Welcome back to Ask Eater, a column from Eater London in which the site’s editor and contributors answer specific or particularly troubling questions from readers and friends. Have a question for us? You can ask it here:
Hi Eater London,
So, here’s the deal. We need an interesting, relatively affordable restaurant that’s neither too loud, nor too busy on a Saturday night in the next fortnight. It would be great if it’s friendly, too! It’s our first anniversary, so it would be nice for it to feel a little special, or have a slightly romantic vibe. No seafood, please; one of us really likes ramen. And in terms of where in the city, we’re quite flexible: within zone two, or in the north west or south west if further out.
Thanks in advance,
Quiet, Romantic Date Night Duo
Hi Quiet, Romantic Date Night Duo,
Congratulations on your first twelve months. Here’s to many more.
Shame about seafood. Westerns Laundry in Drayton Park near Arsenal was yelling its suitability to this conundrum, but we’ll not spend too long going on about restaurants you’ve asked to avoid.
Thanks for being so geographically flexible — it makes our job a little easier. There are some obvious candidates here — Andrew Edmunds in Soho is a lot of people’s top answer for most romantic restaurant in central London. But I gather by “interesting” and by your note re: ramen, that you’re looking for something that makes it look like you asked Eater or something. Put in the hard yards, and got some inside track.
Well, you did. So here you are. One brooding, classy candidate with delicious, dependable food and brilliant wine would be Noble Rot on Lamb’s Conduit Street. A proper restaurant that’s not that old but feels like it’s been open for decades.
But, there’s a sense that you might want something a little newer, a little cooler. Please be under no illusion, this restaurant is not Japanese, and there will be no ramen. XU is a modern Taiwanese restaurant and tea house. Pharrell was there not that long ago and it’s so handsomely designed, so filmic in atmosphere, it’s been suggested that if Wes Anderson did a restaurant in London’s Chinatown then this is what it might look like. Kind of cool, but warm; stylised, but not at the expense of hospitality.
After some palate-exciting tea-based cocktails to kick off, “an innovative take on classic Taiwanese and Chinese food” means you’re in for a selection of dishes that demonstrate the range and skill of this sophisticated London kitchen. Here’s a few pointers for stuff that didn’t swim: Aromatic, fried 16-spice black pork ribs; mapo tofu; master stock-braised goose to share (it’s a treat night, remember); a plate of Taiwanese sausage taro dumplings for good measure; and a side of seasonal greens.
With a bottle of wine, and including service, you’ll leave with change from £150.
A toast to your first year of love? Sounds about right, doesn’t it.
Your ever-caring, on-call restaurant saviour,