1 | For The Quintessential Date Night: Portland (above)
Brand new this week – and a model date-night venue – is Portland, which opened on Monday. A light and airy little restaurant on Great Portland Street (see what they did there?), it's run by Will Lander, who brought us The Quality Chop House, and Daniel Morgenthau of 10 Greek Street. As such, one need not doubt the food on offer, which is wonderful, offered at reasonable prices and alongside some brilliant wines.
We suggest trying the duck prosciutto appetizer or the lamb tartare starter with anchovy mayo. To follow, there's rather an impressive six-week aged Angus sirloin steak, and something irresistible about the wild game pithivier with black truffle, made for two to share. Accompanying the small (but perfectly formed) dessert menu are some knockout cheeses. Bottles of wine start at a £21, and all have very helpful, if quirky, descriptions. These guys really love their grapes and so there are some special bottles in-house, too, which are available by the glass if you just want to give them a go. Unfussy but elegant, this place is your new old favourite.
113 Great Portland Street, London, W1W 6QQ; portlandrestaurant.co.uk
2 | For Upping The Date Night Ante: All-In Kitchen
If you’re bored of plain old dinner dates and are partial to a bit of a flutter, then book up for the All-In Kitchen – a night at the tables that won’t end in a domestic if you get overconfident, with supper included in a romantic, mood-lit venue. Over the next two weeks, a free (yes, that’s FREE) ticket will get you a space at the poker table, where you will play a few hands before dinner. If you end up raking in the chips, then your three-course meal will be free. If you do respectably, you will have to pay a fiver for your food, and if luck is just not on your side and you end up empty-handed, then you will have to pay £10 (in total). Not a bad deal, I think you’ll agree.
Poker Stars have teamed up with the brilliant foodies Jones & Sons (of Dalston acclaim) in honour of the UK and Ireland Poker Tour kicking off in London next week. At a pop-up restaurant under the railway arches of Haggerston (and just around the corner from the station), dishes are all suitably themed, including queen scallops, king crab thermidor, three-of-a-kind duck, four-of-a-kind lamb and so on. The cocktails are rather moreish too, so it’s just as well that it’s really only your pride at stake here. Add a dash of excitement to your usual meal out.
19, 20, 21, 26 & 27 January
TripSpace, 339-340 Arches, Acton Mews, London, E8 4DG; book tickets at billetto.co.uk (new batches released daily)
3 | For Dry January Drinks: The Redemption Bar
How’s that dry January going? Cracked yet? Tempted? Not even a little bit? Well, if you have managed to resist the lure of a cool, fresh pint at the end of a hard day’s slog, then good on you, but I’m guessing it hasn’t been easy. So at the halfway mark, there is solace available in the form of the Redemption bar, where you can trick yourself into thinking you’re out for a cheeky cocktail or four, without the guilt of breaking your vow of thirst.
Throughout January, Redemption is in residence at Fairly Square just off High Holborn. There is not a drop of alcohol to be seen but a host of mocktails, dressed up to look like the old favourites. There’s a an Apple Mock-Jito for those keen on their mint and lime, and even a Coco-rita – a margarita-inspired mix of coconut water, lime and avave syrup, complete with salt-rimmed glass to serve. And don’t worry about any sugar come-downs – everything here is achingly healthy, not to mention organic, fair-trade, sustainable and all that jazz, including the food. You must both be bored of staying in by now, right?
2 – 31 January, 12pm – 11pm daily
Redemption @ Fairly Square, 51 Red Lion Street, London, WC1R 4PF; redemptionbar.co.uk
4 | For A Cosy Saturday Night Out: Midnight Apothecary
Once a month to cheer the winter gloom, the Midnight Apothecary sets up shop on the Brunel Museum’s rooftop by the river in Rotherhithe. Measuring out the doses is Lottie Muir, otherwise known as the Cocktail Gardener, who is both a botanist and mixologist, and therefore rather good at creating delicious drinks from foraged herbs and plants. And if they’ve got plants in, they must be good for you, right?
Up on the roof garden, you can sit around a roaring campfire, toasting marshmallows on swizzle sticks as the sun goes down on Saturday evening, with the soft tones of live jazz and blues setting the mood. You should certainly try the Hedgerow Sour, though there is beer on offer as well, and if you get hungry, there is Greek fare available from the guys of I Should Be Souvlaki. Saturday night: sorted.
SEE ALSO – The best 1st date spots in London.