Best-of Guides London

London Restaurants for a Romantic Date

7 Restaurants
What makes a good restaurant for a date? Somewhere big and brash which makes a statement? Or somewhere quiet and local where you can really talk and get to know each other? For some it’s all about the atmosphere; for others, the food and wine. Style can be important if you want to judge your date’s aesthetic credentials and, for those with pre-date nerves, a good cocktail list and an understanding waiter can be key; while for those of us no longer in the first flush of youth, the only thing that really matters is the lighting…
Updated on 29 August 2023
Brasserie Zédel
20 Sherwood Street, Soho, W1F 7ED London
££ · French

If you want a little glamour but without a pit-of-the-stomach lurch when you get the bill, then Zédel is a great choice, as no one will be too much out of pocket if the most memorable things about the evening turn out to be the band and the choucroute. The walk downstairs only heightens the sense of expectation and the menu really offers something for everyone. Surely a good îles flottante will inspire love in any language?

99-101 Bermondsey Street, Southwark, SE1 3XB London
££ · Modern British

It’s a pub, not a restaurant, so no one is going to feel overwhelmed, intimidated or uncomfortable in these surroundings. At dinner the candlelight and general murmur of contentment create a warm and inclusive atmosphere, while the food is familiar, comforting and heartwarming. Just be sure to arrive by cab because nothing will spoil the mood quite like walking through the tunnel on Bermondsey Street.

18 Phipp Street, Shoreditch, EC2A 4NU London
£££ · Modern British

Nothing says intimacy quite like sharing plates – and nothing reveals character quite like a person’s willingness or reluctance to share their dinner. If your date seems to be thoroughly enjoying the plate of venison or monkfish yet is still prepared to hand over the rest of the dish, then you know you have a keeper. As Jane Austen said: “It isn't what we say or think that defines us, but what we do”.

Park Chinois
17 Berkeley Street, Mayfair, W1J 8EA London
££££ · Chinese

“Money cannot buy the fuel of love but is excellent kindling”, said W.H. Auden. Substitute ‘money’ for ‘glamour’ and you can’t go wrong with Park Chinois. 1930s Shanghai was the inspiration behind this beautiful restaurant, where thought and care clearly went into every detail of its stunning design. Live music and a mischievous downstairs club add to the electricity – and the ‘duck de Chine’ will get anyone in the mood for love. Just try not to think of your bank balance over dinner.

26 St. John Street, Clerkenwell, EC1M 4AY London
£££ · Traditional British

Bear with us on this one. A first date is not just about discovering whether there is chemistry – it’s also about finding out if you’re compatible. So, if you’re reading this article, one can justifiably assume you have more than a passing interest in food. Therefore, if your date takes one look at the menu here at St. JOHN and isn’t drooling at the prospect of ordering pig’s cheek, ox heart or rabbit, then you know this’ll end up as two dates in one: your first and your last.

The Barbary
16 Neal’s Yard, Bloomsbury, WC2H 9DP London
££ · North African

A counter restaurant can be a great option for the more diffident amongst us. If the prospect of trying to maintain eye contact for a couple of hours is anathema, then sitting side-by-side may be just the ticket. The Barbary is a cute little place, so you’ll still get that sense of intimacy, plus the food offers more than a hint of the exotic. If it’s going well, you can pop into Neal’s Yard Dairy afterwards and buy cheese together.

15-17 Blandford Street, Regent’s Park and Marylebone, W1U 3DG London
££ · Indian

Great food is sometimes about diving in and glorying in its gorgeousness, not keeping it at arm’s length. Order the utterly delicious Dorset Brown Crab here at Trishna and if you’re both happy to be furiously licking your lips and having shiny chins then perhaps you have found your soul mate. Nip round the corner afterwards to Daunt Books and start planning your holiday in the travel section.