Looking to impress on a first date? Want to celebrate an anniversary in style? In the mood for romance on Valentine's Day? Or do you simply want to dine in stunning surroundings? Look no further as we round up some of the capital's most striking and exciting restaurants. Plus, check out our romantic restaurants in London for more date night inspiration. Do you agree with the choices? Use the comments box below or tweet your suggestions.
Restaurants for a date in London
Balthazar is a reverie of France, as imagined by Americans, that removes any items that might stick in the throat – the offal eviscerated, nothing too weird, nothing too European – and repackages it beautifully. it’s a homage to Paris – but the Paris of Disney, not Orwell. Balthazar London mimics the New York original perfectly, with red awnings, plush red leather banquettes, giant antiqued mirrored walls, beautiful mosaic floors.Read more
The hotel that houses Jason Atherton's plush restaurant is an exercise in slick metropolitan taste, with opulent chandeliers, framed art-by-the-yard covering entire walls, and improbably elegant staff. The huge lobby bar looks fabulous; but the vast dining room, with its ornate plasterwork ceiling, very low lighting and lively bar area, looks even better. The menu’s prices are alarmingly high – but most of the dishes we tried were very good.Read more
Venue says: Join us for Valentine's Day: sharing plates plus extra-romantic ceviche, dessert and drinks specials.
Date night doesn't have to be about starched table cloths and old-school service. Dial up the heat instead at Ceviche Old St. It has the same winning formula of great drinks, great food and smooth, sunny service as the original Soho branch. Add a primo location (two minutes from Silicon Roundabout - Old Street tube) and it’s no wonder the customers have been packed in like marinated sardines. The catch is that it’s easy to spend lots of time here – and therefore lots of dosh. When we ambled in on a Sunday afternoon, several tables had finished eating and were clearly well into the cocktail phase. An hour later, they were still there. Now that's a fun date.Read more
Sir David Tang’s slinky dining room in the Dorchester’s basement successfully manages to banish all thoughts of hotel restaurants from diners’ minds. The separate Park Lane entrance helps, as do art deco furnishings evoking 1930s Shanghai. Only the moneyed, multinational clientele remind you of the locality.Read more
Once one of Marylebone’s best-kept secrets, Dinings now has a reputation larger than its compact, converted-townhouse setting. Getting a table in the basement is unlikely without a booking, but if you’re lucky there may be a spare stool at the street-level sushi counter. If you’re not keen on small spaces, then you may just like the ground floor better – it’s brighter with more windows. Whatever your thoughts on the venue itself, the food is indisputably excellent (make sure you’re packing plastic, as costs do mount up).Read more
The Exhibition Rooms continues to offer a winning combination bang in the heart of the Crystal Palace triangle. It’s a venue that can satisfy a number of criteria depending on when you go. For lunch, this leafy brasserie with lime green walls and light streaming in through sash windows is a relaxed choice for a smart yet unpretentious meal.Read more
This restaurant colossus offers unapologetically old-school fine dining. First opened in Chelsea in 1967 by the Roux brothers, Albert and Michel, it’s now run by Michel Roux Jr who took the reins in 1991. Le Gavroche continues to be the go-to haute cuisine establishment for a dignified, extremely wealthy crowd. While it may bear the name of the street urchin from Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables, there’s nothing scruffy about the club-like decor. Naturally, prices are high, although the set lunch for £52.60 (including half of a bottle of wine) is great value.Read more
Brother Jeff’s patch of the Galvin empire, La Chapelle is no mere branch of Baker Street’s Bistrot de Luxe, but an altogether more elegant destination for modern French cuisine. Look at the 100ft-high vaulted ceiling for an inkling of the building’s former life as a parish hall – it’s now Grade II listed. Deeply padded brown leather chairs and crisp linens add to the sense of airy opulence. Service is as smooth and lush as béarnaise, with staff persuasively suggesting champagne aperitifs, offering another delve into the excellent bread basket, and pointing out the menu’s signature dishes. Ooh la la.Read more
The Corinthia Hotel is the best new five-star hotel you’ve probably never heard of. Between Trafalgar Square and Embankment, the building looks Orwellian from the outside, but inside is all sweetness and light. In the Lobby Lounge, smiling waitresses glide around like air hostesses from 1960s adverts. Under glass cloches, killer Battenbergs await your bite. Consultant Claire Clark is the Corinthia’s cake guru.Read more
The ‘club’ in the name makes RCC sound like a members-only section of the Royal China Group, which isn’t far from the truth. This, the premier link in the chain, has an air of quiet elegance found in five-star hotels, right down to the faint tinkling of a piano. The kitchen turns out consummate Cantonese cooking, using prized ingredients (abalone, lobster, veal) at every opportunity.Read more
Isola del Sole
This charming Sardinian neighbourhood restaurant tucked away in East Sheen is the second branch from Isola del Sole - the popular original is off Putney High Street, just down the road. There's a focus on the wines, food and produce of Sardinia, though some classic Italian dishes also make their presence felt. Starters include bruschetta al pomodoro, burrata served on aubergine 'caviar' and insalata di granchio - a crab salad with avocado and a fresh tomato sauce. Main courses range from home-made tagliatelle with tiger prawns and tomatoes to pappardelle with wild boar ragout, crab linguine and pancia di maiale e fagiole - Sardinian style pork belly with borlotti beans and sautéed spinach. An exclusively-Italian wine list slants heavily toward Sardinia, complemented by bottles from Friuli, Piedmont, Marche, Veneto and Tuscany. Cocktails come courtesy of Kay Plunkett-Hogge, author of Make Mine a Martini, who has put together a selection of Italian-inspired mixes exclusively for Isola del Sole. Beers - Menabrea and Ichnusa - are both Sardinian brews.