Top 10 Restaurants for Romance in London

(Image credit – Mint Leaf Restaurant) 

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, what better time to remind readers of the capital’s top 10 restaurants for romance, as voted for in our annual London restaurant survey: we achieved 7,500 participants in the 2017 survey.

The coveted top spots are unchanged from last year, with Clos Maggiore, La Poule au Pot and Andrew Edmunds once again on the podium for passion.

And while they might already be booked solid for February 14th, at these restaurants, you are guaranteed a romantic rendezvous, any day of the year.

1. Clos Maggiore

33 King St, London, WC2
020 7379 9696

Also voted ‘Most Romantic Restaurant in the World’ by Architectural Digest last year, Covent Garden’s Clos Maggiore has an enchanting tree-filled conservatory, with retractable roof for balmy summer evenings, and roaring open fires for winter.

 Valentine’s Day Menu

Harden’s says – “A girl knows she’s being spoilt” at this Covent Garden “haven” – the survey’s No. 1 romantic choice – where for full effect you must sit in the “magical back conservatory, which is second-to-none for a date”. Service is “charming and courteous” and the cooking “delicious”, if arguably eclipsed by the “massive tome” of a wine list.

 

2. La Poule au Pot

231 Ebury St, London, SW1
020 7730 7763

For as long as anyone can remember, La Poule au Pot’s rustic interior and Gallic fare has remained unchanged; a haven for romance all year round, it has featured in every Top Ten Romantic Restaurants list we have ever published.

⊛  Reveillon de la St. Valentin Menu

Harden’s says – “For romantic gazing across a candle into the eyes of your beloved”, there is no better choice than this famously “seductive” haven of “dark corners and intimacy” in Pimlico. The hearty, “classic” Gallic sustenance carries “no surprises”, but it and the “colourful”, “resolutely French” service all “add to the rustic charm”.

 

3. Andrew Edmunds

46 Lexington St, London, W1
020 7437 5708

Mr Edmunds’ (yes, he is a real person) Soho veteran restaurant has been the go-to place for a romantic rendezvous for decades. Flattering candlelight, intimate seating and an impressive wine cellar add to the allure.

⊛ Valentine’s Menu

Harden’s says – “For the perfect first date”, this “magical” (if “cramped”), candle-lit Soho townhouse is second to none – a “shabby-chic treasure” that’s “barely changed in three decades” (although actually, behind the scenes, they put in a big new kitchen this year). The “simple, daily changing fare” is unfailingly good value, but the star turn is the “incredible wines at stunning prices”.

4. Bleeding Heart Restaurant

Bleeding Heart Yd, Greville St, London, EC1
020 7242 8238

This hidden-away series of cosy Dickensian rooms in the City are well-known for romance – and, oddly, for business too. The incredible wine list adds that je ne sais quoi to the reliable Gallic cuisine, and the goldsmiths of Hatton Garden are on the doorstep, should your date go really well…

⊛ Valentine’s Day Menu

Harden’s says – “Tucked away in a quiet corner of Hatton Garden”, this “old-fashioned” warren – comprising a restaurant, tavern and bistro – is equally superb for “business bonding”, or “seductive romance”. The Gallic cuisine is “a safe bet”, but it’s the “epic” wine list and marvellously “cosy and intimate” style that are the real clinchers.

 

5. Chez Bruce

2 Bellevue Rd, London, SW17
020 8672 0114

Our survey’s favourite restaurant for over a decade, this South London destination is a place of pilgrimage for food lovers as well as romance; comments on the service, food and wines – and especially the cheeseboard – are nothing short of superlative.

Harden’s says – “Still at the top of its game after all these years” – Bruce Poole’s “unpretentious” yet “consistently excellent” neighbourhood restaurant is yet again the survey No. 1 favourite, and “well worth the schlep to Wandsworth Common”. “There are no fads – just classic, interesting, perfectly executed cooking”, matched with service that “while impeccable, is completely devoid of airs and graces”. All this plus “stellar” wine and a “cheeseboard probably visible from space”. And price-wise, it’s “so reasonable for something so good!”

 

6. Le Gavroche

43 Upper Brook St, London, W1
020 7408 0881

Your date (so long as she’s female) won’t know just how much you are spending on them at this Mayfair basement restaurant (the lady’s menu has no prices) established by Michel Roux’s father Albert. The MasterChef judge is often in evidence, too.

Harden’s says – Michel Roux’s “iconic” Mayfair bastion (est 1967, by his father Albert) provides a “flawless and indulgent” treat, wherein “psychic” staff deliver “elegant” French cuisine and a “wine-lover’s” list “full of gems”. That the basement setting looks “a little dated” is all part of the traditional charm, and the main man’s regular presence helps underpin “a truly magnificent experience”. Top Tip – “the best value set lunch ever”.

 

7. Galvin La Chapelle

35 Spital Square, London, E1
020 7299 0400

 The vaulted ceiling of this Spitalfields restaurant adds ‘wow’ factor to any meal, be it the first date or a diamond wedding anniversary. The Galvin brothers’ third venture is slowly creeping up our Top 10 list for romance – last year, it was in eighth position.

⊛ Valentine’s Day Menu

Harden’s says – “To impress a client or date”, you can’t beat the “gorgeous” and “dramatic” setting of the Galvin brothers Spitalfields venture (“like eating in a minor cathedral”); it’s a “very slick operation” all round, with “classic, not overly fussy” Gallic cuisine and “top notch” service.

 

8. Fera at Claridge’s

Claridge’s Hotel, 49 Brook St, London, W1
020 7107 8888

A stunning Art Deco interior and attentive service add to the atmosphere for a romantic date in this hotel restaurant, relaunched in recent years with chef Simon Rogan at the helm; it’s a new addition to our romance list this year.

Harden’s says – After a dazzling debut, Simon Rogan’s second year in this “stunning” Art Deco chamber still inspires adulation for his “wizard” tasting menus and “astonishingly good wine matches”. Prices, however, are “breathtaking”, and ratings slipped perceptibly across the board this year, with growing gripes about “an absence of fireworks”.

 

9. Le Caprice

Arlington House, Arlington St, London, SW1
020 7629 2239

A trip back in time to the ’80s makes for a special sort of date, and Le Caprice still provides glamour and buzz by the bucketload.

Harden’s says – “Sooooo smooth, soooo suave” – this “effortless” ’80s brasserie tucked away behind the Ritz has always “eschewed culinary heights”, and even if its “classy comfort food” is a tad less excellent under Richard Caring’s ownership it’s “the front of house staff and overall buzz which make it so special”.

10. Gauthier Soho

21 Romilly St, London, W1
020 7494 3111

Last but not least on the list, and maintaining tenth position from last year, comes the elegant and romantic Soho townhouse Gauthier. The fact that you can’t just walk in from the street but need to ring adds to its sense of intimacy, and there’s something for everyone here – even a Valentine’s menu for romantic vegans.

⊛ Valentine’s Menu

⊛ Valentine’s Vegan Menu

Harden’s says – “Ringing the doorbell adds to the special feel” of a trip to Alexis Gauthier’s “beautiful, plush and quiet” Georgian townhouse, in the heart of Soho. But while it “oozes romance and decadence”, it’s first-and-foremost a gastronomic experience, with “unbelievably slick” service and some of London’s best French cooking – “seasonal, classically based, and superb in taste and presentation”. Top Menu Tip – leave space for the “always wonderful” signature Louis IV chocolate praline dessert.


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