I’ve always been an unashamed advocate for Valentine’s Day. What’s not to love about treating the person who means the world to you and making them happy? Why would you complain about being showered in beautiful bouquets of flowers and being wined and dined in a delightful London restaurant?
I’ve heard the standard anti-Valentine’s day rants and I’m not buying them. “It’s too commercial.” – every day of our consumer-focused, city-dwelling lives is commercial Brian, buy your long suffering wife some flowers for goodness sakes.
Then there’s the classic “But everyday should be Valentines Day.” – ok then Jo, lavish your other half with red roses and a 6 course romantic tasting menu everyday for the other 364 days of the year and am sure she’ll shun Valentines Day with you.
My recent mincings around the various restaurants of London and love for this truly special day has led to me write this exclusive Valentine’s Day dining guide – perfect for those last minute bookings.
For Italian fine dining in a relaxed setting
Start your Valentines experience in this elegant Knightsbridge restaurant by sipping on a couple of expertly blended cocktails at the bar lovingly created by Fillipo Tacchi, formerly found tantalising tastebuds at Chiltern Firehouse.
Curated especially for Valentines Day is the ‘Love Letter’ – a dream-like concoction of Vodka, Aperol, cold-pressed pineapple juice and fresh passion fruit, shaken and served in a martini glass, dressed with a flamboyant heart-shaped frosting of red passion fruit powder.
After drinks, move on to the stylishly monochrome, Great Gatsby-ish dining area to feast on a specially prepared Valentine’s Day menu with fine wines chosen for you by the restaurant’s expert sommelier.
Michelin starred chef Alfredo Russo together with his team, including Chef Mirko Fassari, has curated a romantic Italian dream of a menu for Valentine’s Day dinner.
Influenced by Russo’s northwest Italian Piedmont roots and utilising the finest seasonal ingredients, the menu is sure to please even the fussiest foodies;
Diners can opt for the dainty caviar topped blinis to start, with a glass of chilled champagne before moving on to starters such as the scallop carpaccio with roasted broccoli and a creamy cauliflower sauce. The quinoa salad with radicchio, pear and balsamic vinegar reduction is an enticing vegetarian option for health-conscious diners.
Beef tenderloin cooked in a rich wine sauce, delicate sole fillet served in a salsify sauce with roasted squash and poached eggs with cheese, sautéed asparagus and black truffle is a decadent option for loved-up veggies.
Finish of your romantic food fest with a light yet tangy mango parfait with passion fruit sauce and a delightedly tart raspberry ice cream or indulge in a puff pastry filled with a decadently dark chocolate ice cream, grappa gelatine and a cloud of chattily cream – sugar-addicts will be pleased.
For romantic lunch dates with your work crush
Sometimes we make the very brave decision to ask that dashing work colleague out on a cheeky Valentine’s lunch date, and where better for a loved-up, speedy feast than at a conveniently located Burger and Lobster?
With restaurants dotted all over London, including Knightsbridge, Soho and Canary Wharf, and boasting romantic menus featuring the worlds most famous aphrodisiacs, we can’t think of a better option for a quick, but obscenely romantic lunch date.
Get into the mood with a plate of fresh oysters before gorging on a whole lobster smothered in garlic butter – or a naughty burger if that’s your thing and don’t mind your date seeing you take massive bites with ketchup drizzling down your face.
Tempting sharing platters featuring both lobsters and burgers are ideal for daters who can’t decide what they want – such as my indecisive self.
Burger and Lobster is famous for not only its exquisite food which is prepared promptly, they also boast convenient plastic bibs to protect your work clothes from a naughty splattering of garlic butter or burger sauce – genius.
The buttery soft brioche bun filled with flaked lobster meat smothered in creamy mayo is a favourite of mine….and any one with a pulse (excluding etherial vegans of course.)
Speaking of vegans, the B&L vegan burger includes a tasty bean patty, grilled portobello mushroom and beetroot bun – perfect if your date is a shunner of meat.
Puddings include yet more aphrodisiacs – the dark chocolate and cranberry brownie will get your amorous juices flowing as your conversation takes on a fabulously flirty tone.
Why can’t all lunch breaks be so romantic?
For luxury-loving diners in the know
The shamelessly glitzy IT Ibiza – the Marina-based Ibizan culinary hotspot has finally come to London and taken over a chic Mayfair art gallery in Mayfair’s Dover Street.
After its glamorous launch a few months back, fashionably-dressed diners regularly flock to this lavish dining establishment, and if you’re lucky to get a table on Valentine’s Day, you and your date are in for a night to remember.
Complete with an exclusive VIP area upstairs (discreetly hidden behind an inconspicuous sliding door) a slinky bar stocked with the finest wines, Champagnes and premium spirits, and Instagramable interiors, this is a restaurant you take someone with a taste for the real 7 star life..
I’ve recently found that a few high end London restaurants impress with the decor and the crowd only, but IT London truly impresses with the food.
Starters such as courgette carpaccio smothered in almond cream sauce, gratinated anchovies drenched in orange sauce and king crab salad with fresh artichoke and avocado will transport you back to your sun-soaked holiday in the Italian Riviera.
Thin crust pizzas laden with tempting toppings and soul-satisfying plates of freshly made pasta will delight carb lovers with their rustic Italian authenticity, whilst hearty mains such as the charcoal rack of lamb served with turnip greens and garlic sauce will satisfy your carnivorous crush.
Puddings are a pleasing plethora of homemade Italian classics with a modern touch – the lime-infused walnut biscotti with creamy olive oil ice cream tastes like your Italian mother in law’s personal creation, and divine plates of Italian cheeses are the perfect options for those detoxing from sugar.
Wear your most sophisticated outfit, get ready to talk the language of love and prepare to tip generously…