Whether you're looking for that first date venue, celebrating an anniversary or going in big for Valentine's Day in London, find the perfect place for love to blossom in our list of romantic restaurants in London. Unfortunately, a cheap date is seldom a romantic date so do be prepared to splash some cash.
London's most romantic restaurants
Venue says: “A relaxed, all-day, traditional French restaurant on Islington Green. Join us for a simple cup of coffee with cake or enjoy a 'grand repas'.”
From the chaps behind The Wolseley, The Delaunay, and Brasserie Zédel comes Angel's gorgeous homage to the golden era of all-day ‘grand cafés’. It’s stunningly art nouveau, all polished wood panelling, smoky mirrors and flattering golden lighting. An abundance of booths encourages café chatter and more than a bit of a buzz. The food – a Venn diagram of French, German and Alsatian – is simple, yet flawless. Cosy up over prawn cocktails ‘up-luxed’ with crayfish, crunchy-coated veal schnitzel, buttery ‘coq au riesling’, and a list of irresistable desserts.
Restaurateur Jason Atherton's venues are everywhere, but Berners Tavern is the most grand setting out of all his restaurants. 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 high – but most of the dishes we tried were very good. Lighting is so low you may struggle to read the menu. But it's worth it in the name of romance.
There’s a naked babe above the bar; clearly, this Shoreditch spin-off of popular Soho hangout Blanchette doesn’t take itself too seriously. Foodwise, think decent bistro fare with a few twists – North African-inflected, with Provençal and Basque overtones – rejigged into small plates you’ll want to share. There are even tables towards the rear secluded by frosted glass and velvet drapes. So for a more relaxed date restaurant, Blanchette East is a solid-gold option.
This enthusiastically outlandish spot has managed to achieve what many London restaurants earnestly desire but rarely deliver – it is out-and-out good fun. There’s a joy evident in every element of the place, from the Roaring ’20s decor to little touches like the ‘press for champagne’ buzzers at each booth. The menu skips between Russia and Europe, cherry-picking treats: starters include platinum vodka shots chilled to -18°C, and venison tartare, while mains feature ‘humble pie’, three-birds burger and chicken kiev. A meal here isn’t cheap, but if you’re looking to intrigue and impress, this place is hard to better.
Have a beautiful evening for two at this belle époque-styled restaurant, where wood panelling, cosy lighting and bartenders in crisp white jackets set the romantic scene. Bag seats on the upstairs gallery so you can overlook the bustling action below. The menu here continues the French theme, with crowd-pleasing brasserie fare on offer – think fat, juicy, garlicky prawns and confit chicken. If things are going really well, say it with chocolate by ordering the rich and indulgent Austrian Sachertorte with a seam of raspberry compote running through.
Set above Amuse Bouche (an inviting bar selling champers at friendly prices), this 'room above a pub' has found new purpose as a terrific neighbourhood restaurant.The weekly-changing menu is courtesy of Claude Compton, who trained at Club Gascon and Petersham Nurseries. But, it’s not just good food that makes a restaurant, especially a local restaurant: it’s great service. And Claude’s Kitchen appears to have hired the nicest bunch of people in town. Ultra-efficient, warm and welcoming.
Romantic settings don’t get more splendidly over-the-top than this. Take your pick from the wood-panelled restaurant or the atmospheric conservatory, bedecked in a forest of fake white blossoms that seem to extend into eternity as they bounce off the restaurant’s mirrors. Fairy lights, candles and a fireplace add to the soft focus vibe. It’s a Provençal-inspired menu, and although à la carte choices are pegged at the sharp end, the pre-theatre menu offering is a bargain. Expect to be among many a couple, since this place regularly bills itself as 'London's most romantic restaurant'.
The first of the Galvin brothers’ restaurant empire, this polished, much-loved Marylebone bistro is classically French (veloutés, soufflés, purées) with the occasional nod to Italy (risottos, lasagnes, panna cottas). The dining room is an inviting place, with its dark chocolate wood panelling, globe lighting and big bunches of scarlet gladioli. Service can be a little relaxed at times, but if you're looking for a little of that classic French romance, the Galvins have got you covered.
More than a decade after it started wowing London’s big spenders with its classy Cantonese cooking, this Michelin-starred trendsetter remains a benchmark against which all high-end Chinese restaurants should be judged. The basement’s stylish interior (all dark wood lattice screens and moody lighting) still attracts the kind of beautiful people who might suppress their appetites – though there was little evidence of restraint on our last visit. Lucky you if your seated in one of the moodily lit corners ideal for an intimate tryst.
Like Paris’s Le Grand Colbert or Café Florian in Venice, J Sheekey is in danger of becoming an institution whose uniquely local appeal stretches far beyond London. This two-unit oyster bar (which recently changed names to the J Sheekey Atlantic Bar) lures lovers in with its red canopies on St Martin’s Court. What could appeal more than the chance to knock back a couple of native oysters amid the nation’s finest stars of stage and screen? They're meant to be an aphrodisiac, after all. Not into oysters? There are plenty of salads and hot plates – including Sheekey's fish pie – to tempt, too.
Read our list of London's Michelin star restaurants
London is one of the top-ranked cities in the world for fine-dining. We're happy to report that London’s status holds year after year, the capital decorated with Michelin stars aplenty. Here's a full list of all London restaurants that have earned the accolade of a Michelin star.
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Does London really need a fine dining restaurant at The O2? It’s a question you’ll ask yourself more than once at The Peninsula, which is tucked inside the InterContinental Hotel and promises ‘dramatic views’ over Canary Wharf and Greenwich Peninsula. In truth, the best view you’ll get here is of the food that’s placed in front of you. The dishes are artfully put together and, quite simply, beautiful. A starter of pink and tender Iberico pork fillet combined particularly well with soft pieces of prawn ceviche and some glossy blobs of squid ink, while the other end of the meal featured a sensational vanilla parfait with sticky toffee and tonka crumble that I devoured within seconds. It’s a shame, then, that nobody’s here to enjoy it. Maybe it’s the location. Maybe it’s because the average price of a main is nearly £30. Either way, the lack of bodies gives the place a very strange, stuffy atmosphere. The waiters are outstanding and they do their best to bring some energy into the otherwise silent room, but we can’t help feeling that The Peninsula needs to loosen up a little to attract The O2 masses.