London is jam-packed with great restaurants – but which ones are best suited to dates? You want somewhere with a great atmosphere (buzzy but not hectic), plus the right lighting, chic interiors, and of course that all-important food. Good cocktails don’t hurt either. Here, we highlight some of the most romantic restaurants in London. Some feature cosy alcoves and fireplaces, others have aphrodisiac menus and a long champagne list, but all are sure to set sparks flying – whether you’re on a first date or have been married 30 years.
The Most Romantic Restaurants in London
- Side Hustle at NoMad London
- Kudu Grill
- JOIA Battersea
- Clos Maggiore
- Dalloway Terrace
- The London Shell Co.
- Le Pont De La Tour
- Berners Tavern
- The Wolesley
- Bob Bob Ricard
Side Hustle at NoMad London
Everyone knows about the Instagram-famous atrium restaurant at the centre of buzzy US import NoMad London – but for date night, the name to know is Side Hustle, tucked away at the side of the hotel. The Latin American-inspired bar and restaurant has a seductive, lively vibe, with a menu of punchy small plates and killer cocktails. Pull up a stool at the bar and get stuck into some great conversation as you sip margaritas and feast on some dangerously moreish dips and chips, parmesan croquettes and pork tacos.
Old Police Station Entrance, 28 Bow St, London WC2E 7AW, nomadhotel.com
Peckham’s Kudu Grill is a love letter to the art of braai (or open coal South African barbecue) – and what a tribute it is. Discreetly housed in an old pub, the restaurant has a subterranean feel which lends itself well to date nights. Step through the heavy black drapes to find candlelit marble tables, emerald velvet benches, exposed brick walls and burnished mirrors. If this wasn’t all sexy enough, then the sizzle of the red-hot braii and the flare of flames behind the bar is sure to get you fired up. Beef tartare comes piled high with crispy shallots and the fresh Irish oysters are dressed with tomato dashi and trout roe. But the star of the show is the fried pigs tails: bite-sized balls of crackling which arrive at your table piping hot and dripping in honey mustard glaze. The hottest mains, meanwhile, are the ones made for sharing. You won’t find better date food than the beautifully butterflied black bream, or the T-bone steeped in beer pickled onions and sweet treacle bordelaise.
57 Nunhead Ln, London SE15 3TR, kuducollective.com
A recent addition to Battersea, JOIA is home to a feature rarely seen on the London restaurant scene: spaciousness. Perched atop art’otel Battersea, expect stunningly chic interiors from the moment you step into the hotel lobby, continued into the elevator that whisks you to the 15th floor, and culminated in JOIA; it’s all dusky pink and baby blue, arches and gold finishes, perfectly complemented by the sunset sky viewed through panoramic windows. If you’d like to eavesdrop on the couple’s conversation next to you, you’ll be hard pressed: most tables are surrounded by enviable pockets of space, secluding you to your own dinner conversation. Choose from the delicious Portuguese menu from chef Henrique Sá Pessoa in his first London restaurant; there’s plenty of seafood, fresh fish, and tasty croquetas to indulge in. Patatas bravas is also a must, naturally. End the evening in JOIA Bar, gazing at the art deco Power Station, tasty cocktail in hand, soundtracked by a cool resident DJ programme from Soho Radio every Thursday–Saturday from 7pm. By Olivia Emily
1 Electric Blvd, Nine Elms, London SW11 8BJ, joiabattersea.co.uk
Hailed by many as London’s most romantic restaurant, you couldn’t dream up a better date spot than Clos Maggiore. With high-end French food, a conservatory featuring a ceiling of hanging flowers, a glowing fireplace and a glass roof looking up to the starry night sky, it’s no surprise the restaurant witnesses several marriage proposals each week.
33 King St, London WC2E 8JD, closmaggiore.com
Even if you haven’t been there, you’ll most likely have seen footage of Bloomsbury’s infamous Dalloway Terrace, one of London’s most Instagrammed restaurants. Named after Virginia Woolf’s famous character Mrs Dalloway, the balcony is picture-perfect, adorned in flowers and towering plants. The decor changes each season; currently it’s a snug haven decked out with twinkling lights and wintry foliage.
16-22 Great Russell St, London WC1B 3NN, dallowayterrace.com
Spice things up at Ravinder Bhogal’s Jikoni, a neighbourhood-style Indian restaurant found in the heart of Marylebone. Laid-back surroundings and low lighting make for ideal date settings, and the sense of homeliness ensures diners feel relaxed. The sharing plates format lends itself well to romance too, and the wine list is impressive yet approachable. Tuck into the likes of cauliflower popcorn, hand-dived Orkney scallops, and crispy aubergine with sticky rice, and finish on a sweet note with the signature banana cake.
19-21 Blandford St, London W1U 3DJ, jikonilondon.com
The London Shell Co.
Dine à deux as you meander down the river aboard the Prince Regent, a bright blue barge docked in Paddington. If the beautiful views weren’t romantic enough, oysters feature on the menu – a natural aphrodisiac.
Union Canal, Sheldon Square, London W2 6EP, londonshellco.com
Le Pont De La Tour
It’s almost worth a trip to Le Pont de la Tour for the views alone. Perched on the riverside, you can look out onto Tower Bridge as you dine on high-end French cuisine. A special set menu is on offer, featuring dishes like Colchester oysters with merguez sausages, sweet potato and saffron gnocchi, roast duck with spiced pomegranate, with a Manjari chocolate mousse for dessert.
36D Shad Thames, London SE1 2YE, lepontdelatour.co.uk
With its wall to wall paintings, elegant interiors and cosy booths, you can’t go wrong with Berners Tavern, one of the most beautiful restaurants this city has to offer. And with Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton at the forefront, it’s not surprising the food is great too. Champagne is served by the glass from a special trolley, alongside impressive seafood, meat and veggie dishes – from grass-fed Scottish steaks to baked Orkney scallop and an eight-hour slow cooked beef number. Hopefully, you’ll bond over a mutual love of the mac ‘n’ cheese, a Berners Tavern favourite.
10 Berners St, London W1T 3NP, bernerstavern.com
You can’t beat a classic. Dine on oysters, caviar and patisserie for a classy date to remember at The Wolseley – the restaurant which AA Gill loved so much, he wrote a whole book about it. With its high vaulted ceilings, Venetian pillars and Oriental friezes on the walls, the interiors ooze glamour, which means it always has a sense of occasion, whether you’re there for a quick breakfast or a long, leisurely dinner. An all-day menu offers everything from seafood to schnitzels and salads – plus a selection of ice cream coupes, including a pistachio and hazelnut number inspired by the late Lucian Freud.
160 Piccadilly, St. James’s, London W1J 9EB, thewolseley.com
Bob Bob Ricard
With its sparkling gold look, sexy Soho spot Bob Bob Ricard feels like stepping back in time to the opulent Jazz Age. Private booths provide intimate seating, while flattering lighting makes everything better. But the prime draw here is the iconic ‘Press for Champagne’ button, which sits beside every table. Press away and let the conversation flow – along with the bubbles…
1 Upper James St, London W1F 9DF, bobbobricard.com
Nothing says romance like a gorgeous French restaurant, and you can expect French cuisine with a unique New Orleans flourish at Louie. If you’re dining on Valentine’s Day itself, you’ll be treated to live soul music performances at the restaurant’s Alligator Bar. Soak up the electric atmosphere while sipping on a cocktail – what could be better?
13-15 West Street, London WC2H 9NE, louie-london.com