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London’s best second date restaurants, from Bar Crispin to Tamil Prince

Tor to eat or not to eat? This is the question that affects: well, if not the first date, then certainly the second.

A first date should really be in a pub or bar; don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Sure, you can go to a restaurant to try and soak up the alcohol, but going straight to a restaurant for a first date is like committing to a two-hour, non-interval one-man show at the Edinburgh Fringe – no way. outside

The second date, however, is a chance to set the record straight, useful if the salient details of the first date are blurry (you may remember that they said their demon would be a donkey, but not what they do for a living life) . Culinary compatibility is also important to most people, and if there is any agreement based on dinner, it is best learned early on. There is a skill to nailing a second date spot. It should be buzzing, but quiet enough to fill in the blanks of the first date; having the choice to drink, but not being focused on alcohol; and the ideal consists in choosing, sharing food that does not seem too formal. Here are some of the best I’ve found.

The Tamil Prince

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One category of venue that fits neatly into this Venn diagram is the pub that serves food, of which the Tamil Prince is a shining example. Taking over the 19th-century pub on Hemingford Road, it brings together a leafy, affluent Islington street alongside beers, South Indian-inspired cocktails and shareable dishes inspired by the cuisine of Chef Prince’s native Tamil Nadu Durairaj. It’s popular – you’ll need reservations and rub shoulders with foodies eager to add their critically acclaimed food to their grill. But it’s still pussy, with people and combs spilling onto the pavement, weather permitting. The shareable menu of creative and classic dishes makes it perfect for two dining companions testing the waters. And at the very least, it will expose anyone who can’t stand the spices.

115 Hemingford Road, N1 1BZ, thetamilprince.com

Townsend

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Located at the foot of the Whitechapel Gallery, Townsend offers brave lovers the chance to take two tests of compatibility in one place: cuisine and culture. Although the restaurant is a bit more formal than is usually advisable for a second date, the gallery’s fresh, often strange and sometimes comically disconcerting exhibits are enough to facilitate conversation, and over the banquettes and menu of smooth wood and black Townsend leather. seasonal dishes to share, to choose from. Vegetarians are well catered for with tangy salads and tousled mushrooms topped with a golden egg yolk, and all parties will be delighted with the fried rosy firs with garlic mayo. Any last feelings of stiffness can easily be removed by a superbly executed Negroni or the cool staff.

77-82 Whitechapel High Street, E1 7QX, townsendrestaurant.co.uk

Bottle + rye

Emma McGettrick

Another place that falls squarely and squarely into the Venn diagram of perfect second date places is the wine bar that does food, in that exact order. Too often in London, restaurants lure people in under the pretense of being a bar, and then expect everyone to order three courses. Not Bottle + Rye, which describes itself as inspired by Parisian wine bars and follows the model in every respect (apart from the service, which is smiley and bright). You can turn up without a reservation and order one or two of their mostly low-priced intervention wines, or book in advance, order a liter of Austrian country blend and a variety of small plates including smoked eel brandy with pink fir and, above all, the best. anchovy toast in London. The vibe is understated romance, if blackboards, those life-changing anchovies and the lively, messy saws of Brixton Market constitute romance (they do in my book). The bill could reasonably be anywhere from £15 to £100 depending on what you have.

404-406 Market Row, SW9 8LD, bottleandrye.com

Bar Crispin

Carolina Blanca

One for wine lovers, or those looking to impress a wine lover, Bar Crispin’s drinks menu is as cheerful and dynamic as Alex Price, its smiling curator. Formerly of the Draper’s Arms (the north London pub known for its wine list), Price brings together beloved classics from the Loire, Savoy and Jura with bottles from lesser-known regions and grape varieties, and can speak through ‘them with infectious and infectious. intelligible verve. An interest in wine, however, is not a prerequisite. Chef Fabien Spagnolo’s small plates will complement any wine, but can stand alone without it, with punchy flavors and interesting texture combinations (the spiced cucumber with walnut mint yogurt was a highlight) that will elicit exclamations of delight regardless the conversation flows. Meanwhile, the cool, washed-out atmosphere of the gray and white bar is as crisp as its name.

19 Kingly Street, W1B 5PY, barcrispin.com

humble grape

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That the only second date I got at Humble Grape was profoundly average says a lot more about the company than it does about the place, which in theory is a quintessential second place. This is a relaxed wine bar with counter and table seating, a good selection of wines by the glass, a menu that caters to both aperitifs and scoffers, and an engaged staff who will have a good time with diners if needed show them – although he also knows when to let people be. Theme days should be considered, especially for those who suspect their second date is Monday or Tuesday night material: on Monday you can have your bottles at the bar at sale price, and on Tuesday you can try a mini tasting of four wines. for £15, each selected around a different theme; there is a free conversation starter.

All over London, humilgrape.co.uk

Troy Bar

“Needless to say we hit that night; no alcohol, on a second date,” was the opinion of my friend at Troy Bar, which offers live soul, jazz and funk and homemade Caribbean food in an intimate and locally loved bar on Hoxton Street. That said, it’s not really a dry dating site; by contrast, the non-alcoholic list is limited almost exclusively to ginger beer; drinkers are much better served. But what it lacks in options it makes up for with vibrant, value-for-money food: chicken, steamed fish, curried goat and sweet plantain. Then there are those (literally, as it turns out) vibes. On Tuesdays, people will be treated to an open mic session, while those willing to commit to a Friday will be rewarded with legendary jazz-funk jam sessions, where regulars often play their own instruments to join the band talented and welcoming.

10 Hoxton Street, N1 6NG, troybar.co.uk

Lerena

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I could write a dissertation on why counter seats lend themselves to second dates, but I’ll stick to the basics: they’re inherently informal, there’s limited eye contact (ie, no looking at someone while determining their attractiveness) , but everything is fine. Well, there is ample potential to push through the elbows and knees to make the first move. Llerena has plenty of counter seating, in a cozy and deliciously crisp tapas bar that serves a wide range of dishes to choose from. Play it simple with cured meats—Iberico is particularly handsome—and tangy Spanish cheeses, or stick to heartier dishes like arroz negre, croquettes, tortillas and prawns pil pil. In the manner of all great value tapas places, the wine list is short and cheap, the service incredibly friendly and slightly chaotic and there’s never enough room for food, water and wine. A joy

167 Upper Street, N1 1US, llerena.co.uk

Bar Daskal

Greg Funnell

For the unfortunate London date, rarer and more welcome than an oasis in the desert is a bar that welcomes visitors and stays open past 10pm on a Tuesday. Bar Daskal is one such bar and, being in Borough Yards, it’s perfectly located for second dates that are coming off Barrafina or Brindisa, two other excellent tapas restaurants around the corner, and they are not ready to name it yet. one night The drinks menu is exclusively Spanish, which is no bad thing – think vermouths, sherry and interesting wines, expertly sourced by the Hart Brothers, who grew up in Spain and are behind some of London’s best Spanish restaurants. The atmosphere is intimate, softly lit and bustling, even on a Tuesday evening, and there’s also a few slices of ham, cheese and omelettes, for those still peckish or who decide to come to Bar Daskal during their quote (not too bad). shout out).

16 Park Street, SE1 9AB, bardaskal.co.uk

Nine Lives

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If Pinterest made a cocktail bar, it would look a lot like Nine Lives. Hanging tropical plants, wicker furniture, bamboo, brass and velvet – it’s all there. A date would get brownie points for taking me here before even ordering a cocktail, which is executed even more tastefully than the interior design. Every house cocktail is attributed to the bartender behind it, and all the shrubs and infusions are house-made. The lemon song with nine lives of limoncello, elderflower, crémant and soda is particularly forceful. The bar is zero waste and much of the furniture is reclaimed, so even if your date isn’t sustainable, you can be sure the venue is. The food comes in the form of seasonal and sustainably sourced seafood tacos from the acclaimed Tacos Tigre, and is perfect for sharing, as long as you’re comfortable enough for a slightly messy meal.

8 Holyrood Street, SE1 2EL, ninelivesbar.com

Lord Morpeth

Not every second date has to start with a strong drink. Some may start with a walk, pedals or tennis; something to quench your thirst before moving on to the topic at hand. Step up Lord Morpeth – a well-worn and well-loved boozer just off Victoria Park, where you can do all these things before collapsing into one of this pub’s fat leather chairs. The Morpeth is a rare gem that’s been renovated but has retained its old soul: there’s exposed brick, good tunes, chintzy wallpaper, decent cocktails and plenty of local ales. More important than all that, though, is the excellent pizza. The Geezer, with corned beef, pickled cucumbers and sweet mustard sauce, is their signature, but there’s plenty to satisfy traditionalists and, with gluten-free bases and vegan cheese available, any diet. All in all, this is a casual but great place for second daters to decide if a third date is worth it.

402 Old Ford Road, E3 5NR, lordmorpeth.co.uk

renegade

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Made in London and labeled with the names and faces of Londoners, Renegade’s wines are always interesting and often excellent. Generously piled charcuterie and cheese boards are a relaxed yet glamorous way to eat on a date; the bar itself, ramshacklely set up in a railway arch next to Bethnal Green station, is always welcoming, as are the staff. However, for me, the highlight of Renegade has to be the used furniture store next door. Every day, its owners drag old fridges, cupboards and dishwashers into the same small alley where Renegade sits, making access to the bar almost impossible. Every night they take them back. I’ve never seen them sell one. That, plus the eclectic crowd of people and dogs that the aptly named Renegade attracts, makes it an excellent value even if the date goes wrong; and, if it goes well, always a fun place to hang out.

Arch 12 Wales Gardens, E2 0EJ, renegadelondonwine.com