The Adam and Eve, Hackney

4 years ago

The Vibe

The Adam and Eve doesn’t sit on the greatest street, but boy is it a handsome pub. Recently refurbished, the striking facade of cream terracotta really shows off its Edwardian heritage. Inside, it looks like your average London watering hole – a little uninspiring truth be told. But, give it a chance, saunter round back and you won’t Adam and Eve it! (See what I did there?). The L shaped pool table is the first of many novelties that will catch your eye. Continue onwards into the garden and you’ll find a mini paradise of mismatched vintage furniture, low hanging light bulbs and an annex filled with quirky trinkets – great conversation starters. With plenty of nooks and crannies, The Adam and Eve accommodates a mixed clientele of Hackney locals, convivial after work groups and cosy couples.

The Order

Pub grub this is not. The kitchen is working alongside The Cornwall Project, a scheme which aims to bring Cornwall’s finest produce straight to the plates of London. Go for half a Cornish lobster served with crunchy green bean salad and vibrant gremolata (a garnish made with chopped parsley, garlic and grated lemon zest) – a real steal for a tenner. Barbequed on the grill out back, the crustacean is dowsed with the ultimate lobster sauce just before serving. A sort of buerre noisette (or cooked butter to you and me), it is flavoured with the lobster’s juices to create a rich and decadent dressing – in the words of Head Chef Michael Harrison, it’s utterly ‘obscene’.

For something meatier, the Beef Onglet or Middle White Pork Chop will hit the spot. Accompany with sides of chips and BBQ corn on the cob.

The Game

Hip and happening, The Adam and Eve is a great card to play around three to four dates in. Pick a weekend where you’ve got time on your hands to kick back and really embrace the summer scene. Go straight to the garden, grab a deckchair  and spend the afternoon sipping chilled white wine or sampling local ales whilst watching the lobsters roast on the grill. As the sun goes down, move into the annex and onto the stronger stuff. Suggest a nightcap back at yours and get a taxi outta there.

The Faults

Ordering at the bar eats into flirtation time so stock up while you’re there.

Sex Factor

3. Lazing on a sunny afternoon…

Brasserie Gustave, Chelsea

4 years ago

The Vibe

Sitting on the corner of Sydney Street, the exterior of Brasserie Gustave is classic, modest and understated. Named after Gustave Eiffel (any ideas what this chap is famous for?), the restaurant is modelled on a typically French brasserie with Parisian posters, warm yellow walls and vases of sunflowers reminiscent of Van Gogh’s artistic exploits in the sunshine of Southern France. This marriage of north and south combines Parisian sophistication with the relaxed and rustic atmosphere of Provence – a perfect balance of elegant yet unpretentious dining.

The Order

The chef, Laurence Glayzer, has a prestigious background – puttin’ on The Ritz, Harry’s Bar, Browns Hotel and The Arch respectively – so expect the classics done to perfection. Start with Escargots or Moules – embrace the garlic, this is French dining after all. For main, meat is a must. The Onglet de boeuf is unbelievably tender and the hand-cut Tartare de Boeuf is mixed at your table. Accompany with more frites and broccoli scattered with almonds. An aromatic glass of red wine – Duc de Nauves – sets the meat off beautifully.

To conclude, have Crêpes Suzette à la Victor for two to avoid dessert envy. Flambéed before your eyes it’s the perfect after dinner entertainment, adding a touch of memorable theatricality to your date. Sip a rich glass of Muscat alongside, close your eyes, hold hands and pretend you’re in Paris.

The Game

Go straight through into dinner – save the downstairs bar for after. Begin with Gustave Brasserie’s take on a Bellini, served with a choice of homemade purée – the blackcurrant Bellini has a pleasing tartness and makes for the perfect apéritif. Allow the French soundtrack to inspire your romancing and as the lights get dimmer let your flirtation get bolder.

After dinner, descend to the downstairs bar and go from relatively well-behaved to positively bohemian. The ornate absinthe fountain is a particularly attractive feature – filled with iced water, cucumber and mint, allow this fusion to drip from the delicate taps into your absinthe until the familiar opalescent milkiness is created, and the desired strength reached. Sit side by side next to the fountain and let the green fairy do her magic.

The Faults

Tough one! The intimate space may be a little too much for a first time nervous dater.

Sex Factor

4. Bringing a little bonhomie to the heart of Chelsea.

 

Pont Plage at Le Pont de la Tour, Tower Bridge

4 years ago

The Vibe

South side of the river, Tower Bridge is dominated by the commercial enterprises of powerhouses such as the Ernst & Young and PwC offices. It’s a place of corporate hustle and bustle where the word ‘holiday’ is synonymous with retirement. And yet, what’s this? A row of blue and white striped deck chairs lining the bank off the Shad Thames? Colourful bunting, beach towels, buckets and spades, chains of dangling oyster shells?! ‘Is this a mirage?’ you may ask yourself, staring down at your pinstripe suit and leather briefcase. No, this is land ahoy on the horizon of your sea of work – this is Pont Plage.

From June till September, the folks at Le Pont de la Tour have decided that if London can’t make it to the beach, the beach will come to London. The Thames-side terrace, offering stunning views of Tower Bridge, has been transformed into a 1920s beach-inspired retreat. With outdoor heating, pillows and blankets, you can be transported to the Riviera whatever the weather.

The Order

Push the boat out, get into holiday mode and start with a glass of champers and half a doz. Colchester Rock Oysters. Move on to Salt & Pepper Squid with citrus aioli and Deep fried Soft Shell Crab – kick back and relax.

Half a roasted lobster comes with garlic butter, and is beautifully presented – dressed and ready to eat, you won’t have to surrender any dating decorum to enjoy this luxury. If craving something meatier, the steaks are locally sourced from Heron’s Farm in Essex – get the Rib-Eye with Béarnaise sauce and fill out the main with sides of pommes frites (make that two orders) and fine French beans.

For dessert, the Cheese Cake with summer berries and a quenelle of palate cleansing lime sorbet is the perfect way to finish. Enjoy with a golden, sweet Loupiac, Château de Ricaud, served in a crystal glass.

The Game

You’ve been thinking of taking the next step and going away together for a while now, but that pesky high pressure job just won’t let you go. You stare wistfully out of your office window overlooking the Thames, dreaming of sun, sand and Sex on the Beach. Plans have been pushed aside, remade and broken and it’s time to do something about it. As the scorchers start to set in – escape to Pont Plage!

This seaside date tactic is foolproof. After a celebratory glass of champagne order the first of many rounds of cocktails – the signature Pont Plage (Tanqueray Gin, Lillet White Vermouth, grapefruit liqueur and grapefruit bitters) is balanced and refreshing, and the Rosemary Negroni is perfection. As dusk falls over the Thames and Tower Bridge lights up, grab a blanket and go for one last cocktail snuggled up on the deckchairs. Work? What work?

The Faults

I couldn’t possibly.

Sex Factor

5. Hello sailor…

 

Pescatori, Fitzrovia

4 years ago

The Vibe

The sun! I finally see the sun! Dare I say it, why not…shall I? Summer is here! (Disclaimer: Social Concierge will not be held responsible for any rainfall between now and September). As London breathes a sigh of relief into the summer air, opening up its park gates and unfolding the deck chairs, restaurants are beginning to fling open the terrace doors and spill out onto the pavements. And Pescatori is no different. With its brand new outdoor terrace and seasonal menu to match, these guys are all set for the summer.

The family run restaurant is located on the quieter end of Charlotte Street – a hot spot for budding socialites with its various bars and kooky culinary offerings. As you approach, eyes are drawn to small trees adorned with welcoming fairy lights, white tablecloths and flowers arranged in delicate silver pots. Businessmen chat on the terrace, winding down after the day’s work, whilst couples consort over cocktails and larger groups can be heard indulging from within. The interior is an assortment of Venetian style arches and white walls mixed in with contemporary design and flamboyant touches – there’s a boat suspended above the kitchen! But let’s face it, in this glorious weather, it’s got to be an al fresco affair.

The Order

As the name suggests, Pescatori or Fishermen, specialises in fish and seafood. Begin boldly with a dozen Jersey Rock Oysters: crisp, fresh and light, they are the perfect way to kick start some summer luvin’. For main, share the Sogliola: a whole grilled Cornish Dover Sole served on the bone with sautéed samphire, cockles and soft herbs – it is simply divine. Gentlemen, if feeling brave and eager to impress, you may attempt to fillet the fish yourself, otherwise leave it in the capable hands of your friendly server. Be liberal with side orders of Zucchini Fritti, Patatine Fritte (thinly sliced fried potatoes) and a heritage tomato salad for form’s sake.

To finish, the Blueberry Cheese Cake or palate cleansing Sicilian Lemon Tart will do the job nicely over a Limoncello.

The Game

Stick to the terrace and order a couple of Bellinis immediately and without hesitation – the peach puree is made on site, so if this doesn’t scream Italian summer seduction nothing will. Take your time over the menu, nibbling on iced plump green olives and Italian breads while chatting holiday plans. Go on to an excellent bottle of Pinot Grigio and allow the novelty of dining outdoors to wash over you along with the floral bouquet of the wine. After dinner, having taken full advantage of every ray of sunshine, head underground to The London Cocktail Club on Goodge Street for some naughtiness or the Charlotte Street Hotel’s Oscar Bar for classic romancin’.

The Faults

The terrace doesn’t offer much of a view – all the more reason to get lost in each other’s eyes.

Sex Factor

3. That’s amore…

 

 

The Blues Kitchen, Shoreditch

4 years ago

The Vibe

Oh boy, this place is crazy cool! Just think: chandeliers made of gramophone speakers, a lobster tank behind the bar, 50s caravan at the back (seriously, it’s totally Breaking Bad with the Mexican heat thrown in) and a platform for the blues baby. One word to sum up: FREAKIN’ FUN – OK, two words.

You don’t come to The Blues Kitchen for a quiet candlelit dinner accompanied by the bourgeois soundtrack of cutlery on china plates and chattering businessmen. Oh no, you come here to holler determinedly over the soundtrack, hear mixologists turn ice cubes into maracas and snog each other’s face off in the dark recesses of the dance floor. On opening night, there’ s that brilliant electric atmosphere which comes with the feeling that all the cool people in town are in the same place.

The Order

All the Texan BBQ classics are on offer for you to wrap your chops around, with a few more unusual extras: “We’ll have the alligator please, and make it snappy!” (Warning: do NOT crack this joke if you ever want to see the inside of their bedroom). Get involved, embrace the messiness of it all and lick your fingers seductively at your date. Other mouth-watering options include whole Canadian Lobster to get claw-cracking on with (£19.95), mean St Louis Ribs (£14.50), lovingly Pulled Pork sandwiches (£11) and Pan Fried Catfish (£12.90).

The Game

Do a Steve McQueen and order your cocktails in twos – when this place gets going you’re looking at a twenty minute wait between drinks. Guys try and avoid going for the classic “Old Fashioned” and branch out with a “Zombie” – 5 Rums, fresh lime, grapefruit juice and absinthe, it packs one hell of a welcome punch. Served in a large plastic pineapple it’s also a real hoot and will bring light-heartedness to a tense first date. Ladies, the Clover Club (Beefeater Gin, fresh lemon, grenadine and egg white) is deliciously elegant and slips down a treat. Grab a booth, work through the cocktail list (reasonable priced from £7-£9.50) and comment to each other on the blues legends adorning the bare brick walls. After dinner has soaked up some of the booze, grab your date and dance your socks off.

The Faults

This is fast and furious dating – not for those desiring a quiet, restrained and intimate dinner. 

Sex Factor

4. Go for it, cowboy.

 

Tom’s Kitchen, Chelsea

4 years ago

The Vibe

Celebrity chef Tom Aikens’ restaurant, Tom’s Kitchen, sits just off of King’s road, round the corner from St. Luke’s – an impressive and picturesque church. The quiet and scenic street fits in nicely with the whole aura of Tom’s Kitchen. It’s a relaxed and pastoral space, with a thoughtful balance of clean cut and rustic features. Rotating fans and neat white tiling are set off nicely against dark brickwork, wooden tables and chairs and nostalgic pictures of the English countryside. The open kitchen adds to the buzz of business groups, yummy mummies and cosy couples indulging in British comfort food at its finest.

The Order

Kick things off with a couple of cocktails whilst perusing the menu. The meat here is magnificent and generously cut so start with something fishy and light. The Hand-Dived Scallops are fresh and perfectly caramelised with grilled leeks and an earthy leek vinaigrette. The Evesham Asparagus is served creatively with a pea pancake and poached hen’s egg.

For the main event, the Grilled Lamb Rump or Spiced Pork Belly are both divine. Have alongside the Truffle Chips with shards of Parmesan and wash it all down with a heavenly bottle of Montepulciano.

To finish, share the Ice Cream Sundae with peanut butter brownie and chocolate fudge sauce and be as seductive with your spoons as possible.

The Game

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OK, so yo’ve done the quick fire speed date test at Pizza Union, got down and dirty at the London Cocktail Club and committed to the mature, lingering dinner date at Blanchette. Now you’re ready to spend the whole day together.

Tom’s Kitchen fits in nicely with a long Saturday date. Head over to Chelsea and depending on the weather spend the day either pottering around the boutique shops lining King’s Road, or pop into the Saatchi gallery for a touch of cultural bonding. A pub stop at The Jam Tree breaks the day up nicely and whets the appetite for the comforting, hearty dinner to come. Make sure you’ve reserved the table next to the old converted brick fireplace – the alcove shades you nicely from the other punters, offering a sense of intimacy without being overly isolated. Clink glasses and look entrancingly at each other with the knowledge that there’s no work tomorrow.

The Faults

Celebrity chef = celebrity prices

Sex Factor

3. You’ll be smitten over the sundae.

Pizza Union, Spitalfields

4 years ago

The Vibe

Fast, furious and fire-baked, this Pizza Bar appreciates the Londoner’s need for speed. Joining the many other eateries offered in and around Spitalfields market, the contemporary industrial decor reflects no-nonsense dining with quality ingredients and superveloce service. At the forefront is a giant dome shaped traditional stone pizza oven, serving up thin and crispy pizzas baked to perfection in a matter of minutes. The space is a communal one, with long banquet style wooden tables at the centre, red neon lighting and edgy ventilation shafts lining the ceiling.

This joint is best visited at lunchtime, when the trendy Italian bar is filled with boisterous suits indulging on artisan pizza before closing the afternoon deals. It’s a casual and relaxed date, with the hip and happening atmosphere of East London thrown in.

The Order

All the classics are on offer (such as the Fiorentina and Reine) alongside a flexible selection of extra toppings. Order at the bar and grab a glass of mixed, plump olives to tie you over the three minutes it’ll take for your pizza to be prepared, blasted in the fire-oven and waiting for you at the pickup point. The drinks list is pleasing and modestly priced, with a range of Italian beers (from £2.80), Prosecco (£15) and wines (£11.50 per bottle).

If craving something sweet, the Dolce dessert (a dough ring filled with mascarpone and nutella – naughty, but oh so nice) will hit the spot.

The Game

This super-fast pizza fits a speed date scenario perfectly. For the business men and women of Bishopsgate, who struggle to fit romance into the work schedule, Pizza Union offers a window of dating opportunity. You’ve bumped into each other umpteenth times now on the coffee run en route to the office. The queue chat has progressed from conversational, to fun and finally a little bit flirty. Be brave and go for it: “Hey, fancy grabbing a bit of lunch later?”. Exchange numbers, meet at the restaurant and take time to smell the proverbial flowers – or in this case, the pepperoni. Order a bottle of extra dry Italian Prosecco and enjoy the thrill of letting your hair down with some lunchtime drinking. Share a cheeky peck before heading back to the office, with the promise to do it all again soon.

Alternatively, Pizza Union would make the ideal pit stop in the midst of a drunken date night around Shoreditch and Brick Lane. Overrun with boozy offerings, such as The Mayor of  Scaredy Cat Town and edgy Apples and Pears, pizza and bubbles is excellent sustenance for a wild night on the town.

The Faults

With dating this underplayed, you could easily fall into the doomed category of “friend” – so make sure you play your pizza right.

Sex Factor

2. There’s booze, there’s carbs – it’s a sturdy start.

Wright Brothers, Spitalfields

4 years ago

The Vibe

As spring fast approaches, we are becoming far less inclined to spend evenings hibernating in cosy pubs with hearty wine and fayre. Rather, we are looking to embrace the merry month of May – to spend long and lazy afternoons, moseying around in the sunlight and honey blossom, drinking Pimms and pairing up on the picnic blanket.

Wright Brothers fits in perfectly with the spring scene. The fresh and vibrant shellfish on offer anticipates trips full of sun, sea and summer lovin’. Both leisurely and luxurious, the interior features spinning fans, wooden banquettes, nautical paraphernalia and glass oil lamps. The elegant Carrara marble bar takes centre place, along with tanks overflowing with oysters, King crabs and lobster. Touch knees at the bar, sipping cocktails and picking out your dinner from the tanks, or dine indulgently in one of the intimate booths.

The Order

From ‘sea-to-plate’ is the Wright Brothers’ philosophy – you can’t get fresher than that. Begin with a dozen oysters, hand-picked from azure tanks and prepared before your eyes. Keep half au naturel and adorn the others with jalapeño dressing; creamy, light and zesty, it accompanies the oysters perfectly, without stealing the show.

Next depends on how adept you are with a pair of crackers. If confident in the handling of such implements, opt for a whole brown crab and bond over the process of foraging for your food. However, if you seek immediate satisfaction, share a selection from the “Shellfish” and “Kitchen”. The Crab Croquettes are not to be passed over: crunchy and light, they are generously filled with rich brown crabmeat. The Scallops served on the shell, Mackerel and Blood Orange Salad and Raw Sea Bream with a bright pistachio vinaigrette are also not to be missed.

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To reach perfection, finish with a Chocolate and Salted Caramel pot, alongside a glass of fruity Hungarian dessert wine.

The Game

Spend a couple of carefree hours browsing round Old Spitalfields Market – gentleman, buy the lady a flower garland to really bring the romance up a notch. Break up the afternoon with a drink and fun game of pool at The Water Poet (avoid becoming over competitive around the pool table!). As the stalls start to clear away, and the bustling crowd dies down, wrap your arms around each other and saunter over to the Wrights Brothers for oysters sourced from HRH Prince Charles’s estate and a glass of crisp white wine. After such an idyllic supper, the evening is literally your oyster.

The Faults

Aphrodisiac or not – if your date’s not a seafood lover, the evening may lack a little lustre. However, if they even hint at a liking for crustacean, this is the place to impress.

Sex Factor

4. Seafood at its sexiest.

Barts, Chelsea

4 years ago

The Vibe

To celebrate five years of prohibition partying, successfully undetected by the local authorities (though I’ve heard there’s been some close calls), Uncle Barts authorised the refurbishment of his beloved bar (or rather B&B – wink, wink). Working throughout the night to avoid rousing suspicion, Uncle Barts’ team proudly unveiled the new look in a raucous party which, according to rumours circulating Chelsea Cloisters, lasted a fortnight.

The already elegant salon has been spruced up with chintz wallpaper, antique mirrors, leather banquettes and taxidermy forest animals (mementos, so I’ve been reliably informed, of Uncle Barts’ hunting excursion in Hampshire). The vintage fancy dress trunk has been generously replenished for those who wish to go incognito or merely desire donning a wig. Don’t be alarmed if you discover the bartender wearing a shoulder holster – you never know when there will be a raid.

The Order

The old favourites are still on offer, served up in the same eccentric vessels that can only be found at Barts : share a Top Hat (£90), Gramophone (£90) or a Teapot (£55) overflowing with cocktails that do the Charleston on your taste buds. The Hibiscus-infused Tanqueray Malacca gin, with apple juice, fresh lime and gomme syrup is presented behind a smokescreen encased in a Chinese Lantern. Utterly delicious, you can barely taste the booze, but boy do you feel the kick!

The Game

Enter into character, maybe dropping in a few Raymond Chandler quotes (but don’t overdo it with the Chicago accent!). It’s all in the name of good honest fun, so make use of the fancy dress box whilst you soak up the scene – and more importantly the delicious cocktails on offer. Start with a couple of “Relaxing Pearlages” (Moët & Chandon NV Brut champagne, camomile and cardamom). Celebratory and effervescent they set you up nicely for a Top Hat or Tea Pot which will turn the city girl into a 20s flapper and the Barclay’s boy into Frank Sinatra. Stumble out through the cloisters, kiss passionately and fling yourself into the nearest taxi – solo or together is up to you.

The Faults

You need to go when it’s bustling to really soak up the speakeasy scene: Thursday – Saturday is when things start to heat up.

Sex Factor

3. There’s something so sexy about a life of crime.

 

Franco Manca, Tottenham Court Road

4 years ago

The Vibe

Franco Manca is perched amongst the many culinary offerings which line Tottenham Court Road. It’s a competitive spot, but they’re holding their own. On a Wednesday the joint is bustling: quirky staff scoot between tables, chatting playfully in Italian, whilst chefs launch sourdough into the air and skilfully fling freshly prepared pizzas into a wood burning, brick oven. There’s very little ceremony here. Once seated, everything required will be found at your table and once served, you are blissfully left to your own delicious devices. This is attractively rustic and frivolous dating, pretension free but nonetheless offering high quality fare within a fun and lively setting.

The Order

This is not just a pizza place, this is the pizza place. Everything is fresh and organic: the wine is bright and sulphite free, the ingredients locally sourced where possible (see the back of the menu for details).

Nibble on plump Nocellara Green Olives and Buffalo Mozzarella (with cappocolo ham or wild pig prosciutto) while getting creative with the additional toppings on your order. Whatever you do, make sure the cured chorizo is on there: earthy and flavoursome, it’s seriously good sausage! There’s something so classically romantic about sharing a pizza – gents, be gallant, the last slice goes to the lady.

Finish with a chunky piece of Lemon and Almond cake, infused with olive oil and rosemary, and served with honeyed yoghurt.

The Game

You’ve felt some sparks with that girl/guy at work for a while now. You know – the one that makes your heart jump everytime they breeze past the conference room. Unsure how to proceed? Franco Manca is perfect for a test run date.

Begin with a casual proposition: “Wanna grab some pizza?” – an offer hard to decline. There’s likely to be a queue at the restaurant, but take this in your stride. Throw out the fact that you’re waiting for the best pizza in town and pass the time discussing the day’s work – save the flirtatious chat for the table. Be seated, gents loosen your tie, ladies remove the suit jacket: “That’s enough talk about work, let’s be cheeky and have a bottle” – let the dating commence. Finish the meal with a sly shot of Italian liqueur and, with Soho just around the corner, the game is on.

The Faults

It gets pretty chock-a-block – for fun and casual dating rather than intimate and serious romancing.

Sex Factor

3. It’s only just begun…

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