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  • 10 Days until Valentines Day
  • Travel Edit

10 Days until Valentines Day

Looking to impress on a first date? Want to celebrate an anniversary in style? Or do you simply want to dine in stunning surroundings? Look no further as we round up some of the capital's most striking and exciting restaurants.

Romantic Meal in the Capital:

Les Trois Garcons is situated in a converted Victorian pub from 1880 in Shoreditch. London’s most extravagant restaurant interior gives the eye no idea where to settle. Inside this former pub is an entire zoo of stuffed and ceramic animals (a lion, a swordfish, an antelope with a tiara…), cascading glass, dangling handbags, giant, unearthly purple flowers and more – all to sustain the mood of ironic, decadent opulence. As a restaurant, you can enjoy inventive modern French cuisine. Wine is suitably sophisticated, and service is professional and charming.  

31_2 The Perfect Date: Where romance is unavoidable…

The exhibition rooms is a modern British restaurant with a smart London take on classic cuisines. The exhibition rooms stands in a prime position on the Victorian Crystal Palace triangle at the top of Upper Norwood Hill, its decor inspired by the colossal glass structure that once dominated the area and held the great exhibition of 1851. In an area fast becoming a foodie mecca, the Exhibition Rooms stands out for the quality of its cooking, the freshness of its seasonal produce, and its attentive but always friendly service. The upstairs dining room with its long bar, leafy plants and polished dark wood floors is an elegant environment to relax over good food. The menu is designed to suit a variety of tastes and all pockets. “We’re as proud of our burger as we are of our chateaubriand.”  

32 Left it too late to book?

Struggling to book somewhere for dinner tonight? You might have to queue but, you can still enjoy great food in the capital without a reservation. Barrafina: If proof is needed that tapas is fashionable, the queues at Barrafina are it. And there will be a queue. Bookings aren’t taken and hopeful diners can expect to wait at least an hour, any evening of the week. The place is part restaurant, part theatre, in which diners play a part. Your role begins the moment you join the line for one of the 20 or so stools around the L-shaped bar. Nibbles and drinks are served as you wait – service is excellent. The chefs, stars of their stage, shout out orders, grill, fry and plate up their creations. Barrafina’s menu is studded with Mallorcan and Catalan tapas dishes, such as juicy, crisp-skinned grilled chicken thighs served with exemplary romesco sauce, and coca mallorquina (Mallorca’s answer to pizza), piled high with spinach and studded with pine nuts and raisins.  

33 Cocktail Bars:

Booking Office - There’s an anguished moment when you walk in and have to decide whether to sit in or out. Inside: Sir George Gilbert Scott’s lofty interior, a stirring example of the Victorian architect’s interpretation of Gothic revival. Outside, under spacious canopies, you have a nearly ceiling-level view of St Pancras International station. The good news is that all anguish will cease as soon as you’ve taken your seat. The cocktail list gives a prominent place to traditional punches, served in mugs. But the list is a long one. Warning: the free bar snacks, coated peanuts, are dangerously addictive.

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