Where To Take Her This Week – 27 November

Our regular guide to impressing your other half on your next night out

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1 | For A Snazzy Weekend Brunch: Ivy Market Grill (above)

New to Covent Garden is The Ivy’s “little sister.” While the original restaurant is notoriously exclusive (the doormen seem to know which taxis contain their diners before the cars have even pulled up), there is nothing quite so scary at The Ivy Market Grill, which has the design, the look, the feel (and the owner) of its older sibling, but neither the hassle nor the expense.

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Reserve or don’t – it’s up to you – and you can combine a day’s activities in Central with brunch, which is especially good (note the buttermilk pancakes with streaky sweet-cured bacon and maple syrup, or the excellent Full English). The large menu caters for everything from breakfast through to post-theatre dining, with fiendish cocktails on the side. The venue comprises a café, restaurant, bar and heated outside terrace, with attentive staff who will keep you contented without faff or intrusion.

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1 Henrietta Street, London, WC2E 8PS; theivymarketgrill.com


2 | For Cheap and Very Cheerful Drinks: Simmons Fitzrovia

For those in the know, Simmons in King’s Cross is the only place for Happy Hour. Where else can you get a gin and tonic for £2.50 from 4pm through ‘til 9pm? Or wine, or beer for that matter. And not in a dive either, but a quirky, chintzy little bar with Seventies wallpaper, old inkwell school desks to sit at and baffling lampshades. Oh, and cocktails served in teapots (naturally).

Simmons is utterly unique and, having opened a Camden branch earlier this year, has just pitched up in Fitzrovia with its biggest site yet. Set over two floors and boasting drinking ‘caves,’ outdoor seating and a late license, this affordable bar is anything but a cop-out date option.

28 Maple Street, London, W1T 6HP; simmonsbar.co.uk


3 | For A Romantic Dinner: 108 Brasserie

Marylebone Village is so romantic by night, you can feel like you're walking through a particularly astringent Richard Curtis movie. It is therefore a no-brainer for dates, and the newly opened 108 Brasserie – a beautiful but unstuffy restaurant serving hearty, local food done with finesse – is a great choice.

Dimmed lighting and red velvet seats warm up the airy space, with charming waiting staff on hand (who actually have senses of humour). Starters are light and dainty, like the Seared Tuna or Octopus Carpaccio, with things getting a bit heftier in the mains which include some excellent pheasant and grouse, both of which are currently in season and served with breadsauce. Puddings are killer. We recommend the Chocolate Fondant in particular – an oozing, melting middle served with peanut butter ice cream that’s perfect for sharing (if you can).

108 Marylebone Lane, London, W1U 2QE; 108brasserie.com


4 | For That Something Different: Wine Car Boot

And now for something completely different (although we really hope it catches on). How about a car boot sale that sells only wine? It really is a thing.

This Friday, independent wine merchants will congregate in Old Spitalfields Market, each selling their boozy wares (oft improved with age, counter to the usual boot fair tat). Esquire favourites Berry Bros & Rudd will join the likes of Vagabond (London’s ‘oyster card’ wine masters), Vinoteca (owners of bloody good wine bars), Bedales and Uncorked, among others. They will offer tasters and bottles from the backs of their cars and vans. Sustenance comes in the form of lobster rolls and Mac ’n’ Cheese from the mighty BOB’s Lobster, or raclettes from Androuet.

Tickets cost £10 and get you entry, five free samples, a glass to drink with and a wine bottle carrier for your shopping. With Christmas coming up, there’s one excuse. It being on a Friday is another. If you’re really struggling this week, the first session runs from 2-6pm but it does run until 10pm for the more conscientious workers among you.

Game-changer alert.

28th November; winecarboot.com
Old Spitalfields Market, 16 Horner Square, London, E1 6EW