The hottest Valentine's Day joints in West London.
Have you noticed a change in the wind recently? How the light is getting softer whilst thawing the army of clouds that dissipate above, how your gravy fuelled steps have slowly, day by day, been lighter since Christmas. Or how London seems fuller then ever, and how January is almost certainly 31 weeks long, not 31 days long?
Did you hear the subtle siren call? The biggest, most expensive, unforgiving, stressful day (and night) is nearly upon us; yes, Valentine’s Day is around the corner lads. Brace yourselves for a big one. Now before you tell Cupid to 'do one' whilst fumbling the coins in your pockets, look out for hard hints being dropped into conversation, start to notice the huff and rolling eyes of your partner's best friend, with that knowing cross-armed downward look of disdain - assuming you’ve forgotten what happens on the 14th of February again. "This year will be different I promise," you say, every time.
Don’t be that guy or girl this year, rifling through Oddbins and newsagents for a last minute gift or washed out bouquet. And please don’t even think about suggesting going for the usual takeaway, or trudge to your local curry house only to be underwhelmed and pay through the nose for some ‘lovers meal deal’. Let’s start this year right and put a little effort in, dig deep, but most of all, let’s play it smart.
If it’s all on you this year to plan the perfect evening with your boo, bae or best mate bobby, do not fear. Here’s a list of my favourite date spots in Notting Hill that should help you choose.
Dripping with romantic features, chandeliers, decant Victorian scenes with tables draped in fine cottons and foreign silks, candles upon candles with charcoaled burnt edges that tell more stories than the marina sailor on the weekend. Forget the food you’re here for potent never ending cocktails and to impress your guest.
Prove that you’ve been listening to all the health advise pointed at you every time exhale as you pick up the kids/shopping/cheque. you’ve hunted on Deliveroo for a cheeky meal. This restaurant is perfect I’m pretty much every way, holy and holistic surrounds with a fun menu and brilliant staff, you can’t go wrong.
Upstairs at The Distillery
Homemade, local gin cocktails and Tarantino-esq booths downstairs - delicious small plates from a talented and creative chef upstairs. It’s a movie waiting to happen. Busy in a good way, the clutter and noise of the diners celebrating every new dish they devour will soon be forgotten as you’ll be topsy-turvey after a few 'home-made' Portobello gins, conversation will flow quicker than the excellent cocktails slipping down.
Granger & Co, Westbourne Grove
If you’re looking to go down the cute angle, (firstly, good luck young Skywalker) try to nab a table at this gem on Westbourne grove. The food is always excellent and you’ll be sitting with some of finest troop of ladies and gentlemen you’ll ever see. Be prepared to wait, as the queue to get a walk in seat can sometimes be an hour long in peak times, or get your butler to do the work for you whilst you wait in the car.
Pix Pintxos, Portobello Road
Looking for something a little naughtier then normal, then dip your toes into the sinful pool of Pix. After a few too many espresso martinis ask to visit the priest downstairs to confess your sins. If you’re lucky he could be in, and you could discover one of Notting Hill’s secret bars.
Whether you’re part of the club or not, going to any Soho House for a first date is a dangerous tight rope to test. One toe in the wrong direction, one too many back slaps and fist bumps to the oncoming traffic of creatives could ruin it all. Tread carefully, this ones for the ride or die’s too busy to talk, let alone dine together. Sync your calendars, gotta be back for the kids before 8pm.
Laylow, Golborne Road
Does your partner often deliver you gossip as if it were news directly from the Daily Mail, do you often find yourself reading through Heat magazine whilst you wait at hers to go out? Then this one could be for you. If you can get a table. On the right night you could be rubbing shoulders with the likes of Jagger, Beckham, Ora, or even... you get the picture. Celebrity hot spot that actually is an amazing four floored kazbar of design, culinary treats and delicious story-making cocktails.
Eggbreak, Uxbridge Street
Warning. Closes before seven. The ultimate brunch place in my opinion. Order the chicken burger if you’re scared of avocado. It’s a game changer.
*Family + Date*
Maggie Jones, Kensington Church Street
First time meeting the parents? A little too close to family and can’t shake ‘em off evening? Babysitter bailed? This french restaurant resembles a pre-napoleon cottage hidden just on the first break of Kensington church street. Pots, pans and hay bales swing above your head giving endless gifts of conversation (and games of eyes spy) Plus magnums of house red that they charge you by the use of a measuring stick and large open tables. This is a Sunday favourite and a wild card bet you won’t lose on.
*IN THE KNOW'Y*
Gold, Portobello Road
The Gold, as it should be said, is the place to be seen in as we go into a new decade. Moody, topical, (the new chiseled facade has caused a few whispers) tropical and bountiful in both the beautiful eclectic crowd, but the well-crafted dining experience. Book in advance to avoid disappointment, stay for drinks to get to know the staff to get the best seats for your next round.
The Shed, Palace Garden Terrace
When you know you know. From farm to fork, your date will be so impressed with your knowledge and dazzled by the whole experience, they will no doubt be putty in your hands. Trust me on this one, book in advance it’ll be no doubt be fully booked for this year already.