Behind a set of intriguing red doors in Mayfair is the opulent Park Chinois. A restaurant that pays homage to the decadence of 1930s Shanghai, the venue serves outstanding regional Chinese food, while its contemporary in-house theatre company hosts exceptional live entertainment and mischievous fun. Last year the venue launched new bar Wave; the new best-kept secret on Berkeley Street, the bar is decked out as a Gatsby-style speakeasy and serves an eclectic cocktail offering and dim sum menu for those who want to keep things a little more casual.
17 Berkeley Street, Mayfair, W1J 8EA
Former Petersham Nurseries head chef Skye Gyngell opened this striking restaurant in Somerset House in 2014. Famed for her elegant, simple cooking, the menus at Spring focus on classic and seasonal cuisine. It’s a looker, too – expect to be seated among foliage walls, potted trees and walls imprinted with leaf veins. Guests will fall in love with the likes of warm crab with prawn butter and wholegrain polenta; monkfish with clams, saffron, fennel and garlic aioli; and guinea fowl with charred collard greens, steamed kohlrabi and béarnaise.
Somerset House, Lancaster Place, Strand, WC2R 1LA
Settings don't come more amorous than Clos Maggiore. With a forest of white blossoms, fairy lights and candles, this is a must-visit for couples. Often described as the capital’s most romantic restaurant, this Covent Garden institution is a lavish French bistro with a Provencal-leaning menu. Its standout space is its central indoor courtyard – its canopy of trees, set around a roaring fireplace – is a genuinely striking scene. Make sure to order the roasted vermicelli pasta and native lobster fideuà with Ibérico chorizo, saffron and confit tomatoes. Another plus? Its wine cellar has a selection of over 2,500 bottles to choose from.
33 King Street, Covent Garden, WC2E 8JD
Named after the infamous 18th-century courtesan who lived nearby, Kitty Fisher’s is a popular restaurant in historic Shepherd Market – a proper slice of old-school Mayfair. It’s dark, cosy and intimate, with great food – but most importantly it doesn’t feel formal in the slightest. The menu spans the likes of cod, fennel and artichoke, followed by chocolate with brown-butter ice-cream and hazelnuts. Be sure to kick things off with a ‘Bad Kitty’ – gin, sloe gin, elderflower, lemon and cava. If you can’t get in, look to Cora Pearl – the group’s new Covent Garden site – which opened last year and is just as lovely.
10 Shepherd Market, Mayfair, W1J 7QF
Tickets are now on sale for ‘Quo Vadis & Lovers: St Leonards’, a special Valentine’s supper club as part of the Quo Vadis & Friends series, taking place on 14th February. The supper, cooked up by the team behind hot Shoreditch restaurant St Leonards, will be served family-style and (largely) cliché-free, unfolding a feast of sybaritic pleasure for beloved guests, whether they arrive solo, coupled or in a gang. The event will be held in the second-floor Quo Vadis ‘Marx’ and ‘Leoni’ private dining rooms, across the connected Blue Room, with long, family-style dining tables. After dinner, guests are welcome to move down into the QV Club for the evening to continue the fun.
26-29 Dean Street, Soho, W1D 3LL
Sienna Miller, Suki Waterhouse, Poppy Delevigne and Kiera Knightley have all shown their faces at this Covent Garden institution. Launched in the 1800s, this seafood-focused hotspot is now owned by the group behind Le Caprice and The Ivy, bringing with it a clutch of famous regulars. The J Sheekey Atlantic Bar is the most informal proposition, serving food around the horseshoe-shaped bar or on tables that oversee the open kitchen. When it comes to romance, we recommend ordering one of the towering seafood platters to share – plus a bottle of champagne. Get there late, and you might just spot a couple of famous thesps, fresh from treading the boards.
28-32 St Martin's Court, Covent Garden, WC2N 4AL
Last year saw striking Mayfair restaurant and bar Sketch undergo a bold new update – creating even more of an excuse to pay a repeat visit. The powder pink Gallery has been kitted out in a whole new series of colourful David Shrigley designs, while the Parlour (Sketch’s tea room-turned-bar) has also had a major revamp to give an air of early-90s decadence. Even 15 years after it first opened, the characterful venue remains one of the best spots to see and be seen late into the night. Valentine’s Day is no different – the interiors create a ready-made romantic vibe and the food is picture perfect.
9 Conduit Street, Mayfair, W1S 2XG
The original restaurant is in Paris – the City of Love – and is one of the capital’s foodie gems. This London outpost is as good as the original and has steadily established itself as a discerning destination restaurant. It feels discreet, cosy and intimate, but at the same its interiors are grown up and glamorous. The menu features simple, sophisticated and seasonal dishes. For Valentine’s Day, the team will be serving a welcome glass of champagne, followed by a five-course tasting menu created especially for the evening. Expect to see the likes of Huntsham Court Farm sirloin with black truffle, potato terrine, champagne shallots and beef jus, followed by baked alaska with chocolate and mint.
16 Henrietta Street, Covent Garden, WC2E 8QH
Located in the iconic Michelin building in South Kensington, renowned chef Claude Bosi and his team of chefs serve a menu of beautifully served seafood-oriented dishes and French classics. The two-Michelin-starred restaurant is romantic year-round, but for Valentine’s Day will be offering a nine-course tasting menu with a glass of champagne on arrival. The menu will include some of Claude’s signature dishes such as Cornish cock crab, smoked kipper and cucumber; artichoke and truffle dumplings; South Coast monkfish, miso and pear beurre blanc; and Claude’s take on the French classic duck a l’orange. Sweet dishes include a tartelette of Dulcey chocolate served with banana and cep.
Michelin House, 81 Fulham Road, South Kensington, SW3 6RD
This quaint, Parisian-style bistro serves up a fanciful French menu of small sharing plates such as crispy frog legs, duck rillettes and confit duck leg. Each dish is a modern take on classic French cooking, using simple ingredients and a bold hit of flavour served in an intimate, candlelit room with marble counter tops, bistro stool seating and frolicking nude murals on the walls. For those opting to double date, the bistro has one of the prettiest private dining spaces in London. Hidden away behind a curtain at the back of the restaurant, the Jungle Room lives up to its name: verdant hand-painted wallpaper by artist Aldo Gigli is complemented by bright fresh flowers, candlelight and an opulent chandelier.
9 D'Arblay Street, Soho, W1F 8DR
Minnow is a charming, modern European restaurant serving seasonal British fare. Fronted by soft pastel greens with roses delicately framing the windows, this quaint Parisian-style eatery is located in the leafy setting of Clapham Old Town and is all charm and romance. Low-level lighting and soft jazz add to the ambience, and there’s a gorgeous courtyard adorned with flower boxes at the back of the restaurant. From the dreamy décor to the flavoursome food, Minnow is an absolute delight. Laid-back, with a sense of effortless charm, this neighbourhood gem is a cool spot, but offers enough romance for a swoon-worthy date night.
21 The Pavement, Clapham Common, SW4 OHY
Petersham Nurseries Covent Garden
One of the UK’s best-loved restaurants opened a multi-purpose site within a verdant courtyard in Covent Garden last year. Here, there’s no need for bouquets of flowers, as it’s located in Floral Court, which combines a traditional country garden with Italian elegance – think Tuscan terracotta pots filled with English fern. Plant life also plays a part in the décor of the two restaurants – the antique mirror-filled Petersham is full of indoor trees and an array of vases full of blooms are used to separate sections of the restaurant, while the more stripped-back La Goccia features copper uplighters shaped like plants and chair backs wrought to resemble leaves. The menu reads like dishes at a country wedding: think varieties of courgette with peas, broad beans and Culatello di Zibelo prosciutto; followed by Portland crab and fennel salad with pistachios, crème fraiche and dill.
27-31 King St, Covent Garden, WC2E 8JB
La Poule Au Pot
La Poule Au Pot has been a Belgravia institution since the 1960s. The rustic interior, with its intimate nooks and plethora of dried flowers and bric-à-brac, has changed little since it launched and offers an authentic recreation of paysan France. The spot has been voted ‘best for romance’ in Hardens’ restaurant guide many years in a row, and it’s no surprise – dinner is served by candlelight and its menu is classic French: think snails and mussels for sharing; crab salad; grilled sea bream with fennel and white wine sauce; and creme brûlée (with two spoons) for dessert.
231 Ebury Street, Belgravia, SW1W 8UT
An Italian mainstay for well-heeled clientele, Daphne’s is well known for its people-watching potential and classic country-style cuisine. Inside, expect a vibrant design, from the bright, flower-filled dining room to the rustic conservatory and lamp-lit counter-top dining at the bar. Menus are decidedly Mediterranean – highlights include gamberoni with chilli and garlic; chargrilled squid with zucchini and nduja; followed by vanilla panna cotta with rhubarb and ginger.
112 Draycott Avenue, Chelsea, SW3 3AE
Bob Bob Ricard
With its red and gold-gilded interiors, Bob Bob Ricard really sets the scene when it comes to romance. With an ‘elegant’ dress code (no need for ties), the restaurant serves British and Russian classics with a modern touch – think anything from lobster mac n’ cheese to elevated beef wellington. For an extra dash of extravagance, don’t forget to order a bottle of bubbles via the restaurant’s famous ‘Press For Champagne’ button, located on every table.
1 Upper James Street, Soho, W1F 9DF
Harry’s Dolce Vita
This Knightsbridge gem comes with all the elegance and glamour of 1950s Italy, with wood-panelled walls and parquet flooring, brassy antique mirrored ceilings and ambient retro lighting. Couples can curl up on the cosy banquette seating with an array of classic Italian plates – we like to tuck into truffle arancini, calamari fritti and fresh burrata. An impressive cocktail list is guaranteed to set the scene – and make you want to linger a little longer once your meal’s over.
27-31 Basil Street, Knightsbridge, SW3 1BB