Isle of Wight tomatoes. Perhaps that’s why everything tastes delicious. Go for baked eggs with chorizo, tomato and spinach, or try the corn fritters which come piled with bacon, avocado, tomatoes and greenery. Have at least one coffee, the baristas know their stuff.

The Game

You’ll live in the area, and be cruising past on a weekend morning. Soak up the last of the Summer rays outside on the decking where you’ll see and be seen for a few dreamy hours. Take the newspapers and acknowledge that you’re possibly lining yourself up for the ‘chat’ to make things official. This place is couply, so cosy up and enjoy.

The Faults

There will be Micro Scooters.

Sex Factor

3.

Hawksmoor Guildhall, City

3 years ago

The Vibe

The crowned kings of steaks and seafood are apparently not content with filling their vast city space for both lunch and dinner. Rather they’re now completely acing the city boy’s breakfast too, gaining high praise from the likes of GQ and beyond. The building is in the heart of Guildhall, the doors large and imposing, the room overflows with testosterone – yet dates work here. Power breakfasts for the super slick, or a Friday morning after a Thursday night that never quite ended, Hawksmoor will feed and water you in style.

The Order

The Bloody Mary’s are sensational, as is the Marmalade Cocktail. Double espressos can come afterwards, when the clock strikes and you head to your desks. All bases are covered on the menu which offers an overdose of meat with the ‘Hawksmoor‘ Breakfast or Fillet Steak and eggs, or slightly more female friendly options like Hawksmoor Smoked Salmon with scrambled eggs. It’s too early in the day to share food, so stick to your own plates and chat as you chomp.

The Game

Depending on what’s preceded your arrival, your game may vary. If you’re a few dates in and squeezing in a breakfast meet up, find each other at the table and enjoy a pre work flirt in the one of the cosy banquettes. If you’re the type of guy who reads emails on the treadmill and dates at breakfast because it’s time efficient, use this absolute winner of a space to check out potential Tinderellas. If it’s the morning after, stumble in together and beg for a table, and lots of carbs.

The Faults

City boy heaven, hipster hell.

Sex Factor

4.

Source, Battersea

3 years ago

The Vibe

Battersea locals love it here, and smugly sit as the rest of London flocks to get a taste too. It’s cosy, intimate, combining a hint of Soho House style design with all the culinary sourcing and trendy focus on provenance of a Michelin starred restaurant. Super casual yet exceptionally good food and wine, arrange a date here and you’ll be in there – big time.

The Order

Everyone is catered for at Source – from full on foodies to flimsy fussy eaters – there are great husks of bread, or petite carrot amuse-bouches. Get a few starters and share them – you’ll only get food envy if you don’t. The lamb (Welsh, from Daphne’s farm obvs) and the beef (from Yorkshire, Swaledale if you must know) are both exceptional. If you’re visiting in summer months, check out their Riesling selection – they say it’s the new Rose. If it’s cold outside, hunker down with a bottle of red after a Damson cocktail.

The Game

Transport is a minor blip here so meet at the venue (it’s OK to pretend you didn’t get the bus if you think it’ll make you more attractive) plus you don’t want to walk over the bridge BEFORE dinner – that’s the after dinner treat, when it’s sparkling with lights. Start with cocktails and the Balthazar bread (yep, worth the carb consumption oh flimsies) then knuckle down to a full three courses with wine. Request a table by the window if possible so you can overlook the lock and discuss how you’d love to live on a houseboat one day….

The Faults

Nearby public transport. Enter Uber.

Sex Factor

4.

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