Over the last year, we’ve missed plenty of celebratory meals out – for birthdays, anniversaries, graduations and the like. But we’ve also missed the chance just to step away from everyday life, as a couple, whether to take a short break from the family or simply spend some quality time together in a different environment.
Whatever your motivation, you should be able to find somewhere on this list of inspectors’ favourite romantic restaurants to tempt you to dust off your glad rags and head out to spend the evening together.
Little Social, Mayfair
This might be one of the smallest restaurants in Jason Atherton’s stable but it is certainly one of the most elegant. It sports a smart, stylish look, with on-trend copper, dark wood, and duck egg blue upholstery, and there’s also an elegant bar where you’ll find the cocktails readily flowing. The seasonal menu name-checks British regions and suppliers, and dishes are modern and creative.
Clos Maggiore, Strand and Covent Garden
This delightfully intimate operation comes with affable service and is one of the most romantic restaurants around. The conservatory has a retractable roof perfect for sunny days and the enchanting décor makes you feel as though you are in a forest. Seasonal, French-inspired dishes are joined by a wine list of great depth – and there’s good value to be had pre/post theatre.
Gidleigh Park, Chagford
Start with drinks on the terrace of this grand Edwardian house, where mother nature provides a stunning backdrop. It was one of the first ground-breaking country house restaurants and comes with three intimate dining rooms and discreet service. Produce from the kitchen garden is showcased in traditionally based dishes with subtle international flavours and modern overtones.
Paris House, Woburn
This stunning, white and black framed, mock-Tudor house was built in Paris before being reassembled in this idyllic parkland location. It sits in a picture-perfect spot in a deer park on the famous Woburn Estate – and you can watch the deer wander by, drink in your hand, from the terrace. Creative, complex dishes reflect the chef’s passion for Asian ingredients.
Hambleton Hall, Hambleton
Wonderfully remote and surrounded by stunning gardens, this beautiful Victorian manor house is furnished with antiques and heavy fabrics. Enjoy drinks in the bar or on the terrace before taking in superb views across Rutland Water from the formal dining room. Accomplished cooking marries together top seasonal ingredients in a ‘less is more’ approach and flavours are fresh and clearly defined.
Three Chimneys & The House Over-By, Colbost, Isle of Skye
Located on the magical Isle of Skye, this former crofter’s cottage sits in a stunning lochside location and has a rustic, intimate feel courtesy of characterful low beams and exposed stone walls. Modern Scottish dishes showcase regional ingredients, with local seafood a highlight. Complete your visit with a stay in one of the stylishly understated, split-level bedrooms and enjoy the view from the residents’ lounge.
With a stylish nature-inspired colour scheme and potted ferns dotted about the place, this intimate restaurant brings the outside in. It’s set on the ground floor of a 17C building – now ‘The Grove’ hotel – and is a spacious, opulent space. Elaborate, eye-catchingly presented dishes are full of natural flavours. The sitting room with open fires and squashy sofas is the perfect place to cosy up after dinner.
The flagship of Michael Deane’s mini-empire, Eipic has a plush, exclusive feel, which belies its city centre location. Both the entrance and the service are discreet, and the atmosphere is intimate and relaxed in equal measure. It’s all about tasting menus here, with local and foraged ingredients featuring in creative modern dishes with some original flavour combinations.
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND
Inis Meáin Restaurant & Suites, Inishmaan, Aran Islands
A wonderfully remote island is home to this futuristic stone building inspired by the surrounding landscape. With its peaceful setting, relaxed pace and stunning panoramic views, this really is a place to get away from it all. Satisfyingly straightforward, the modern cooking showcases island ingredients, with seafood caught in currachs and urchins gathered by hand.
Sha-Roe Bistro, Clonegall
This welcoming 17C former coaching inn sits in a picturesque village. It’s a simple place with a relaxed, intimate feel and personalised service – and the tables are candlelit in the evening, creating a lovely atmosphere. Local and farmers’ market ingredients feature in unfussy, classically based dishes.