Welcome to Ask Eater, a new column from Eater London in which the site’s editor and contributors offer to answer specific or particularly troubling requests from readers and friends. A new question and answer will run every Thursday. Have a question for us? You can ask it here:
Hi Eater London,
My girlfriend and I are looking for a romantic tasting menu for our third anniversary at the end of August (so we’ve got some time to book it). Ideally we’re looking for something in the range of £50-100 per head (including a wine flight if possible), but that’s not a hard and fast limit. We’re both pretty adventurous eaters so anything goes really, but we went for a fancy Chinese tasting menu at Hunan earlier this year so something different would be great. We’re based in Pimlico but would be happy to travel a bit within London — preferably by public transport — to get there.
Romantic Tasting Menu Seeker
Hi Romantic Tasting Menu Seeker,
Great question, for which we think we have an answer. While it’s tempting to suggest Lyle’s in Shoreditch — a recent new entry in the controversial World’s 50 Best Restaurants list — some might argue that the dinner menu there is better described as an extended set menu, less a tasting, per se.
With that, we propose the less-heralded Perilla, in Newington Green. Author of that neighbourhood’s Eater guide, Ed Smith wrote that Perilla “offers an inventive, contemporary and refined spin on seasonal British cooking.” Which is exactly what it does. And, at £44 for six courses, this is probably one of the best value tasting menus in town. You can also get your wine pairing (five glasses) for an additional £28 per head. Then there’s a “before or after sweet” cheese supplement with a neat beer pairing for £11 each.
So, for the full shebang: seven courses, with wine, cheese (and a beer), this romantic tasting menu comes in under(!) budget — at £90 per head, less service.
And what might those courses look like, we hear you ask? Well, Perilla — like a good number of the city’s new but not-quite-fine-dining restaurants — presents meat and fish sparingly and smartly across its menus. So cod might be shredded and dressed with lemon verbena; mackerel both barbecued and raw; pressed chicken thigh garnished with pancetta, kohlrabi, and red wine; where strawberries might arrive in a puddle of buttermilk and olive oil.
Late August in a bright, open, modern dining room like Perilla’s will hopefully lend your evening a special kind of romantic charm. So too, should the friendly — not-too-chummy — style of service.
It’s also pretty convenient for you traveling from Pimlico: Jump on the Victoria line to Highbury and Islington (25 minutes), and either take a 20 minute walk from there, or change onto the Overground to Canonbury — knocking about 10 minutes off the walk. Hey, you might even want to stop into Prawn On The Lawn, Vins, or Yield N16 for a pre-prandial and a snack on the way. Or a shot of celebratory Jameson’s at Black Axe Mangal, just outside Highbury and Islington station, if that’s your thing.
Good luck, and happy anniversary,