1 | For A First Date: The Palomar
The Palomar is in a lesser-trod corner of Soho and, since opening a few months back, has swiftly become something of a badly-kept secret. Still, not everyone knows about it yet, so this is your chance to show off the fact you're in the know and earn some valuable first-date kudos.
The food hails from Jerusalem, with rich Middle-Eastern flavours done in a modern style. The restaurant is small, intimate and yet very buzzy, and has a huge bar at the front, which is where you want to be sitting – the chefs work behind it and are friendly, chatty types with a nice bit of banter. But not too much, mind. So if you don’t quite know how your own conversation’s going to pan out, it’s good to have a back-up standing nearby – nothing’s worse than that deathly awkward silence.
The Palomar, 34 Rupert Street, London, W1D 6DN. thepalomar.co.uk
2 | For A 'Quirky' Option: Tincan London
Tin cans have a bit of a bad rep. They stand reminiscent of suspicious-looking tuna that smells like cat food. So you’re probably not going to jump at the chance to dine in a restaurant serving food solely from these little containers. But wait. Elsewhere in the world, tinned food is not regarded with quite such disdain, and tin cans are actually a very good way of storing fresh produce, like fish. The people behind Tincan London purport to serve the best tinned fish you’ll ever have and change all of our preconceptions.
Cod liver, octopus, scallops, cockles and all sorts of seafood are being served up for the next 6 months at a quirky pop-up in Soho, with tins adorning the walls, light fittings and you name it. You get bread and oil, and little accompaniments with everything, and you can wash it down with a glass of wine, too.
The project has been set up by an architectural company and opened as part of London Design Week, so it ticks the arty box as well as the culinary one. At the very least, it’s a talking point, and you don’t get that at the local Pizza Express.
FYI, it’s closed on Sundays.
3 | For A Sunday Date: A Mooch Around Greenwich
[Image featured is this year's winner 'Aurora over a Glacier Lagoon’ by James Woodend]
If you mosey down to Greenwich this weekend, there is rather a spectacular exhibition on at The Royal Observatory, completely free of charge. You don’t even have to know anything about photography for this one as it’s showcasing the winning pictures from The Astronomy Photographer of the Year award, the results of which are announced today. You’ll simply be mesmerized by a breath-taking assortment of auroras, nebulas, solar eclipses and swirling gasses.
It would tie in perfectly with a long lunch at one of Greenwich’s many pubs; The Greenwich Union, for one, is very close by and happens to have an extensive list of beers to peruse.
For extra points, why not get a Thames river boat down to Greenwich Pier as your mode of transport? Weekends are meant to be enjoyed, after all. You can use your Oyster, buy a coffee on board, and it definitely beats the tube.
Astronomy Centre, Royal Observatory Greenwich. 18 September 2014 – 22 February 2015. Open every day, 10.00 – 17.00. rmg.co.uk/astrophoto
4 | For Impressing Without Showing Off: Sager + Wilde
The Sager + Wilde wine bar on the Hackney Road has become East London’s destination for those that know their wines (and those who just really like it), but it’s so small that getting a seat is a nightmare. Luckily, its owners have opened a second, bigger one under the railway arches of Bethnal Green.
The extensive wine list features exclusively Californian wines, including Sager + Wilde’s very own Pinot Noir, and prices range from the exceedingly affordable to the somewhat eyebrow-raising, depending on how flush you’re feeling.
Whilst food at the original venue plays a distinct second fiddle to the booze, Mission has employed chef James De Jong, who serves up amazing Californian-slash-Italian dishes that range from small plates upwards. The dulce de leche cheesecake comes highly recommended.
Though there is a private dining mezzanine level overlooking everyone else, the rest of the space is a lovely and relaxed, where you can linger over absolutely top-notch wines. If you know what you’re talking about, this an excellent opportunity to show off whilst not looking like you’ve tried too hard.
250 Paradise Row, London, E2 9LE. 0207 613 0478. sagerandwilde.com