1 | For A Ridiculously Romantic Wine Bar: Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels (above)
Nestled in Neal’s Yard, in the heart of Covent Garden, is a little wine bar packing quite the punch. Aside from being ridiculously romantic, it’s not on absolutely everybody’s radar yet, making it the perfect spot for a quiet date – and one completely brimming with good wine.
Low ceilings, tiled walls and velvet armchairs are lit by candlelight, with attentive staff able to recommend precisely the grape for your mood from their tome of a wine list. The head sommelier is a startlingly young Parisian with a story for every glass or bottle, should you want it. And you needn’t be afraid to say what sort of things you do or don’t like – they’re not stuffy here. The food is very much there to accompany the wine, which it does with aplomb – delicious French tapas-style dishes full of flavour but dainty and subtle enough not to threaten the all-important drink. One not to be missed is the Posh Madame – a traditional croque madame (cheese and ham toastie with a fried egg on top, in case you’re not acquainted) but made with truffle ham and quail’s egg. You’ll forget you’re not really in Paris.
8-10 Neal’s Yard, London, WC2H 9DP; cvssevendials.com
2 | For A Murder Mystery Pop-Up: Marco’s Meatballs
From now until 8 March, The Vault Festival is running in Waterloo, making the most of the atmospheric tunnels under the railway arches with a busy programme of music, theatre and immersive thingamyjigs. The in-house restaurant comes courtesy of Forza Win, who are known for their epic Italian pop-ups, and have just got a new, permanent dwelling in Peckham.
Marco’s is a murder mystery restaurant with a whiff of Goodfellas – turns out Uncle Toni has kicked the bucket and questions need to be answered, adding a dash of drama to your dinner. There are various sittings each night, and the price of your ticket (a highly palatable £15) will get you a hearty plate of spaghetti and meatballs, and a glass of red to wash it down. Just in case conversation is waning, this will be a bit of fun…
28th January – 8th March; vaultfestival.com/food/
3 | For Cheap and Very Cheerful Cocktails: The Cocktail Trading Company
Brand new to Oxford Circus is The Cocktail Trading Company. Set up by three bartenders who pretty much just want to play about with boozy creations, it is a fun basement bar with an ever-changing cocktail menu. And if nothing on it takes your fancy, they’re very good at conjuring drinks up based entirely on your whims. So, you don’t have much of an excuse to be grumpy about it, especially since nothing’s too pricy, either.
Make your way downstairs from Central & Co restaurant and through a velvet curtain, to find a giant picture of Churchill hanging by the bar, a piano, sketches of legends real and fictional (from Sean Connery to Columbo), and general bar equipment dotted about. Currently on the menu is the Scouts Honour, which comes with toasted marshmallows, the Sauvignon Private Ryan with a rations can full of party treats, and the 欢迎到肯塔基州 served in a takeaway noodle pot (if you ask for a Sexy Dolphin, they’ll know what you mean).
The Basement, 22 Great Marlborough Street, London, W1F 7HU; thecocktailtradingco.co.uk
4 | For Early Birds In Need Of A Treat: Brew, Putney
This just so happens to be National Breakfast Week, so you have until the weekend to do it justice. Handy then that Brew in Putney, which opened late last year, does an all-out ‘breakfast in bed’ service – one to impress with if you feel like treating your other half for the most important meal of the day.
On the terrace are a set of Bedouin-style beds for you to book, which come with a private waiter and a bottle of Bollinger. You’ll be kept nice and toasty by outdoor heaters, fire-pits and blankets to snuggle under, making this breakfast an occasion in itself. As well as the classic blueberry pancakes, the Turkish eggs with a kick of chilli go down very well, and there’s a treacle-cured bacon sandwich served with tomato jam that’s rather hard to resist, too.
162 – 164 Lower Richmond Road, London, SW15 1LY; brew-cafe.com