Grimm’s Tales: 5 Ways to Date in London this WeekBy Alicia Grimshaw
Dating in London is similar to running though the Total Wipeout course, furiously dodging shoddy chat, cheap suits and hearing about his really cool holiday last year to Sharm el-Sheikh, it was all inclusive don’t you know.
If you’ve made it past the first obstacle of swiping right for each other (let’s face it, the majority of Londoners are on Tinder and if they aren’t they’re on find a fish) and have managed to sustain more conversation other than where he went to uni in 2003 and your love of cat memes, you’re on course for a date. But this is where its gets tricky, where is right for a date? You want to show your date you know the right places and that you don’t end up taking them to the local pub with Kev propping up the bar whilst eating his third packet of scampi fries. This is where I come in. Each week i’ll be guiding you around London’s best watering holes, restaurants and fun places that are much better than that ‘urban gastro pub’ you read about.
What They Say: Opened in 2010 by Jamie Oliver, Barbecoa is a celebration of incredible produce and fire-based cooking. Our chefs create beautiful, seasonal dishes using traditional techniques such as the Texas pit smoker, Argentine grill, Japanese robata grill, tandoor and wood-fired oven. The love and passion for our food can be felt throughout the restaurant, with heavenly aromas circling the dining area.
What We Say: Going on a first date to try a Bourbon and rib pairing menu is a bold shout, some might say crazy – yet, if you can eat ribs on a first date you’re onto a winner. Granted, the whole meat in the teeth thing can be off-putting, but it’s about shunning your knife and fork and getting stuck in. Each course is paired with a different whiskey cocktail and if all else fails and the chat turns to ‘The time I went to a full-moon party in Thailand’ it’s time to hit the whiskey. The food is unbelievable with Korean back ribs for starter and Worcestershire-glazed short ribs with Irish champ for main – if anything, the ribs are the real talking point. If in doubt fall back on some bone innuendos and if the date flops (sorry) at least you’ve got some pretty pictures of your food for your Instagram.
Where: 20 New Change Passage, London, EC4M 9A
What They Say: Salmontini offers an incredible menu that fuses Modern European with high-end Japanese cuisine to exceptional effect, everything from the sushi to the steak is of the finest quality. Boasting a chic, modern but warm interior the restaurant hosts several separate spaces that make it ideal for private parties and larger gatherings without making the space feel disconnected or isolating.
What We Say: Salmontini is like being in a Berlin nightclub – dirty, filthy German techno beats pulsating through the surround sound speakers and if that’s not enough to deal with everyone in there looks like they’ve just walked off their yacht in Monte Carlo. Never has there been so many people with jumpers tied round their shoulders in one place. If there was ever a time to wear dark red chinos and a shirt or an ill-fitting bodycon dress, Salmontini is it. If you get can past the above, Salmontini is a pretty snazzy date spot. Probably best avoided if you’re one of those people who don’t share their food – I never understand people who don’t share their pilau rice at the local Indian. Starters include beetroot salad and pea soup or their Japanese counterparts, miso and spicy salmon skin salad. The Sushi is ocean fresh and is combined with expertly cooked sushi rice with touches of additional flavours to the sushi that only magnifies the taste. If you want to remember your wild holiday to ibiza, whilst chomping down on the finest sushi around, you’re in for an absolute treat.
Where: 1 Pont Street, Belgravia, London, SW1X 9EJ
What They Say: Dandelyan bar at Mondrian London on the South Bank opened in October 2014 and has enjoyed a phenomenal response from the public and rave reviews from the critics since its opening. Dandelyan is a bar inspired by the best of British and transatlantic botany brought into the modern day – the name, ‘Dandelyan’, originates from ‘Dandelion’ meeting ‘Mr Lyan’. Dandelyan bar is sumptuous and rich with a friendly and engaging neighbourhood feel, with a grand green marble bar running the length of the room with brushed gold and brass accents.
What We Say: As much as we want to relive those Wetherspoons days of buying a curry and a drink for £5, no one ever wants to be taken to Wetherspoons on a date, even if they say ‘Oh Wetherpoons! I just really like the local vibe’ they’re stone cold lying. If you’ve met someone and you’re into them – Dandelyan is the place to take them. Firstly, they have the finest collection of bi-folding doors in London and when they open them on a balmy summers night you get some pretty spectacular views of The Thames. Being on a date and drinking alcohol always seem to go hand in hand – surprise, surprise. At Dandelyan they give classic cocktails a makeover with their Sea Mountain Spritz, a blend of Galician cider with vodka and the Heartwood Old-Fashioned – whisky blended with Dandelyan resin bitters and oak syrup. If the date isn’t going to plan – neck a few cocktails, admire the view, then run to the nearest tube station (Waterloo or Southwark).
Where: 20 Upper Ground, London SE1 9PD
What They Say: Showcasing a selection up-and-coming performers, Raw Punch features live acoustic sessions by rising artists, vocalists, and songwriters every Sunday throughout the summer within the oak-panelled walls of the RSVP only venue, Punch Room. Inconspicuously concealed behind dark oak doors inside The London EDITION, Raw Punch provides stripped-back musical entertainment for guests as they enjoy carefully crafted cocktails.
What We Say: Visiting the Punch room feels like being an audience member at X factor and sitting in a drawing room at a National Trust home. There are pros of taking someone on a date to watch some live music a) everyone loves live music b) if conversation dries, you can constructivvely criticise the performers. Let’s weigh up the cons, there’s a big one. As much as live music is great, there’s always a problem with sustaining any decent conversation without it turning into interpretivete dance or just loud shouts and a lot of hand movements. The Punch Room is a wonderfully intimate space and is a date spot that will win you gold stars all round – it’s romantic, luxurious and boasts an air of exclusivity. Just make sure you book, no one wants to be turned away and end up on the night bus home with a reduced lasagne and some baked goods.
What They Say: Chocolate Ecstasy Tours is the home of indulgent, five-star guided chocolate tours around some of the most exclusive addresses in Brighton and London that will seduce any chocoholic. Better than a box of chocolates. This gift provides chocolate and quality time with you. Chocolate and gentle exercise both trigger pleasure-giving endorphins so you’re guaranteed to make someone very happy.
What We Say: A chocolate tour is a rogue choice for a date, but who doesn’t doesn’t love chocolate and this offers something way better than the chocolates you bought from a petrol station. The tour is 2 1/2 hours long, so if you aren’t getting along you have to wait until the end to bin them off. Forget your museum tours, city walking tours and stately home tours – this is tour is head and shoulders above the rest. Come hungry and pack comfy shoes – the tour guides you around some of the best chocolatiers in London, sip on hot chocolate, eat endless amounts of tuffles and chocolatey goodness. It’s a group situation, so if you aren’t comfortable with socialising with other humans on a date, forget it. This is a slightly sweeping statement, but everyone loves chocolate – unless they’re vegan and that would just be awkward.
Where: Buy tickets here