Interesting and unique: these restaurants in London make for some of the best dinner spots in the city.
Trying to find the perfect spot for a date is never easy. Between cheesy decor, over-the-top menus and pressure to book in somewhere romantic – the research for a place to eat can ruin the magic of the moment.
And, although there are plenty of fabulous restaurants in London that ooze romance (like these atmospheric French eateries for example), if you prefer finding somewhere a bit different, it can feel like an overwhelming task.
From all-out-glamour to hidden bars, we’ve found eight bars and restaurants in London that will wow your date for all the right reasons. Whether they have a speakeasy vibe, a fairy tale menu or lots of history behind them, all of these venues are bound to make for a unique, interesting and actually cool setting for a great date.
When it comes to optimum date atmosphere, few venues can rival the cosiness of a small, specialist wine bar. It’s a vibe that BOTTLES in Spitalfields pulls off flawlessly.
Tucked into the outer circuit of the East London market, this Italian eatery and wine bar may be small, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in friendly staff, great plonk and soft, atmospheric lighting.
The majority of the seats in BOTTLES are positioned around a long, central table which creates a sharing-style buzz. If you do fancy getting a bit more intimate, though, do ask to be seated in the front booth: it is the perfect spot for snuggling up.
Being a wine bar, the drinks menu is as resplendent as you’d imagine. The owners have searched far and wide to curate a list that includes unique regions and a range of vintages, sectioning wines by parts of Italy as well as type. If you fancy a nibble, we recommend ordering a cured meats and cheese board to have alongside your drinks.
There are many incredible restaurants in London. However, if you are searching for one with a cool, exclusive vibe, then MNKY HSE is well worth a visit.
From the outside, the restaurant looks like a discreet townhouse. The inside, though, is a modern day Cave of Wonders. Think dim lights, live music and the cosy and exciting atmosphere of an underground club.
If the location and design are great, the icing on the cake is still the mouth-watering food: the contemporary Latin-American tapas are perfect to share and enjoy together while sipping of one of the delicious house cocktails.
We recommend the fresh ceviches, incredible tempuras and the most amazing corn salad that you will ever eat, topped with a mountain of parmesan. If you have just one thing from the menu, make it the Chilean seabass – a delicious, buttery fish marinated in miso and chillies. Food has never tasted so good.
The Ivy Chelsea Garden
Cool doesn’t have to mean industrial pipework and hipster bar staff. In fact, we think incredible levels of style, attention to detail and fabulous service racks up a lot of cool points, especially at this London favourite of the rich and famous.
Nestled on the King’s Road in Chelsea, this West London haunt is beautiful, with seasonal flowers encasing the front door, gold ceilings, plush interiors and champagne bottles as far as the eye can see. The real showstopper, though, is the restaurant’s likeness to a greenhouse and garden: plant pots, foliage patterned furniture and greenery hangs from every angle, absolutely nailing the botanical trend.
Thankfully, this isn’t a case of style over substance, and the attentive staff and wow-factor menu make it the perfect place for a special date. There’s a special plant-based menu for vegans, while carnivores can choose from a selection of delicious, clean-eating fish and meat options. But, when it comes to pudding, the obvious choice is the apple tart (which is set on fire in front of you), or the special Valentine’s sorbet covered in melted white chocolate. Yum.
Want to impress your date? Then a trip to the Savoy might just about do it. There’s a myriad of dining options hidden inside this iconic London establishment, but the most seductive of them all has to be the gold-gilded Beaufort Bar.
The walls are drenched in black, apart from three shining, golden alcoves at the far end of the room. Each one comes with a cosy golden sofa, perfect for reclining on and getting snuggly with your date.
Visually, the bar is a sight to behold. Look around and you’ll also see an Art Deco-style glass-backed bar, embellished ceiling and ornate columns (etched with gold - obviously) that sit out from the walls around the room. But it’s the whole experience that makes this place really special.
Priding itself on a world-renown reputation, the hotel’s staff are impeccably trained in the art of giving good service, which makes for a nice touch when you’re on a special date. Expect to be shown to your seat, enthusiastically talked through the menu and have the history of the hotel explained to you - revealing why the menu is broken into the three parts of music, magic and drama.
As for the fare, the cocktail and nibbles are second-to-none. We recommend trying Dreams, a mix of Grey Goose vodka, white flower, pineapple and Cristal champagne. Yes, it will cost you £90 - but it’s worth it.
Soho is alive with cool bars, but sometimes it can be hard to decide which ones are actually worth your time. An area so bustling with possibility becomes useless, when you don’t know where to go - especially as it often seems that the best places are hidden away.
Well welcome to stylish seafood restuarant HIX, but more accurately Mark’s Bar, which sits underneath it. Hidden from street view behind a large velvety curtain, and down some darkened stairs, this is the perfect place to chill with someone you fancy whether it’s first date or fifth.
The decor feels like a mix between prohibition New York and Churchill’s cigar parlour: all deep brown chesterfield sofas, dark wood and swirling red carpets interspersed with a neon sign and a pool table.
We recommend sitting at the sunken bar, or squirreling away on a sofa in a corner, and ordering something with whiskey. The bar has a joyous selection of the stuff, so ask the bartender what they recommend.
The Blind Pig
Strolling past an inconspicuous-looking door and casually revealing an effortlessly cool bar inside to your unassuming date is a sure-fire way to impress. The Blind Pig was made exactly for that.
Follow the dark corridor to a sleek flight of stairs and before you know it, you’ll find yourself in the second floor bar and about to consume some of the most experimental liquids that London has to offer. The mood of the space is sultry, with dimmed lighting and chocolaty tones covering the mainly wood and leather-lead interiors.
So far, so date-worthy. But its the imaginative menu that really makes this place stand out, and is a sure fire conversation starter if you’ve got first date nerves. Like a curated book of fairy tales, each page is beautifully illustrated with a different scene from a children’s story and features cocktails that are inspired by it, too.
From Winnie the Pooh’s Honey Pot with Bacardi Oro, mead, cider brandy, honey, orange blossom, honeycomb (and Piglet), to the BFG’s Dream Jar, with Hendricks Orbium, Midori, vanilla, citrus, cucumber and watermelon soda and Snozzcumber meringue foam, each page is a delight and each cocktail is delicious.
When it comes to effortlessly cool date venues, POLPO hits the nail on the head. The relaxed vibe, dimmed lighting and no-fuss furniture touches make each branch of this small string of restaurants feel like a cool little place only you know about.
The menu is based on a sharing plates concept, which enables you to get even closer to your dining partner, each dish influenced by Venice and its cuisine. Although the menu can differ depending on which restaurant you visit, our favourite spot is Soho, and the sautéed tiger prawns with chilli and garlic are a must-try.
Although the focus is mainly on the food here, the drinks menu is also a delight. Small but considered, it features twists on some classics and a range of tipples that will please those that like something with an edge. Campari appears in many of the cocktails, like the Americano with Campari, Cinzano Rosso 1757 and soda or the Negroni Sbagliato with POLPO Prosecco, Campari and Cinzano Rosso 1757.
Sitting on the edge of Covent Garden’s hustle and bustle is Margot, a charming Italian restaurant that serves up class and style as well as award-winning food.
A lovely place if you feel like going somewhere that feels a bit special, but without any pretentiousness, the dark blue leather booths and gold touches make putting on something smart worth it.
Margot has a brilliant selection of wines, so we suggest starting with a glass of champagne or asking your waiter what they would recommend. As for the food, there’s much to choose from. If antipasto is your thing, you’ll be delighted with the array of small plates on offer, heaped with different meats and cheeses. While the raw carpaccio, tartare, pasta dishes and mains are all excellent choices too.
We also recommend that you leave room for dessert. From glazed light chocolate mousse, wild berry marmalade, almond dacquoise, wild berry coulis and almond flakes to cocoa Éclair with caramel mousse, pistachio cream and pear ice cream, it’s not a course we think you’ll want to miss out on.
45 Jermyn St.
Nestled in one of the rare quiet streets in Saint James’s, the 45 Jermyn St. is the perfect refuge from the cold.
Sophisticated yet warm, the exquisite decor reminiscent of a classic Parisian brasserie, with a touch of London cool. For an extra cosy dinner atmosphere, make sure you book one of their red-leather booths.
When it comes to food, 45 Jermyn St. is definitely the place to go to impress your date. The new raw additions can teleport your tastebuds to Japan with a delicious tuna tataki or sail you back to Europe thanks to a mellow, fresh burrata drizzled in fragrant truffle oil. To warm up, a flambé of lobster linguine accompanied by a glass of your favourite white is a must.
To end the evening in sweetness, share a super-soft banana soufflé. The homemade peanut ice-cream melts next to the warmth of the dessert – an ecstatic end to a fabulous night.
OXO Tower Restaurant
If you are searching for the perfect romantic dinner spot in London, nothing beats an amazing view of the city.
Between the hustle and bustle of the busy London Bankside, the Oxo Tower Restaurant is a little oasis nestled (almost literally) on the city roofs.
The lively and cosy ambiance of the restaurant is the perfect setting for the delicious dishes created by Executive Head Chef Jeremy Bloor. Everything is always made from British seasonal produces, to ensure the quality and the taste are always sky high.
Call in advance to catch one of the window tables, from the 8th floor of the Oxo Tower, overlooking the themes and St. Paul’s cathedral. There is no better backdrop for your date than the city lights.
Images: Getty / Instagram