Woo Your Beau: Bars & Restaurants To Get You Loved Up & in the Mood

From fine-dining and extravagant affairs, to the understated and casually chic, here’s The Resident’s guide to date night bars and restaurants in London…

Photo: Turnips

1 Hakkasan, Fitzrovia A sultry, lower-ground level restaurant rich in colours, texture and ambience, which still manages to be affable and cheery, Hakkasan is a date night option for those who would like their date to know they are trying. The Michelin-starred Cantonese restaurant can deliver a feast to your table  – from an array of vegan and meaty dumplings and dim sum full of flavours and textures to sharing plates of much-loved dishes – Peking duck, slow roasted Ibericao pork char siu and salt and pepper squid for example. Have a drink at the bar to soak up the atmosphere and make sure it’s a smoking cocktail –  just for the drama of it all. There’s another venue in Mayfair too. Address: Hanway Place, W1T 1HD
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Thursday 5pm-10:30pm; Friday 5pm-11:30pm; Saturday 12pm-11:30pm, Sunday 12pm-10:30pm

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2 LPM Restaurant & Bar, Mayfair
A convivial spot on a corner behind billowy curtains, LPM Restaurant and Bar is fine-dining but not stuffy – ideal if you want to impress someone in an effortlessly stylish way. The closely-packed, bustling restaurant plates up the taste of a southern French holiday- whole roasted artichokes drizzled in a lemon vinaigrette, escargots drowned in pools of garlicky herby butter and smoky grilled lamb cutlets for example. The menu has small plates and mains which are designed to be shared and the indulgent desserts come in sizable proportions too – the creme brulee has heft.
Address: 53-54 Brook’s Mews, W1K 4EG
Opening Hours: Wednesday 6pm-10.30pm; Thursday to Saturday 12pm-2.30pm, 6pm-10.30pm; Sunday 12pm-3.30pm

3 Turnips, Borough Market
Fine-dining Turnips with Tomas Lidakevicius is an elegantly down-to-earth affair set in the back of a greengrocers. It’s perfect for meat eaters and herbivores alike, and for when you want to treat someone special to something special. Chef patron Lidakevicius (ex-City Social) has designed a small plates menu along with several tasting menus where fresh fruit and veg sings. Through culinary wizardry greens and root vegetables transform into imaginative dishes full of flavours and textures. Get stuck into the likes of creamy celeriac in a puddle of parmesan-rich sauce; a roll of hispi cabbage drizzled in a tangy coconut broth; straps of rhubarb leather with white chocolate mousse and crumbled pistachio; and a couple of glasses of new and old world wines. All this in the back of one of Borough Market’s long standing vegetable shops, under the arches and warmed up with heaters and blankets for winter.
Address: 43 Borough Market SE1 9AH
Opening Hours: Wednesday to Saturday; lunch 12pm-3pm; dinner 6pm-11.30pm

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4 Legare, Bermondsey
A stone’s throw from Tower Bridge and along Shad Thames’ cobbled street, Jay Patel (former Barrafina GM) and head chef Matt Beardmore (ex-Trullo) helm this compact, clean-lined restaurant, which is would hit the spot for a casually cool date with killers views of Tower Bridge on the way home. Understatedly stylish, Legare comes with a compact yet a considered menu to match. The restaurant plates up unfussy Italian dishes done well– whole grilled sardines smothered in spicy nduja and a mess of burrata along side a salad of grilled nectarines and mixed beans mopped up with olive oil-heavy focaccia. Pasta is made daily and by hand – there’s the ricotta cappellacci (a kind of tortellini) rolled in brown butter with shards of crispy-fried sage and a smattering of pine nuts, or the spaghetti alla chitarra – a knot of al dente pasta, clams, chilli and garlic.
Address: Cardamom Building, 31G Shad Thames, SE1 2YR
Opening Hours: Tuesday 2pm-10pm; Wednesday to Saturday 12pm-3pm, 6pm-10pm 

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5 The Water House Project, Bethnal Green
This one is good for those who want to eat at a high-end restaurant, but don’t want to take their trainers off, and a perfect option for an anniversary or special occasion meal. The laid back fine-dining supper club by Gabriel Waterhouse serves up a set nine-course meal (£120pp) Wednesday to Saturday paired with wine, or house-made alcohol-free infusions in a scandi-esque restaurant housed in one of London Field’s old warehouses. Seasonal dishes are immaculate presented and meticulously put together, their paired back presentation belies the effort gone into creating the flavour laden emulsions, creams and concoctions.
Address: 1 Corbridge Crescent, E2 9D
Opening Hours: Wednesday-Saturday, 7pm seating

6 Paradise, Soho
Contemporary Sri Lankan restaurant Paradise serves up fiery dishes that draw on the family recopies of owner Dominic Fernando, as well as Portuguese, Malay, South Indian and Dutch influences. Enveloped in the brutalist, utilitarian interiors, share dishes such as southern-style stir-fried kangkun, Cornish sprout tops, rhubarb and kooni, chilli; roasted Violino pumpkin and mustard curry, raw quince and coconut pol sambol; and smoked chicken and ambarella curry. It’s also a great choice for a first date option, if you really want to impress but not terrify the person across the table from you.
Address: 61 Rupert Street, W1D 7PW
Opening Hours:

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7 The Mulwray, Soho
Natural wine is not for everyone, but if it is for you, then The Mulwray, a dark cosy den up the stairs off an alley in Chinatown is for you also. Polished, yet laid back and friendly, there’s a wall of wine to try, and a sommelier on hand to guide you through the extensive choice. Go here, if the date is going well and you want to step it up with a change of scenery.
Address: First Floor, The Blue Posts, 28 Rupert Street, W1D 6DJ
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Wednesday 5.30pm-10.30pm, Thursday 5.30pm-11pm, Friday to Saturday 5pm-12am

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8 The Barbary Next Door, Covent Garden
In the bustling Neal’s yard courtyard, this neighbourhood wine bar and restaurant is the little sister to The Barbary, also in Neal’s Yard. It’s an intimate space with mood lighting and a candlelit bar; you’ve got all the ingredients you need for a top date spot whether its a new romance or old. The menu is inspired by the fragrant spices and smokey flavours of Moorish Spain and North African cooking, and the wine list focuses on drops from Spain, France and Morocco.
Open: Wednesday to Friday 5pm-10pm; Saturday 9am-10pm 
Address: 16A Neal’s Yard, WC2H 9DP

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9 Bar Crispin, Soho
It may be small, but if you can squeeze in you should for spattering of sharing plates along with several glasses of natural wine for a date that is casual enough, but a little bit hip. The younger sister to Crispin in Spitalfields, the Soho bar carries through the same ethos as the Shoreditch venue; Head Chef Brendan Lee’s small plate menu uses locally sourced ingredients and independent producers and includes dishes such as anchovy and potato focaccia with salsa verde and black garlic ice-cream and dark chocolate tuile. For the wines, general manager and sommelier Alexandra Price (ex Annabel’s and Beaverbrook) has curated a selection of more than 150 drops for you to try.
Address: 19 Kingly Street, Soho, W1B 5PY
Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday, 8am-11pm; Sunday 1pm-6pm

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10 The Petersham, Covent Garden
Elegant and botanical, The Petersham restaurant is set within a secluded floral courtyard near King and Floral Street, and another top option for a date served with a side of extra. With understated grandeur and a seasonally changing display of flowers, the restaurant brims with wild natural beauty. As you can imagine, the kitchen prepares dishes with top seasonal produce, and with Italian flavours too. For Valentines, the restaurant is hosting a six-course tasting menu (£100pp) with live jazz and optional wine pairing. There’s also the Petersham Nurseries Cafe in Richmond too which celebrates nature with arguably more amounts of ethereal charm.
Address: Petersham Nurseries, Floral Court, WC2E 8JD
Opening Hours :Tuesday to Wednesday lunch & dinner; Thursday to Saturday lunch, afternoon tea & dinner

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