1 | For A Date With Atmostphere: Old Tom and English (above)
Are you sick of this blasted “No Reservations” trend wafting through London’s eateries? Freezing your arse off in a queue just to be considered for a table; not being able to tell your companion where to meet you for (the very real) fear of being turned away and losing any semblance of nonchalance; having to come up with umpteen back-ups for every place you set your heart on? Thought so. Spontaneity can be a riot, but not when it’s enforced. And not when you’re trying to impress.
So Old Tom & English are staging a protest, and it’s reservations only at this new underground restaurant in Soho. Yes, you have to book but no, it’s not annoyingly exclusive.
Ring the doorbell at a discreet wooden door and you will be escorted downstairs to your table, which could be in one of the hidden booths. It’s warm and cosy but oozes something rather cool, too, with amazing detail put into the design and very moody lighting. The menu comprises small plates and it’s just as well, as picking between them is a challenge. You can have a full meal, or just snack away on things like deep dried popcorn cockles. The bar serves a mean Gimlet and takes great pride in its cocktails, which are made with astonishing care. Relaxed, romantic and a little bit trendy, this is the quintessential date-night destination.
Monday – Thursday 5.30pm – 11.30pm
Friday, Saturday 5.30pm – Midnight
Closed on Sundays
187B Wardour Street, W1F 8ZB
2 | For Wining And Dining: Ristorante Frescobaldi
The Frescobaldi family is one of Italy’s two largest, and most influential, winemaking dynasties, with vineyards dating back to the Fourteenth Century. And with their first permanent restaurant in this country, they are bringing a taste of Tuscany to Mayfair. Set back from the flurry of Regent Street in the quiet of Burlington Place, you will get good, solid but beautifully done Italian food – and wine, of course – at Ristorante Frescobaldi, which opened last week.
Unsurprisingly, the wine list is epic (and by no means exclusively from the Frescobaldi estate) but if you’re stunned by the choice, you can order trios of sample-sized glasses to see what you fancy. The menu is incredibly traditional, and thus done exceedingly well, but they’ve played around with their deserts a teensy bit (the take on Tiramisù is light as air, and will be gone in a flash). Though it might be a bit Mayfair-ish, prices aren’t too crazy and service is delightful – go here for a ‘nice’ dinner midweek.
15 New Burlington Place, London, W1S 2HX
3 | For A Quirky Night Out: Churchill’s Birthday Late
Next week would have been Winston Churchill’s 140th birthday and, to celebrate, you can have a night-at-the-museum with knobs on. The Churchill War Rooms – the underground maze of rooms that Churchill and his cabinet used during the Blitz – are one of London’s most fascinating attractions, and well worth a visit in their own right. But for one night only, you can party through them with champagne flowing (Churchill’s favourite type, obviously), a silent disco (mixing swing with pop) and a photo booth complete with props (because, well, you know). And you’ll leave with a goody bag.
This is just something a bit different, and museums are always far more fun after hours. If by the end of it you’re all danced-out, then we suggest mosying up Whitehall to the Equus Bar at The Royal Horseguards Hotel (where the man himself used to stay). They have a signature Churchill cocktail containing tobacco-infused bourbon, and cigar smoke bellowed into the glass. When in Rome…
7pm – 10pm, 27 November; tickets £17.50
Clive Steps, King Charles Street, London SW1A 2AQ
4 | For A Foodie Weekend Dawdle: Taste of London Winter
Everybody’s heard of Taste of London, but did you know about the winter version? Don’t worry – this year, they have a Fire Pit to warm things up (with chefs barbequing away on it). Being slightly lesser known, this foodie festival is far more manageable than the Regent’s Park scrum, but has equally great chefs on board. From Raymond Blanc and Michel Roux Jr., to Chiltern Firehouse’s Nuno Mendes and our very own Mark Hix, there is a lot to do – and to eat – all weekend.
In particular, Gü’s Garden of Tempation promises too many sweet chocolatey treats to refuse, much like Cocktails at Home, where you can make your own drinks under the watchful eye of master bartenders. Also, there are join-in masterclasses on a first-come, first-served basis, called the Electrolux Chefs’ Secrets; Club Gascon’s Pascal Aussignac is on at 4pm, Saturday. This is pretty much what weekends were made for.
Tobacco Dock, 50 Porters Walk, Wapping, London, E1W 2SF