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Romantic restaurants in London

Hot date? Discover the best romantic restaurants and cafés in London to help you set the scene

Momo © Ming Tang-Evans / Time Out

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

Bellanger

"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.

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Islington

Berners Tavern

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.

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Fitzrovia

Blanchette East

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.

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Brick Lane

Bob Bob Ricard

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.

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Soho

Cafe Monico

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.

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Soho

Claude's Kitchen

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. 

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Parsons Green

Clos Maggiore

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'. 

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Covent Garden

Galvin Bistrot de Luxe

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.

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Marylebone

Hakkasan

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. 

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Fitzrovia

J Sheekey Atlantic Bar

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. 

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Covent Garden
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Comments

3 comments
Jason James
Jason James

Clos Maggiore always makes it onto these lists but it's important that everyone realises you'll be very lucky if you get a table in that amazing room with the floral canopy. Most of the tables are in rooms that don't look anywhere near as romantic. Still, that main room is indeed an amazing one so if you can get a table your beau will be well impressed. 

donatella f
donatella f

Also Maximo Italian Bistrot in Kennington is nice and romantic. The perfect venue for Valentine's Day..

C.W.
C.W.

I just wanted to write a review about an excellent romantic date restaurant called About Thyme in Victoria I went to the other evening. I don't know how or where to post this sort of thing so I just hope it ends up in the right place (sorry! you know there is a generation of us that can only manage about 60% comprehension on the internet). Anyway I am gay, this was our third date and nearly passing out from anxiety about getting it right on this vital date. I wanted somewhere where the atmosphere was gay friendly, food, service and attitude needed to be just right and totally romantic. I took a chance on this place and hit the jackpot. It was just lovely, brilliant sensitive service, warm reception, the food was divine and the wine excellent. I had booked thankfully - it was only Monday night and packed, so I think you would have to book. The date went so well I happily report there may be many more and this will be the anniversary restaurant because we loved it. About Thyme is a short walk from Victoria Station which helps a lot when you've had such a good time. Thank you.