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The Best London Restaurants For Valentine’s Day Dinner

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February 14 — a good day for love, generally a bad day for food-lovers. Want to go out for dinner but keen to avoid going the whole hog and eat one instead? Give silly-priced set menus majoring on oysters, truffles and disappointment a swerve, and go for one of these London favourites. From bookable neighbourhood restaurants with bags of atmosphere to walk-in hot tickets that might well be worth a punt early or late in the evening, these are the best Valentine’s Day options London has to offer, with no faff, fakery, or plastic flowers in sight.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Westerns Laundry

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34 Drayton Park, Highbury East
London N5 1PB, UK

The Holloway seafood specialist is low-key romantic: never in-yer-face about it, but indisputably so. Long tables will take the edge off any Valentine’s awkwardness, and the menu lends itself to being lingered over: langoustines, crab croquettes, day-boat fish, complemented by unfussy veg-first sides and a gargantuan, constantly evolving wine list. As instructed by the blackboard, share the rum baba to finish.

Westerns Laundry

2. Jolene

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21 Newington Green, Mayville Estate
London N16 9PU, UK

Westerns’ stablemates name may call to mind Dolly Parton’s least romantic song, but it’s a classy Valentine’s choice. The third opening from Jeremie Cometto-Lingenheim and David Gingell is a lightly-worn, industrial-pastoral paean to continental hospitality and traditions rooted in the soil and the fields. The blackboard menu is long on assemblies of good ingredients exchanging sideways glances: pork and green sauce, buttermilk and plums, ravioli and sage butter. Then, of course, there’s the famous cheese toastie — anecdotally, it’s quite the aphrodisiac.

Best cheese toasties in London: cheese and ham at Jolene Patricia Niven

3. Bright

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1 Westgate St
London E8 3RL, UK

It’s hard to go wrong with the follow-up to P. Franco. What could be sexier than asparagus and sprouting broccoli with hollandaise to dredge them through, aged beef sobrasada on toast or tagliatelle with gamey ragu? The wine list here is a showcase of natural, low-intervention styles from small scale producers across Europe and the New World, and the food is a contemporary mix of classic Italian cuisine (including fresh pasta) and modern European inclination, an idiosyncratic style of cooking which is more than a little interested in the rich seasonings and importance of umami found in Asian cuisine.

Asparagus at Bright restaurant in London Fields Andrew Leitch/Eater London

4. Barboun Shoreditch

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61-67 Great Eastern St, Shoreditch
London EC2A 3HU, UK

How to up the chances of securing a table on Valentine’s Day? Pick a restaurant with lots of tables. Barboun, Shoreditch’s good-looking new Eastern Mediterranean grill restaurant, fits the bill: the dining room is expansive but doesn’t feel cavernous. Almost everything here is made for sharing ⁠— think blackened aubergine with pita for dredging, sour-cherry-stuffed dolma with garlic yoghurt, and smoked eel on split peas.

The expansive dining room at Barboun in Shoreditch, a new Eastern Mediterranean grill restaurant and one of the hottest in the city Barboun [Official Photo]

5. BAO Fitzrovia

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31 Windmill St, Fitzrovia
London W1T 2JN, UK

Navigating the early stages of a thing? This is the ideal venue for bet-hedging. Bao’s buns and bowls are never-fail fun and suggest sharing without screaming hearts and flowers. It doesn’t have to be a date, but it can be if that’s the way the wind’s blowing. Sit at the upstairs bar — if the conversation runs dry, there’ll be plenty going on in the background to talk about.

The original pork bao, at Bao’s Fitzrovia site Tomas Jivanda/for Eater London

6. Quo Vadis

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26-29 Dean St, Soho
London W1D 3LL, UK

“Quo Vadis was my guaranteed knicker-dropper,” confides one London food socialite, recalling the days before he met his husband-to-be. A combination of super-strength cocktails, steaks cooked to perfection and shareable puddings — profiterole stack, anyone — makes the grande dame of Dean Street a safe bet.

Ola Smit

7. Ducksoup

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41 Dean St, Soho
London W1D 4PY, UK

Sit shoulder to shoulder on stools at this perennial Soho favourite and feast on the less obvious food of love: think braised radicchio with farro, gorgonzola dolce and hazelnuts, deep-fried lamb breast and spiced apple and rye cake with date ice cream. And yes, there are oysters, priced at £15 for half a dozen. Threesomes can book.

Courtesy of Duck Soup

8. Andrew Edmunds Restaurant

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46 Lexington St, Soho
London W1F 0LP, UK

For more than 30 years Andrew Edmunds has been setting the scene for romance with a Franco-British menu encompassing asparagus, dressed crab, confit duck and rhubarb jelly with cream. Upstairs it’s all flickering candlelight, wax dripping down claret bottles, and wildflower posies. The discreet tables downstairs, meanwhile, are very popular with men of a certain age whose wives don’t understand them — or maybe understand them a little too well.

Exterior of Andrew Edmunds restaurant in Soho Official

9. mei mei london

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Mei Mei Unit 52, Borough Market Kitchen, Jubilee Pl
London SE1 9AG, UK

It’s impossible to book at Borough Market standout Mei Mei, hailed as the best casual opening in London for several years, which means the planning-averse are in with as good a shot as anyone at grabbing coveted counter seats at lunchtime. Elizabeth Haigh’s solo debut in the city takes it inspiration from kopi tiam culture: Hainanese chicken rice (with or without buttermilk fried chicken) is a must-order, while the deservedly hyped kaya toast comes, conveniently, in two pieces.

Kopi at Singaporean coffee bar Mei Mei, one of the best new cafes and restaurants in London Mei Mei [Official Photo]

10. Loyal Tavern

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171-173 Bermondsey St, Bermondsey
London SE1 3UW, UK

Another great way to score a table on February 14? Eat late. Loyal Tavern, former Duck and Waffle executive chef Tom Cenci’s buzzy all-day restaurant on Bermondsey Street, is open until 1.30am on Fridays and Saturdays: what could be more romantic than a table at, say 9.30pm, with grilled flatbreads, beetroot tartare, rib of beef and warm chocolate brownies (all of which are on the Valentine’s Day menu).

Instagram/@loyaltavernlondon

11. The Other Naughty Piglet

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The Other Palace, 12 Palace St, Westminster
London SW1E 5JA, UK

Victoria, while a handy meeting point, is about as romantic as a case of athlete’s foot. Give thanks, then, for the team from Brixton’s Naughty Piglets, who’ve set up shop above The Other Palace theatre. As at the original, the small plates are clever but totally unpretentious — Devon crab, peanut and pickled cabbage; chocolate mousse with tonka bean and salted caramel — and the French-focused wine list is a joy. Seats at the counter are more chilled out than the tables.

Official

12. Terroirs East Dulwich

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36-38 Lordship Ln, East Dulwich
London SE22 8HJ, UK

Formerly known as Toasted, this neighbourhood wine bar has lost none of its neighbourly charm since restaurant parent Terroirs assumed naming rights. The formula that has made Terroirs and its Clapham sibling Soif so successful is on full display here: eclectic wine lists with a good selection by the glass, classy charcuterie boards, and seasonal, modern European cooking. Effortlessly romantic.

Wine and charcuterie at Terroirs wine bar, one of the best restaurants in East Dulwich Courtesy Terroirs

1. Westerns Laundry

34 Drayton Park, Highbury East, London N5 1PB, UK
Westerns Laundry

The Holloway seafood specialist is low-key romantic: never in-yer-face about it, but indisputably so. Long tables will take the edge off any Valentine’s awkwardness, and the menu lends itself to being lingered over: langoustines, crab croquettes, day-boat fish, complemented by unfussy veg-first sides and a gargantuan, constantly evolving wine list. As instructed by the blackboard, share the rum baba to finish.

34 Drayton Park, Highbury East
London N5 1PB, UK

2. Jolene

21 Newington Green, Mayville Estate, London N16 9PU, UK
Best cheese toasties in London: cheese and ham at Jolene Patricia Niven

Westerns’ stablemates name may call to mind Dolly Parton’s least romantic song, but it’s a classy Valentine’s choice. The third opening from Jeremie Cometto-Lingenheim and David Gingell is a lightly-worn, industrial-pastoral paean to continental hospitality and traditions rooted in the soil and the fields. The blackboard menu is long on assemblies of good ingredients exchanging sideways glances: pork and green sauce, buttermilk and plums, ravioli and sage butter. Then, of course, there’s the famous cheese toastie — anecdotally, it’s quite the aphrodisiac.

21 Newington Green, Mayville Estate
London N16 9PU, UK

3. Bright

1 Westgate St, London E8 3RL, UK
Asparagus at Bright restaurant in London Fields Andrew Leitch/Eater London

It’s hard to go wrong with the follow-up to P. Franco. What could be sexier than asparagus and sprouting broccoli with hollandaise to dredge them through, aged beef sobrasada on toast or tagliatelle with gamey ragu? The wine list here is a showcase of natural, low-intervention styles from small scale producers across Europe and the New World, and the food is a contemporary mix of classic Italian cuisine (including fresh pasta) and modern European inclination, an idiosyncratic style of cooking which is more than a little interested in the rich seasonings and importance of umami found in Asian cuisine.

1 Westgate St
London E8 3RL, UK

4. Barboun Shoreditch

61-67 Great Eastern St, Shoreditch, London EC2A 3HU, UK
The expansive dining room at Barboun in Shoreditch, a new Eastern Mediterranean grill restaurant and one of the hottest in the city Barboun [Official Photo]

How to up the chances of securing a table on Valentine’s Day? Pick a restaurant with lots of tables. Barboun, Shoreditch’s good-looking new Eastern Mediterranean grill restaurant, fits the bill: the dining room is expansive but doesn’t feel cavernous. Almost everything here is made for sharing ⁠— think blackened aubergine with pita for dredging, sour-cherry-stuffed dolma with garlic yoghurt, and smoked eel on split peas.

61-67 Great Eastern St, Shoreditch
London EC2A 3HU, UK

5. BAO Fitzrovia

31 Windmill St, Fitzrovia, London W1T 2JN, UK
The original pork bao, at Bao’s Fitzrovia site Tomas Jivanda/for Eater London

Navigating the early stages of a thing? This is the ideal venue for bet-hedging. Bao’s buns and bowls are never-fail fun and suggest sharing without screaming hearts and flowers. It doesn’t have to be a date, but it can be if that’s the way the wind’s blowing. Sit at the upstairs bar — if the conversation runs dry, there’ll be plenty going on in the background to talk about.

31 Windmill St, Fitzrovia
London W1T 2JN, UK

6. Quo Vadis

26-29 Dean St, Soho, London W1D 3LL, UK
Ola Smit

“Quo Vadis was my guaranteed knicker-dropper,” confides one London food socialite, recalling the days before he met his husband-to-be. A combination of super-strength cocktails, steaks cooked to perfection and shareable puddings — profiterole stack, anyone — makes the grande dame of Dean Street a safe bet.

26-29 Dean St, Soho
London W1D 3LL, UK

7. Ducksoup

41 Dean St, Soho, London W1D 4PY, UK
Courtesy of Duck Soup

Sit shoulder to shoulder on stools at this perennial Soho favourite and feast on the less obvious food of love: think braised radicchio with farro, gorgonzola dolce and hazelnuts, deep-fried lamb breast and spiced apple and rye cake with date ice cream. And yes, there are oysters, priced at £15 for half a dozen. Threesomes can book.

41 Dean St, Soho
London W1D 4PY, UK

8. Andrew Edmunds Restaurant

46 Lexington St, Soho, London W1F 0LP, UK
Exterior of Andrew Edmunds restaurant in Soho Official

For more than 30 years Andrew Edmunds has been setting the scene for romance with a Franco-British menu encompassing asparagus, dressed crab, confit duck and rhubarb jelly with cream. Upstairs it’s all flickering candlelight, wax dripping down claret bottles, and wildflower posies. The discreet tables downstairs, meanwhile, are very popular with men of a certain age whose wives don’t understand them — or maybe understand them a little too well.

46 Lexington St, Soho
London W1F 0LP, UK

9. mei mei london

Mei Mei Unit 52, Borough Market Kitchen, Jubilee Pl, London SE1 9AG, UK
Kopi at Singaporean coffee bar Mei Mei, one of the best new cafes and restaurants in London Mei Mei [Official Photo]

It’s impossible to book at Borough Market standout Mei Mei, hailed as the best casual opening in London for several years, which means the planning-averse are in with as good a shot as anyone at grabbing coveted counter seats at lunchtime. Elizabeth Haigh’s solo debut in the city takes it inspiration from kopi tiam culture: Hainanese chicken rice (with or without buttermilk fried chicken) is a must-order, while the deservedly hyped kaya toast comes, conveniently, in two pieces.

Mei Mei Unit 52, Borough Market Kitchen, Jubilee Pl
London SE1 9AG, UK

10. Loyal Tavern

171-173 Bermondsey St, Bermondsey, London SE1 3UW, UK
Instagram/@loyaltavernlondon

Another great way to score a table on February 14? Eat late. Loyal Tavern, former Duck and Waffle executive chef Tom Cenci’s buzzy all-day restaurant on Bermondsey Street, is open until 1.30am on Fridays and Saturdays: what could be more romantic than a table at, say 9.30pm, with grilled flatbreads, beetroot tartare, rib of beef and warm chocolate brownies (all of which are on the Valentine’s Day menu).

171-173 Bermondsey St, Bermondsey
London SE1 3UW, UK

11. The Other Naughty Piglet

The Other Palace, 12 Palace St, Westminster, London SW1E 5JA, UK
Official

Victoria, while a handy meeting point, is about as romantic as a case of athlete’s foot. Give thanks, then, for the team from Brixton’s Naughty Piglets, who’ve set up shop above The Other Palace theatre. As at the original, the small plates are clever but totally unpretentious — Devon crab, peanut and pickled cabbage; chocolate mousse with tonka bean and salted caramel — and the French-focused wine list is a joy. Seats at the counter are more chilled out than the tables.

The Other Palace, 12 Palace St, Westminster
London SW1E 5JA, UK

12. Terroirs East Dulwich

36-38 Lordship Ln, East Dulwich, London SE22 8HJ, UK
Wine and charcuterie at Terroirs wine bar, one of the best restaurants in East Dulwich Courtesy Terroirs

Formerly known as Toasted, this neighbourhood wine bar has lost none of its neighbourly charm since restaurant parent Terroirs assumed naming rights. The formula that has made Terroirs and its Clapham sibling Soif so successful is on full display here: eclectic wine lists with a good selection by the glass, classy charcuterie boards, and seasonal, modern European cooking. Effortlessly romantic.

36-38 Lordship Ln, East Dulwich
London SE22 8HJ, UK

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