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Where to go on a date in London
… Whether you’re feeling laidback, lavish or somewhere in between. Plus: three fun things to do this week
Keep it cool

Some people go all-out for a first date, but it’s more relaxing to stay reasonably casual. Vermuteria in King’s Cross – a bar inspired by the cafes-slash-watering-holes of Spain, France and Italy – is ideal. Featuring over 100 vermouths, cocktails and more, the drinks menu is fascinating (so you’ll have at least one thing to talk about) and helpfully labelled (so choosing feels fun, not intimidating).

The booze is the star of the show here, but the ever-changing food menu is simple and tasty: think anchovies with slivers of lemon rind, hot salty Padron peppers and burrata with salsa verde. Grab an outdoor table for ample people-watching and two Original Veneziano spritzes and enjoy. 38-39 Coal Drops Yard, N1C

Take things up a notch

Reasoning that London has an endless supply of places serving poshed-up dude-food, hotdog and fizz spot Bubbledogs has had a bit of a shake-up. No longer a fast-casual pit-stop, it’s relaunched as a softly lit champagne bar with a particularly strong food offering – and it totally works.

It’s the perfect spot if you want a date to feel low-key romantic, but not stuffy. Order a few glasses of champagne with a couple of ultra-ritzy hot dogs (the French Connection with shaved foie gras and sherry vinegar jelly is the one), thus neatly sidestepping the no-dinner trap – and even if the date is terrible, do not leave without eating the comte-topped potato tots. So good. 70 Charlotte Street, W1

Push the boat out

If you really want to up the ante, go to Darby’s. A new NYC-inspired oyster bar and restaurant in Battersea (by the folk behind vaunted Clapham joints The Dairy, Sorella and Counter Culture), it’s big, beautiful and quite simply world-class.

That includes the look and feel – lovely, attentive-but-discreet staff; plush velvet booths; a glowing central bar (seriously, the official photos do not do this place justice, so have a scroll through Instagram) – as well as the food. And that food! A starter of stracciatella with peaches and olive oil is transcendently gorgeous. Mains are meat or fish (clean, white, perfectly crispy-skinned turbot; melt-in-your-mouth steak) with simple but effective sides. For dessert, the burnt honey cake with gelato is a particular highlight. Finish by rolling each other home alongside the glittering Thames: glorious. 3 Viaduct Gardens, SW11 ● Words by Moya Crockett and George Wales

More fun stuff you should know about 

Congregate Brixton is back this Saturday: head to Windrush Square from midday for free live music, talks and street food. Later that day, there’ll be stunts, cabaret and comedy in Bethnal Green at live feminist wrestling event Eve: Riot Grrrls of Wrestling (from 7.30pm, £25).

And on 20 August, Stylist Loves readers can get an exclusive 2-for-1 offer on tickets to Somerset House’s Film4 Summer Screen showing of Jane Campion’s classic period drama The Piano. Claim the offer here, and be quick – there’s limited availability. 

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Image credits: James Bryant Photography
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