Whoever said that ‘three is a magic number’ has obviously never had to sit at a two-man table with a couple who are recreating that iconic scene from Lady and the Tramp with their own saliva. You see, venturing out for dinner with a couple is no easy feat. Too much candlelight and merlot and suddenly you’ve got dinner and a show on your hands. On the other hand, too loud or too brash and you can’t even hear your coupled up pals.
Whether you’re heading out with a couple who are celebrating some big news, or meeting your best mate’s new partner for the first time, we’ve got you covered.
Where to Go When You Don’t Want Anyone to Know You’re the Third Wheel
Nobody ever questions the dynamics of three people at a pub. They’ll just assume you’re three mates having a pint. Or, we don’t know, planning a train robbery. The food here is solid gastropub fare, from beef short rib to an excellent Sunday roast. You’ll remain incognito as ‘the single one’ with the added bonus of not having to share the sticky toffee pudding. Golden.
Where to Go With the Couple That Are Addicted to Public Displays of Affection
You genuinely might have to write up a cease and desist with this pair for getting handsy. Yes, you get it, they’re full of love, or oxytocin, or something, but this whole acting like a couple of teenagers in heat thing is starting to get to you. The good news is, this Clapton spot has enough room to create a little space between the lovebirds (feral limpets), whilst you keep their mouths busy with lamb pot-stickers. Plus, we’re pretty sure no one has ever managed to look sexy, or get sexy, whilst eating sticky ribs. They’re a must order here.
Where To Go With the Couple That Relies On Your Tragic Dating Life For Entertainment
When you’re mentally preparing yourself for a good portion of the evening to revolve around your happily loved up friends criticising your Hinge profile under the guise of “tough love”, knowing that you’re going to be eating Hafez’s excellent dips can soften the blow. Because while they pick apart your photo choices, you can pick apart the freshly baked taftoon bread. This Persian spot on Hereford Road, has a starter section filled with things like a smokey kashk-e bademjan, refreshing mast o khair, and a salad-e olivieh that you should scoop up with warm bread while they’re busy ‘tweaking’ your profile. The mains here are also great, so get a bunch of their grilled meats, and ask for the table for three by the front, so no-one will know who the third wheel is.
Where to Go With a Couple When You Want to Be in One Too
You were 99% certain that love was dead, but your newly coupled up mates actually make it look like something you could get involved in. Free affection and a fellow human to fill the void? Sign us up. The Prince, a big, market-style spot in Earl’s Court, will make your favourite couple feel like they’re in a romantic, flower-clad woodland, and, importantly, there will be approximately 150 other people for you to flirt with over on-tap cocktails. If no one takes your fancy, there’s burgers by Patty And Bun, and the three of you can chill on a daybed whilst checking out the top view of London.
Where to Go With the Couple That Are Celebrating
Whether it’s a birthday, promotion, or they’re just really excited that they finally have someone to share a single Amazon Prime account with, it’s time to celebrate. The German Gymnasium is a big, grand brasserie in King’s Cross with high ceilings and lots of plush pink seating. Toast to the happy couple at the meister bar with a Der Berliner cocktail, and then all three of you can head for a table and get involved in chicken schnitzel and some serious currywurst.
Where to Go When You’re Actually Genuinely Happy That They’re Loved Up
Your mate’s dating history reads like a Noah’s Ark of dickheads. Finally, finally, they’ve met a keeper and it’s time to head to Gokyuzu for a proper meal where they can bask in the joy of deleting their Tinder profiles, whilst you eat some manti and bask in the fact that you no longer need to be on standby for imminent heartbreak. This all-day, late-night Turkish spot in Harringay is pretty much perfect for any situation you throw at it, but thanks to the mezze platters, it’s especially good for sharing with your new group of three. Basically, Gokyuzu is a great place for celebrating all that is well in the world, whilst also, importantly, dipping some bread in a whole lot of cacik.
Where to Go When You’re Meeting Your Friend’s New Partner for the First Time, and You Need Them to Like You
The stakes are high. If this meal goes well you could have a new best friend on your hands. If it goes badly, you can kiss your mate goodbye and look forward to receiving an awkward happy birthday message on Facebook once a year. Take them both to Bright, a cool but grown-up restaurant and wine bar in London Fields for their short, sweet, and always changing menu that usually has some excellent snacks, a couple of great pastas, and a must-order sando going on. They’ll love you for bringing them here, mostly because you’re great, but also because you’re the person that introduced them to one of London’s best restaurants.
Where to Go With a Twosome When You Only Like One of Them
Your pal has brought a nightmare into your life, but seeing as you can’t avoid them for eternity, you might as well take the dinner opportunity to head to Little Georgia for a round of khachapuri, and some other great Georgian food. There’s a fun atmosphere, and there’s usually enough people to dilute the noise of your mate’s partner droning on about something they heard on LBC.
Where To Go With the Couple Who Always Try To Turn It Into A Surprise Double Date
You knew something was up at around the third ‘wear something nice’ text reminder your mate sent you, and while you’re grateful they’re more invested in you finding someone than your nan, you now need to actually make an effort. Or do you? Bring the scheming couple and their not-so-surprise guest to the Cadogan Arms and let this jaw-dropping refurbished Chelsea pub make all the effort for you. It’s laidback, it’s got a fireplace, and there’s a rhubarb trifle you can take home if the double date doesn’t work out.
Where to Go With the Couple You’re Really Jealous Of
They’re both under 30, have miraculously gotten a mortgage together in London, look like they stepped out of an advert for The Kooples, and apparently they still get sexy on weekdays. Honestly, just get a booking for three at Burro e Salvia. This place is pretty chill, but very cool, and it’s hard to be jealous of anyone when you’re eating pasta this good. Plus, it doesn’t matter if you’re a bit jealous that they’re going home together, because you’re going to be leaving with a parcel of handmade pasta to cook at home. It will definitely soften the blow.
Where to Go With the Couple That Isn’t a Couple Quite Yet
You’ve noticed the glances. The subtle flirting. The way they conveniently went to the cinema on that evening no one else was free. Interesting. Very interesting. Take them to Llerena. At first glance, this small, simple tapas restaurant on Upper Street might not seem like the perfect place to get sparks flying, but it is. Here, the romance sort of sneaks up on you, one moment you’re having a laugh twirling breadsticks in gooey ewe’s cheese, the next you’re leaning in over a fresh bottle of wine while fighting over the last of the oxtail croquettes. Feign a headache after you’ve tried the blood sausages, and let Llerena and the churro sharing do the rest.
Where to Go With the Couple That Hate Each Other
This couple is a cautionary tale against marrying young. You still love them both. Kind of. But this dinner could easily end in another game of ‘let’s publicly discuss each other’s failures’. How fun! Smokestak in Shoreditch is a pretty safe space to take a couple who despise each other - especially as the noise of the big, buzzing open kitchen will cover the sound of any bickering. This loud and proud BBQ spot serves a truly banging brisket bun, pork ribs, and a sticky toffee pudding that’ll even make Sid and Nancy keep it civil for five minutes whilst you get acquainted with the blackcurrant negroni. Ain’t love grand?
Where to Go With the Very Earth Conscious Couple
Your mate that you once saw eat an entire bucket of wings in under four minutes to win an adult bib that said ‘winner, winner chicken dinner’ met their match. Apparently they’re now very happy, and very vegetarian. Rovi in Fitzrovia does serve meat, but they’re doing some pretty mind-blowing things with vegetables too. Sure, you could still go for the onglet skewers whilst they get the hot tomatoes and corn ribs, but, honestly, if you don’t all get the celeriac shawarma, you’re missing out.
Where to Go When They Have Big News
You knew it. You fucking knew it. Two months back you told everyone that they’d be engaged, or pregnant, or both, within the year, and now you’ve received the ambiguous ‘we’ve got some special news to share with you’ text. Just go ahead and book Noble Rot. Seriously, this restaurant and wine bar is the kind of place you want as the backdrop to any and all significant life moments. It’s a lovely place to spend a couple of hours, or an entire day, and feels celebratory without being a full-blown party restaurant.
Where to Go When You Really Need Them Not to Break Up
There you were blabbing on about how your mate would be so much better off without that idiot that claimed they forgot their birthday because ‘time is a construct’. But that was before you realised that you can’t afford rent if one of them moves out. Right. You need wine, you need candlelight, you need Lady Of The Grapes. This wine-bar in Covent Garden is the poor man’s trip to Paris. It’s romantic, the cheese is excellent, and you’ll have a lovely time eating charcuterie and sipping on Bordeaux whilst playing mediator.