I’ve been chatting to someone throughout lockdown 3.0. The thing is, they don’t live in London but we’re finally meeting face to face soon and I need something that’s a talking point. I’m looking for somewhere that will impress a non-Londoner. Can do a sit-down or a grab-and-go situation. Not too expensive please.
Charlotte. My my my, you have piqued my interest here. An out-of-towner, you say? I am picturing Bridges of Madison County. I am picturing Sleepless in Seattle. I am picturing some kind of Nicholas Sparks novel called In My Heart, Outside The M25. After a year of government-mandated celibacy, this is what I would class as ‘A Seriously Exciting Situation’.
Now, as someone who is eternally drawn to the aloof siren song of long-distance romance and relationships where I act as both girlfriend, beloved tour guide, and cheap AirBNB host, I know exactly what you’re after. Somewhere that casually screams ‘I have my shit together and I live this incredibly cool interesting life in London’.
Let’s immediately strike Covent Garden, Piccadilly Circus, and Camden from the location rosta because we don’t want any tourist vibes here. Absolute hard pass on Oxford Circus, no thank you. You want somewhere that is both charming, whimsical, and quintessential London, but kind of by accident. You want somewhere exactly like Winemaker’s Club in Farringdon.
Set inside an arch beneath the Holborn Viaduct, this place is the definition of ‘I know a great little place around the corner’. The grand exposed brick situation inside is peak third date material, but they’re opening their more lowkey entrance area from April 12th. Expect cute little wooden tables, nibbles, £5 raclette cheese toasties, and a long changing list of great wines that start at around the £15 mark. You’ll have to email them to book a table (sorry) but that’s an entirely acceptable dose of life admin for the chance of leaning over a tealight candle, and trading film suggestions come golden hour: No I really, really do think Booksmart is like an underdog masterpiece. Top up on the Rioja?
If that’s leaning a touch too #datenight for you and you’re at the mercy of daytime train times, then a good alternative is a grab-and-go situation from London’s coolest mini-chain, BAO. Sure the pandemic gave us crippling anxiety, sadness, and existential dread, but it also gave us the opportunity to pick up fluffy buns and pre-mixed negronis from Bao in Borough Market. Grab a few nibbles, then take a very cute stroll across London Bridge and make a bench overlooking the Thames your personal date spot for a couple of hours. Also, and importantly, there are public toilets in Borough Market, but you can also keep this handy Lockdown Loo website to hand to find more near the river. Because no one can be charming when they desperately need to pee.
In the event that doesn’t take your fancy, you can always lean on the textbook London first date spot, The Queen of Hoxton. It’s a big rooftop situation in Shoreditch complete with wigwams, seasonal fire pits, and top views of east London. Just be aware that the cocktail prices can stack up quickly, so if you’re aiming low-budget, stick to old faithful - the pint.
One more thing Charlotte. I beg of you, please let me know how the date goes. Let me live vicariously. Sincerely hope they don’t have the IRL personality of a green bean. Have fun!