Looking for cute date ideas? Trying to find romantic things to do in London? Celebrating a special occasion with a fellow food lover? Sometimes sitting opposite someone, that you’ve potentially just met, for a three-course meal is a bit too intense, so we’ve collected some fun date night ideas together for you, to make life that little bit easier. (If you do want to opt for this then check out our pick of the most romantic restaurants in London here).
We have every date scenario covered with our London date ideas: try safari dates where you pick up snacks and drinks at various locations (maybe you’ll start in London and end up in Paris); combine your mutual love of food and drink with live music or cinema; or dive into one of our suggested interactive foodie experiences (what could be better than making chocolate brownies together?). We’ve even included ideas for what to do nearby after all that food and drink.
Read on to find out more of the best foodie dates in London…
Food and culture dates in London
Tate Modern exhibition and lunch at Level 9 Cafe
Take in the exhibitions at Tate Modern and then head up to the light and bright Level 9 Cafe for an arty lunch. Head chef Jon Atashroo peppers his menu with influences from the exhibitions in the gallery – past menus have included an ode to Picasso, featuring his favourite dish of all time, tortilla with aioli (according to his interview with Vogue in 1964).
This contemporary restaurant is a great spot to enjoy British ingredients with a view of the capital all year round – think salted yellow butter to bright and citrusy English sparkling wine made by Coates and Seely in Hampshire, heritage tomato salad to cornfed chicken with smoked sweetcorn purée and peppers.
Super soft grilled cod is a highlight, served on a bed of tiny brown shrimps and chopped broccoli, with a sweet caramelised shallot on the side. Sip on a punchy barrel-aged negroni and soak up the panoramic views – play spot the landmark with St Paul’s, The Shard and London Bridge.
Last Supper in Pompeii at Dinner by Heston
History buffs should make the most of a new set menu at the double-Michelin-starred Dinner by Heston that takes inspiration from a recent exhibition at The Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, Taste History – Last Supper in Pompeii. Available until 31 March (2020), the menu takes you on a journey exploring a modern, Heston interpretation of the Roman flavours and dishes from that time (79AD). Expect the likes of a carbonised loaf with black butter, in a nod to the preserved loaves discovered still in their bread ovens; pickled mussels to celebrate the Pompeiian love of seafood, often depicted in art from that period; and Roman favourites, duck and turnip, finished with fig vinegar and spice and served with civero, a rich stew of confit duck leg and offal. Staff will talk you through each dish, and offer wine pairings, too, including Campanian whites.
Saturday brunch film club at Covent Garden Hotel
Treat your date to a day-date at this smart hotel that has the perfect balance between elegant and whacky. On Saturdays, Covent Garden Hotel puts on a lavish brunch in the breakfast room. Peruse the breakfast table groaning with Kitt Kemp’s hand-designed bowls full of fruits, cereals, compotes and yogurts.
Laden your plate with pastries and homemade breakfast bars and fill your glass with the juice of the day (think freshly squeezed orange juice with a hint of fresh mint) before taking a glass of champagne or a Bloody Mary and a bucket of homemade popcorn (you can make your own gourmet popcorn here) down to the tiny cinema in the basement for the film of the day. Talk about a fun date idea! £40,
Bar Termini and Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club
This Old Compton Street bar is an idealised Italian coffee and aperitivo bar, as one might have been (had it been ludicrously perfect) in the 1950s – a mahogany bar, huge coffee machine, and pale turquoise high banquets to lounge into with your date. The concise cocktail menu, developed by cocktail maestro Tony Conigliaro, specialises in negronis (pink peppercorn-infused negroni superior, rose petal infused rosato and intense robusto with a subtley sweet finish).
Sip on these pre-bottled negronis from elegant bespoke glassware before hopping over to Ronnie Scott’s for the next round. There’s live music at 9pm every night in the upstairs den, where you can wander over to the bar and order an Old Fashioned while listening to jazz and blues in a true speakeasy environment.
Tate Britain exhibition and lunch at Rex Whistler
Hop along to Tate Britain to take a the works of one of some of the greatest the artists, then carry on your art analysis at the museum restaurant, Rex Whistler. A mural painted in 1927 wraps the room, depicting a group on an expedition in search of exotic meats, providing a fun talking point for your meal.
Past menus have included a tribute to David Hockney’s Yorkshire origins with Swaledale lamb from the Yorkshire Dales and Yorkshire rhubarb Eton mess desserts.
The wine list is outstanding, with sought-after bottles, unique finds and an impressive selection of half bottles. Don’t be overwhelmed if you aren’t a wine buff, as enthusiastic and knowledgable sommelier Montserrat Fabregas recommends and pairs according to your tastes and your menu choices.
Whether sat out on the terrace under parasols, or cocooned by the mural inside, Rex Whistler is a great way to make a cultural date that bit more memorable.
Blow out date ideas in London
Cocktails at the classic American Bar
American Bar at The Savoy won best bar in the world at World’s 50 Best Bars awards in 2017. This legendary bar opened in 1903, so has plenty of history to soak up. Tell your date about how Frank Sinatra used to come in, sit on the piano, sing a song and shout “get ’em up Joe”, signalling to the head bartender to fix up his martini.
Cocktails are classically innovative, and the Coast To Coast menu is influenced by various regions of England, starting down south with long and fresh cocktails inspired by Kent ‘the garden of England’, working its way up past elegant, Champagne-led London cocktails and flavours of the forest from mythical Sherwood Forest, up to the Pennines and Edinburgh’s stiff scotch drinks.
We are chatting to bar manager Declan on our podcast, listen up to find out more about the menu…
Tasting menu at Frog by Adam Handling
Five-course menus at this elegant restaurant in Covent Garden start with a succession of stunning, theatrical snacks (razor clams are served on dry ice) prepared in the large open kitchen. Starters may by kingfish ceviche and salt-baked celeriac with sous-vide eggs, before mains of crisp-skinned roast halibut and pink ibérico pork with pork belly croquettes, and posh puds such as velvety chocolate mousse with creamy almond ice cream.
Pair you dinner with matching cocktails. Mixologists conjure up pre-bottled cocktails to match each course, with separate spritzes from aromatisers to bring out the desired flavour of each dish.
Descend into Adam Handling’s seductive cocktail lair, Eve, for digestifs.
Atmospheric date spots in London
Toasties and wine at Sager and Wilde
Sager + Wilde’s original Hackney Road bar is a romantic, candle-lit neighbourhood spot to enjoy unusual wines with your date. Huddle around a table on little stools and wooden benches, or sit up at the industrial iron grate bar to get a closer look at the rare bottles displayed in the rack along the back wall.
The small but thoughtful wine menu covers lesser-known regions such as Austria, unusual orange wines and twists on classics procured by owners Charlotte and Michael Sager-Wilde. Golden jalapeño and cheddar toasties are served on E5 Bakehouse sourdough and round off the evening perfectly.
Inside a Georgian townhouse, just behind Oxford Street, lies a secret drinking den that exuberates the eccentric charm of the Zetter Townhouse’s ficticous owner, wicked Uncle Seymour. Seymour’s Parlour is more front room of curiosities than hotel bar: trinkets clutter a cabinet that spans one side of the room, portraits adorn the wine-red walls and crystal decanters filled with bright orange liquid dress up antique wooden tables.
Interactive foodie date ideas in London
Paul A Young brownie making
These might just be the best brownies in the world, so the opportunity to learn insider tips as to how to make them on the marble surfaces of the chocolatier’s workshop is such a treat. You can make two trays of brownies each, so plenty of room for experimenting with toppings – sea salted caramel and pretzels, nutmeg and golden sugar, or even chipotle chilli flakes.
While your brownies are baking, head upstairs to the chocolatier’s emporium for a tutored tasting of chocolate and truffles – caramelised milk chocolate (reminiscent of a posh Caramac!), acidic and fruity 64% Madagascan and 72% nutty and smooth Venezuelan. Then choose from Paul A Young’s exotic and out-there selection of handmade chocolates and truffles – from Marmite or stout to more traditional sea salted caramel.
Pizza for two at Bread Ahead
If a trip to Italy isn’t possible then why not bring Italy to London with a pizza for two course at Bread Ahead? On the three-hour course at Borough Market you’ll learn how to make your pizzas from scratch before eating it together under dimmed lights. It’s BYOB, so grab a bottle of red on the way and make a night of it. Afterwards why not try and squeeze in a plate of cacio e pepe at Padella, or wonder over to Flat Iron Square for a drink at the under-the-arch bar. Here are our favourite London Bridge restaurants to check out…
Food and nature dates in London
Richmond and Petersham Nurseries
From Richmond station, pass the green (detour down tiny Brewers Lane for a gelato from Gelateria Danieli) and walk along the river to Petersham Nurseries. Wander through the enchanted greenhouses full to bursting with potted plants, fruit and olive trees and up-cycled garden furniture. Get in line at the garden shed and slide a tray past homemade cakes and bakes, salads and daily specials such as creamy chicken pie with a golden puff pastry topping. Take your treats and perch on garden furniture in the pretty greenhouses.
Foodie safari dates in London
Maltby Street Ropewalk Market bar crawl
Bermondsey’s railway arches play host to foodie hub Ropewalk Market, also known as Maltby Street Market. Hop between the arches on a bar crawl in rough-around-the edges locations littered with antiques.
Here’s a fun date night idea: start at 40 Maltby Street for wines from small-scale producers in lesser-known regions such as Slovenia, then continue to Bar Tozino for Spanish wine and some expertly carved Iberico ham. Switch to gin at Little Bird Gin for cocktails in the converted workshop that now oozes vintage glamour. Continue on your gin quest to Jensen’s tiny distillery and pick up a bottle (try out one of our gin cocktails at home later), not forgetting to stock up on a couple of pale ales, porters and stouts from Kernel Brewery.
Fuel your charming bar crawl with snacks from the traders along Maltby Street – indulgent doughnuts from St John’s bakery, a couple of oysters from Bagleys cart and Waffle On’s creative waffle recipes.
Pop Brixton is a foodies’ playground – clamber up stairs to pick up Venezuelan arepas from Petare and ogle the grilled cheese at Raclette Brothers, head under an arch strung with fairy lights to find regional Italian street food from Don Luigi, or ascend the ramp to a greenhouse-like tunnel and pop out the other side to intimate seasonal British restaurant Smoke & Salt.
You can eat and drink across the globe – Sicilian small plates at Franzina Trattoria, air-dried char sit pork belly and Chinese prawn toast at Duck Duck Goose, gyozas from Koi Ramen. Finish with Spanish Love Churros or a sweet crepe or waffle from L’Amuse Bouche. New Zealand Wine Cellar specialises in, as the name suggests, New Zealand wines. The kiwi-run business ensures that the country’s lesser-known producers are given the limelight. Peruse the neatly packed shelves before sitting round a barrel to sip on the likes of Black Estate Riesling, No 1 Family Estate Sparkling Marlborough or Rachel Pinot Noir from Seresin Estate in Marlborough.
Paris day trip on the Eurostar
Hop off the Eurostar and walk 10 minutes to elegant neighbourhood bistro, Les Enfants Perdus. Sink into squishy white cushions in the bistro’s conservatory room and enjoy a 3-course brunch. Platters of classic goat’s cheese salad, perhaps, or olive and cheese muffins, eggs cocotte, tiny parcels of cheese, herb-filled pasta and thinly sliced duck breast. Mini viennoiseries, generous baskets of fresh bread and condiments, fruit juice and the house hot chocolate fill any gaps left.
Mooch along the canal to Rue de la Grange aux Belles and pop into Bleuet Coquelicot, a teeny convent-turned-florist where greenery, flowers and tropical plants have colonised the building’s 17th-century tiling and murals. Continue two doors down, to the trendy Ten Belles coffee shop, and perch on one of the funky painted wooden stools that pepper the pavement outside this narrow, open-fronted café. Enjoy excellent Guatemalan and Honduran coffee, blended at Paris coffee star Thomas Lehoux’s roastery, Brulerie Belleville, with a savoury cheese and chorizo bun before a brisk fifteen minute walk back to the Eurostar. We have a map of fab places to drink in Paris while you’re there, check it out.
Bargain date ideas
Sketch afternoon tea
Psssst… you can enjoy Sketch’s weird and wonderful interiors for a mere £10.50. Take tea and scones with cream and jam in The Parlour or The Glade. You still get all of Sketch’s glamour (and those mooing egg-shaped loos!) for a fraction of the price of full afternoon tea. If you want to go all out, book in to the whacky Gallery to lavish in pink velvet for full afternoon tea, complete with mini toasties wrapped in yellow ribbon and pretty little cakes of all flavours.
Wright Bros £1 oysters and No.16 Hotel, South Kensington
Between 3 and 6pm every day, seafood institution, Wright Bros, has oyster happy hour – as many oysters as you want for £1 each. We recommend heading to the understated old-school glamour of the atmospheric South Kensington branch. To continue the evening, hop over to No.16 hotel, a pristinely manicured mid-Victorian white townhouse that provides a secret city hideaway with Kitt Kemp’s plush, bold interiors.
If it’s a nice day, make the most of No.16’s hidden garden oasis and enjoy a glass of wine perched on pale green garden furniture under elegant white parasols. If you’re lucky enough to bag the tiny gazebo, you can look back on the garden, complete with stone fountain bubbling away in the rectangular fish pond. Read our review of afternoon tea at No.16 here.
Dominique Ansel Bakery
Treat your date to one of the most talked about foodie trends there’s ever been, the Cronut. Dominique Ansel, the man behind the Cronut, has a bakery in Belgravia, where you can try this indulgent hybrid between a croissant and a donut.
If you fancy something a bit more delicate, order a batch of baked-to-order madeleines to share in the pretty café (bag a spot in the pretty garden if the weather’s good). The blossoming hot chocolate is also pretty special, topped with a marshmallow flower that blooms on top of the cup. If your date’s successful, you can return in many years to come and propose with it, as someone did a couple of years ago!
Yard Sale’s three cosy restaurants dotted across North East London make it an ideal place to enjoy a low-key date this year. Grab a leather booth seat close to the kitchens for the comfiest spot.
Order an 18-inch pizza to share topped with garlic roasted aubergines, parmesan crumbs and fresh basil and heat things up with a fiery chilli oil dip. Get a carafe of wine (all from Borough Wines), too for a chilled evening. Napkins are necessary and the pizza eating gets messy, so maybe not one for the first date!