The 17 most romantic restaurants in London

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  • The 17 most romantic restaurants in London

    1. Kudu, Peckham

    Best for: sexy South African-inspired small plates

    The teal velvet banquettes here are inviting, but for a high-octane supper get ringside seats at the kitchen counter, where you can watch South African chef Patrick Williams working his magic on braai, or barbecue, onion squash and scorched steak tartare. Much of the menu is made to be shared: start with the Kudu bread with melted seafood butter for dunking, before moving onto blush-pink onglet, enoki mushrooms and potato mousse for two and salted-chocolate ganache with sesame ice cream (plus two spoons). For those who don’t want the evening to end, Smokey Kudu, the restaurant’s vibrant new cocktail bar, is just down the road, under the arches by Queens Road station. By Emma Hughes


    Address: Kudu, 119 Queens Road, London SE15 2EZ


    Telephone: +44 20 3950 0226


    Website: kuducollective.com

  • The 17 most romantic restaurants in London

    2. Flor, Borough Market

    Best for: impressing a foodie

    If your other half knows the list of London’s best restaurants inside out, there’s nowhere better to take them than one of the most hyped new openings, which has now settled comfortably into its Borough Market berth. An all-star collaboration between Lyle’s James Lowe, John Ogier and Anna Higham, Flor consistently turns out plates that surprise and delight over two gorgeous floors. What to order: the much-photographed prawns, of course; the mussel flatbread with Spenwood cheese and vin jaune; the smoked eel; the dinky brown butter cakes and… Well, you get the idea. Book right now if you haven’t already – it gets very busy. By Emma Hughes


    Address: Flor, 1 Bedale Street, London SE1 9AL


    Telephone: +44 20 3319 8144


    Website: florlondon.com

  • The 17 most romantic restaurants in London

    3. Darby’s, Vauxhall

    Best for: romance around the clock

    Want to shake things up? Instead of booking a romantic supper, do lunch. Or brunch. Or even (whisper it) breakfast. Whichever you go for, Nine Elms’s new arrival Darby’s has you covered. Robin Gill’s swish all-day restaurant-and-bakery next to the American Embassy is broadly Irish-American with respectful nods to Europe: truffle arancini; Cornish lobster brioche; Jersey milk ricotta agnolotti; Galloway beef steaks from the grill; and gildas lollipops made with smoked eel instead of the usual anchovy. Oyster fans, opt for an early slot: you can get six of them and a pint of Guinness for £10 between 5pm and 7pm. By Emma Hughes


    Address: Darby’s, 3 Viaduct Gardens, Nine Elms, London SW11 7AY


    Telephone: +44 20 7537 3111


    Website: darbys-london.com

  • The 17 most romantic restaurants in London

    4. Wilder, Shoreditch

    Best for: faultless food and low lighting

    Foraged ingredients served in a minimalist Shoreditch basement – bit of a passion-killer, right? Actually, no. Wilder is hands down one of the most romantic places in the city to eat right now: the kitchen beneath Sir Terence Conran’s Boundary hotel serves up exquisite plates of food that are much more interesting and satisfying than their string-of-nouns menu descriptions suggest. Witness the beremeal bread with cultured butter, which sounds hair-shirted but is actually begging to be greedily torn into, or the baked apple with soured cream, lemon thyme and oats – that rare thing, a dessert which has actually been improved by its deconstruction. Plus it’s sexily low-lit, and the elderflower-dressed oysters are some of London’s best. By Emma Hughes


    Address: Wilder, 2-4 Boundary Street, Redchurch Street, London E2 7DD


    Telephone: +44 20 7729 1051


    Website: wilderlondon.co.uk

  • The 17 most romantic restaurants in London

    5. Hutong, London Bridge

    Best for: killer views and chilli heat

    It’s a tourist trap for a reason: the views from The Shard never fail to make the heart soar, especially after dark. Happily, the food at Hutong has the same effect – skip the so-so bistro fare at Aqua Shard below and head up to floor 33 for northern Chinese dishes served with a flourish (and plenty of top-notch Champagne) in opulent surroundings. The dim-sum selection, including XO sauce crystal-prawn dumplings and scallop wontons, is magnificent, while Sichuan-style deep-fried lobster with chilli, black beans and crisp slivers of garlic is worth dialling down the romance to focus on. Every table has a view, but it’s worth putting in a request for one right by the glass when you book. By Emma Hughes


    Address: Hutong, The Shard, 31 St Thomas Street, London SE1 9RY


    Telephone: +44 20 3011 1257


    Website: hutong.co.uk

  • The 17 most romantic restaurants in London

    6. Quo Vadis, Soho

    Best for: sauciness in central London

    When it comes to romantic restaurants in London, the grande dame of Dean Street ticks all the boxes. Candles? Check. Cosy corners? Check. Swish staff, a cosmopolitan crowd and a general air of anything-goes? Check, check, check. Cocktails are strong here, and set the tone nicely for what’s to come – kick things off with a QV Boulevardier, with Hudson Baby bourbon, Martini Rubino and Campari. When it’s time for supper, head chef Jeremy Lee, a Soho restaurant institution himself, has a knack for writing menus that stay just the right side of wicked: oysters; poached chicken with leeks, aioli and a side of rich mashed potato; sticky-toffee pudding with custard and cream. By Emma Hughes


    Address: Quo Vadis, 26-29 Dean Street, London W1D 3LL


    Telephone: +44 20 7437 9585


    Website: quovadissoho.co.uk

  • The 17 most romantic restaurants in London

    7. Jikoni, Marylebone

    Best for: a romantic retreat

    Is this central London’s most beautiful restaurant? Very possibly. And Jikoni – which means kitchen in Swahili – matches its good looks with food that’s cooked with imagination, thoughtfulness and, more than anything, love. Ask for the corner table, with its nest of cushions, and order the prawn-toast scotch eggs while perusing a menu that dances affectionately around Asia, the Middle East, east Africa and the UK. Roasted scallops are paired with congee rice porridge and warming Szechuan chilli oil, while kuku paka, a Kenyan chicken curry rich with coconut milk, arrives with perfect saffron rice. The rhubarb, pink peppercorn and rose Bellinis, meanwhile, have Valentine’s Day written all over them. By Emma Hughes


    Address: Jikoni, 19-21 Blandford Street, London W1U 3DG


    Telephone: +44 20 7034 1988


    Website: jikonilondon.com

  • The 17 most romantic restaurants in London

    8. Bibendum, South Kensington

    Best for: Shopping and shucking in South Ken

    There’s the famous stained-glass windows, depicting the Michelin man smoking a cigar while riding a bicycle – look no hands! – and the white-clad tables, floating like swans on a carpet of Ullswater blue. The building itself is an Art Deco palace seemingly conjured by genie in South Kensington, with a florist handily outside and oyster bar just inside. You could just sidle into the bar for lobster mayonnaise or moules frites. But under chef Claude Bosi, the actual restaurant menu is more fun than it’s ever been. Little olive trees arrive, bearing bursts of olive tapenade, and cornettos of foie gras. As for signature dishes, tripe and cuttlefish gratin aren’t words you hear very often on a romantic dinner, so start the habit here. And then cycle home together puffing on a cigar. Rick Jordan

    Address: Bibendum, Michelin House, 81 Fulham Road, London SW3 6RD


    Telephone: +44 20 7589 1480


    Website: bibendum.co.uk

  • 9. Bob Bob Ricard, Soho

    Best for: For devilishly decadent Deco date nights

    With its famous ‘Press for Champagne’ button and a Russian-inspired menu that starts with sub-zero shots of vodka, you’ll party like an oligarch at Bob Bob Ricard. Electric-blue booths, marbled walls, Art Deco detailing, mirrored ceilings and a shiny gold bar are the hallmarks of a classic David Collins design that whisks you miles away from the everyday. Anglo-Russian dishes range from beef Wellington (for two) to classic pelmeni dumplings, on a menu that’s bursting with luxe ingredients. Caviar, truffles, lobster oysters… You did press for that champagne, right?

    Address: Bob Bob Ricard, 1 Upper James Street, Soho, London W1


    Telephone: +44 20 3145 1000


    Website: bobbobricard.com

  • The 17 most romantic restaurants in London

    10. Frenchie, Covent Garden

    Best for: Paris meets New York in London

    ‘A Parisian in New York’ is the name of the signature cocktail here, and it sums up the place perfectly. With its multitude of dangling pendant lights, ]solo seats at the Twenties-style bar and generally discreet use of space (bottles of water are stored in the girder-like pillars; sliding doors and clever high shelving make the most of the Covent Garden restaurant space), Frenchie is at once wonderfully Gallic and chic, but also Manhattanite cool and urban. The banquette seating allows knees to casually knock under the table, every excellent waiter and waitress has a thick French accent and the food and drink itself is so fine you’re both likely to leave the restaurant in a very good mood indeed. Begin with the so-great-it’s-actually-shocking sweet bacon scones to set proceedings off to the best possible start. Follow with the surprisingly sexy brussels sprouts tempura (trust us), then the duck breast risotto and finally the Paris brest for pudding, a traditional French sweet shaped like a wheel in ode to the Paris–Brest–Paris cycling race (a gambit you can toss into conversation to impress – on us). Becky Lucas

  • The 17 most romantic restaurants in London

    11. Galvin La Chapelle, Spitalfields

    Best for: Michelin-star dining in a striking, repurposed chapel

    Walk down the aisle without walking down the aisle at Galvin La Chapelle, where classic French food is served under the gabled roof of a former chapel. The lofty space has been modernised with touches of glass, metal and leather, while sprinklings of low-lit bulbs and foliage keep things pretty. Tuck into dishes that feel like a real treat, such as hand-dived scallops with caviar and pigeon with confit lemon and soak up the striking surroundings. This is one of the few places in London where you can dress up without feeling over-dressed. Olivia Holborow

    Address: Galvin, La Chapelle, 35 Spital Square, London E1 6DY


    Telephone: +44 20 7299 0400


    Website: galvinrestaurants.com

  • The 17 most romantic restaurants in London

    12. Clos Maggiore, Covent Garden

    Best for: Dreamy romance with French savoir faire in Covent Garden

    Is this the most romantic restaurant in London? It’s simply impossible not to be seduced by Clos Maggiore’s gorgeous courtyard conservatory, where you’ll eat, drink and make eyes over the candles below a shimmering canopy of white blossom and twinkling fairy lights, an open fire crackling in the stone fireplace. Even if you don’t bag a table out here, there are plenty of cosy nooks in the main room of the restaurant for an intimate dinner à deux. Meanwhile, the French menu is a culinary work of art: beautiful plates of food that blend contemporary flavours with just the right amount of indulgence. Silky-smooth service only adds to the appeal of this timeless classic.

    Address: Clos Maggiore, 33 King Street, Covent Garden, London WC2


    Telephone: +44 20 7379 9696


    Website: closmaggiore.com

  • The 17 most romantic restaurants in London

    13. Ducksoup, Soho

    Best for: a no-fuss wine bar

    Ducksoup is simplicity at its best. With mismatched bottles covering the white-washed walls, a few rickety tables and dangling globular lights, the 2011 Soho restaurant mixes Scandinavian design with the warmth of an Italian restaurant. The wine list is impeccable and experimental, as is the weekly changing menu of small sharing plates. It can get noisy as the night goes on but book a table on the earlier side, listen to whichever vinyl is spinning, grab a drink at the bar or post up at an oil-lit table to taste what the kitchen is cooking up that day. It could be the braised beef shin with farro and capers or the fresh fettuccini with winter cavolo nero and bright orange egg yolk. It’s a great spot to know about – whether for a first date, or a tenth. By Katharine Sohn

    Address: Ducksoup, 41 Dean Street, Soho, London W1D 4PY


    Telephone: +44 20 7287 4599


    Website: ducksoupsoho.co.uk

  • The 17 most romantic restaurants in London

    14. Kitty Fishers, London

    A cosy Mayfair corner serving some of the best food in London

    Draw back the velvet curtain to reveal cute wooden tables for two with wild-flower posies in glass jars. There are no pretensions at this Shepherd Market restaurant – the atmosphere is relaxed and fun. Which is wonderful, given that the menu by George Barson is brilliant. To start, share plates of large roasted almonds, mini Welsh rarebits and rich ham croquettes. The rest of the dishes aren’t for sharing, but are hearty and refined: Devon beef fillet served with onions and ale; Iberico pork presa with golden, crispy potatoes on the side. And while this spot isn’t a perfect choice for vegetarians, sides such as the broccoli with smoked yogurt and hispi cabbage with mustard seeds will certainly satisfy most. By Tabitha Joyce

    Address: Kitty Fisher’s, 10 Shepherd Market, London W1J 7QF


    Telephone: +44 20 3302 1661


    Website: kittyfishers.com

  • The 17 most romantic restaurants in London

    15. Spring, the Strand

    Best for: Fresh feminine charm at Somerset House

    Skye Gyngell won a Michelin star at Petersham Nurseries, and these days her talents are shining brightly at historic Somerset House (as well as at Heckfield Place in Hampshire). An imposing wing of the Grade II-listed embankment building has been transformed into an airy, elegant dining room, framed by white columns and with a leafy covered courtyard, too. There’s more to Spring than charm and good looks though. Love is present in every single dish, where Skye shows off impeccably sourced British produce including seasonal heritage veg. Fall for dishes like fresh tuna tartare with chilli and smoked crème fraîche or juicy lamb cutlets with celeriac and black garlic butter.

    Address: Spring, Somerset House, Lancaster Place, London WC2


    Telephone: +44 20 3011 0115


    Website: springrestaurant.co.uk

  • The 17 most romantic restaurants in London

    16. Le Caprice, St James’s

    Best for: A London classic that’s still getting it right

    Le Caprice has to be one of the most romantic spots in London, because whether you are tucked away in a corner, or sitting up at the bar, you are always made to feel special. Jesus Adorno, the maître d’, greets everyone as a long-lost friend. Delicious plates of dressed Dorset crab and Thai-baked seabass have been dished up since the dawn of time, but requests to the chef for a much-revered, off-menu peanutty bang-bang chicken salad don’t raise an eyebrow either. And there is something about the old-school charm of the place, the starched tablecloths, the perfectly pitched classic cocktails list and the glasses of Champagne being poured, that feels as thrilling and spoiling for your first date as for your 21st wedding anniversary. Issy von Simson

    Address: Le Caprice, 20 Arlington St, St. James’s, London SW1A 1RJ


    Telephone: +44 20 7629 2239


    Website: le-caprice.co.uk

  • The 17 most romantic restaurants in London

    17. The Palomar, Soho

    Best for: A Soho hotspot that’s always buzzing

    There are no quiet corners at The Palomar, meaning there’s not much risk of awkward silence. And the whole menu – inspired by the fringes of the Mediterranean – is designed for sharing. Book a table in the deep-blue boothed dining room, or join the queue for one of the stools at the busy open kitchen. Then, start with the kubaneh, a light and fluffy Yemeni brioche-type knotted loaf served with a fierce tahini and a silky tomato dip (avoid the tzatziki on date night – it packs a hefty punch of garlic). A cured-beetroot carpaccio, served with burnt goat’s cheese and a hazelnut brittle is a must-order. As are the tender chicken thighs marinated in sumac and served with orange and braised fennel. To finish, order the reverse chocolate fondue: a moist banana sponge spotted with marshmallows and peanut brittle, then heaped with molten chocolate before your eyes – perfect for sharing. Tabitha Joyce

    Address: The Palomar, 34 Rupert St, London W1D 6DN 

    Telephone: +44 20 7439 8777

    Website: thepalomar.co.uk

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