Where To Go For Your Ill-Fated Summer Romance
Here are the restaurants to utilise for your summer romance that will inevitably end in disaster.
Summer is an exceptional time of year to fall in love. Your skin is great, the sun is shining, London’s array of feral pigeons are somewhat delicately cooing in the background. Sadly, that also means that during the summer you can pretty much fall in love with anything and anyone. A bonsai tree, an apathetic lifeguard, an entirely decrepit flat whose only redeeming feature is a small suntrap communal terrace. Yes, real relationships start in the winter, when your skin is shit, the weather is apocalyptic, and you really just want someone kind who understands which t-shirts should go on a cold wash. But summer, the summer is for the dreamers, the romantics, all the people who are willing to make bad decisions based entirely on a brief spike in vitamin D.
So seeing as you’re probably going to decide you’re in love with someone who might, maybe, be entirely wrong for you, you might as well do it in style. Here’s to summer love, romantic restaurants, and many, many strong negronis.
The First Date
££££3 Greek St, Soho
Whether you’re meeting someone from Hinge or a nice Uber driver who you asked out after four glasses of wine and a questionable logic that both hating the North Circular showed clear romantic potential, there’s a high likelihood that right now you feel like a large kangaroo is hopping around your abdomen. Introducing our good first date friend, whisky. Get you, your anxiety, and your date down to Milroy’s in Soho, an old-school whisky shop on Greek Street. Start things off low-key with a couple of cocktails out on their pavement seating and progress to their moody little basement bar hidden behind a bookcase in the shop.
Obviously feel free to rinse and repeat this stage until you locate the lucky human who gets to be your only (well, ‘primary’) kissing partner for the next few months.
The Second Date
Royale @ East London Liquor Company
It’s so nice meeting up with a prospective partner without the feeling that faking your own death is a good shout, isn’t it? When you’re feeling something that could quite possibly be hope, make a booking at East London Liquor Co. A whisky and gin distillery in Bow Wharf, this industrial look bar has huge date potential. It’s a distillery so you can do the maths on how good the cocktails are and rotisserie chicken specialists Royale are providing scotch bonnet sauces, crispy potatoes, and great little snacky items. Basically, it’s the ideal place for a couple of martinis to turn into a full-blown meal complete with a side of PDA.
The 'Wink Wink Nudge Nudge' Third Date
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The Winemakers Club
Alright so technically they came back to yours at the end of the second date because ‘they needed to charge their phone’. Blame summer, with all its glorious horny sunshine and the fact that you’re always more likely to get it on with someone if you don’t have to face peeling a pair of skinny jeans off in front of them. But in the interest of keeping those sparks flying, we’d like to introduce you to The Winemaker’s Club. This is undeniably a wine bar that promotes serious flirting, thanks to its candlelit setting in a series of old arches under Holborn Viaduct. Cue feeding each other cheese and maybe—deep breaths—a little hand holding while you make your way through a top bottle of Bordeaux once the sun has set.
The 'I Actually Quite Like You' Date
They like David Bowie! And you like David Bowie! Sure, technically he is one of the most popular artists of all time but you also get the same quilted brand of luxury bog roll so really, you could be like, the perfect match? Around this point you’re probably going to be feeling more comfortable and chilled around your date (LOVE OF YOUR LIFE???), so you can forgo super-formal restaurants and opt for a lazy Saturday afternoon of eating lamb tacos and wiping birria consommé off each other’s chins. Bake Street near Stoke Newington is the place to do just that, although please note that people travel far and wide to hit up their legendary brunch menu. Luckily you can also get things to takeaway, so feel free to make a nice bench in nearby Hackney Downs park your date spot instead.
The Romance on Steroids Moment
Ah, the height of the affair. It’s around this point you start sending messages like ‘I’m hungover, can u come over and stroke my forehead? Bring the San Pelly I like please’ and staying over at theirs. Partially because they have a Dyson fan but mostly because you think they look really cute when they, like, breathe. Bask in the glory of your hot summer union at the best alfresco table in London—Noble Rot’s limited but entirely magnificent terrace seating, looking out on to Lamb’s Conduit Street. You’ll need to call ahead to reserve one of their two coveted outdoor tables but it’s worth it when you’re ready to fall in love… with Noble Rot’s bread.
The Cute Couple Day Out
You and your beloved—herein named The Lovebirds—no longer need the sweet silly distraction of a menu or an emergency exit. No, you’re above all that now. You’ve moved onto talking about ‘the real stuff’, namely whether it’s too soon to get a dog together. The answer to that is, of course, yes but in our humble opinion it’s not too soon for your first faux ‘vacation’. Head to Richmond for deer-spotting, sweet strolls in the sunshine, and lunch at Cue Point. Expect a 10/10 brisket bun, beer on tap, picnic benches, and your first appearance on their Instagram stories just so you can prove to everyone that you’re properly loved up. Or sunburnt. Either or.
The First Time You Realise You Might Actually Hate Them
It’s pissing it down and out of nowhere the ick creeps up and taps you on the shoulder. After all, you do really like making out in Victoria Park when it’s 30 degrees but lately you have started to question whether they really are just following those Jeremy Clarkson stan accounts on Instagram purely ‘for the lols’. Next time the sun once again graces you with its presence, head to Villa Mamas. A Bahraini spot 10 minutes from Sloane Square, this place is the ultimate litmus test for the success of a ‘relationship’ which might solely rest on your obsession with Solar Power by Lorde. Sit on the terrace, eat a lot of hummus, and fuck it, enjoy having someone kiss your forehead while you’re wearing Birkenstocks.
The Rescue the Romance Date
Well & Bucket
On the one hand, the sound of their voice makes you want to stuff your ears with Mini Milks. On the other hand, it’s mid-summer and it’s now scientifically proven that incredibly good-looking people will get with someone like Matt Hancock if they’re wearing the right pair of Ray Bans. In the interest of resurrecting your iconic pairing it’s time to bring out the big guns. And by ‘the big guns’, we do of course mean oysters. Well and Bucket is a neighbourhood pub in Shoreditch that has a great back garden where you can eat affordable oysters and mentally recite all the reasons that you definitely aren’t going to break up with them. If all of the reasons are ‘so I don’t have to go to my mate’s BBQ alone’, that’s OK too.
The Inevitable Demise
Allpress Espresso Roastery & Cafe
Well you had a good run. Thanks to your incessant Love Island viewing, you’ve convinced yourself that it’s physically impossible to dump someone if you’re not in close proximity to an OTT fire pit. Let us assure you that that’s simply not true. Might we suggest Allpress Dalston’s lovely patio to cushion the blow. A two-storey coffee shop (read as: many witnesses), they serve excellent iced coffee and there’s enough foliage to make it feel like you’re doing this in the classiest way possible. Here’s to good coffee. Here’s to solitude. And here’s hoping they don’t change their Disney Plus log-in.
The Reflective Moment
You’ve muted them on Instagram. You’ve accepted that you’re never getting your factor 50 back from their bedroom. And you’ve almost entirely blocked all of the bad things you did together in London Fields Lido from your mind. Healing—and convenient memory loss—is a beautiful thing. So is ice cream and we have it on good authority that eating Gelupo’s ricotta and sour cherry gelato alone on the bench out front while listening to Phoebe Bridgers, is very cost-effective therapy. Repeat after us: it’s better to have loved and lost than to have never had the opportunity to eat London’s best gelato solo in the sunshine while you send your mates cat memes. Truly the greatest love of all.