From comfort food and canal cruises to farmers’ market strolls, here are ten date ideas for food lovers to try this autumn.
Combine park and pub – Get your best leaf-crunching boots on, go for a stroll in the park and then take your date for a bite to eat at a nearby pub. If you can find one with a roaring fire, even better. How about an early supper at The Grazing Goat after a walk in Hyde Park? Or Sunday lunch at The Bobbin near Clapham Common? The Bull & Last is an obvious choice if you’re near Hampstead Heath, while The Britannia is a lovely place to refuel after a bit of deer-spotting in Richmond Park.
Embrace comfort food – Goodbye beach body, hello carbs! Use the drop in temperature as an excuse to seek out your favourite comfort food, whether that’s ramen, fried chicken, or just a really good mac ‘n’ cheese. Check out our round-up of London’s most indulgent dishes for inspiration.
Get cosy on a heated terrace – If you’re not ready to say goodbye to al fresco dining, plenty of restaurants have covered terraces with heaters and blankets to keep you warm. You can dine beneath a canopy of flowers at Dalloway Terrace, watch the sunset from Boundary’s weatherproof rooftop orangery, or sip Champagne on the riverside terrace at Le Pont de la Tour.
Upgrade your cinema trip – For your next movie night, skip the local multiplex and seek out one of London’s smaller, sexier cinemas. Pair it with dinner at a nearby restaurant and a second date is in the bag. Who needs popcorn when you could have a pan-Asian feast at E&O near the Electric Cinema? Or an early supper at Bellanger before a movie at Screen on the Green? In the West End, Picturehouse Central is mere moments from Bocca di Lupo and Brasserie Zedel and Curzon Soho is right across the street from Chinatown.
Sample street food under cover – Don’t let the chilly weather get in the way of your street food feasting. Try some of London’s finest street eats at indoor or partially covered markets like Seven Dials Market, Market Halls, Buck Street Market and Hawley Wharf in Camden, and Brick Lane’s Sunday Upmarket. Much of Borough Market is under cover, as is Mercato Metropolitano, a huge Italian food hub near Elephant & Castle with traders selling pasta, pizza, wine, and dishes from around the world.
Cook the books – If you’re stuck inside on a rainy day, why not pick a recipe or two from those cookbooks you’ve been hoarding? It’s much more fun than a takeaway and you can get your date involved with chopping, making dessert, or shaking up a cocktail. Hawksmoor, Dishoom, and The Quality Chop House all have excellent books if you want to recreate your favourite restaurant dishes.
Enjoy aperitivo hour – Finish work a little early and enjoy an early evening aperitivo session at one of London’s top Italian restaurants. Snack on pizzette at The Italian Greyhound, share a few cicchetti at Cecconi’s, or pair prosecco with zucchini fritti at Pizza East. In Soho, you could do a crawl – start with Negronis at Bar Termini, pop into Polpo for a spritz and some crostini, and finish up at Mele e Pere’s subterranean aperitivo bar. Enjoy a £5 Aperol spritz from 3-7pm (Mon-Fri) or pair something from their impression vermouth collection with snacks like crab bruschetta and San Daniele ham.
Learn something new – Why stick to the same old date night formula when you could take a gin tour or master the art of dim sum making? You can learn how to prepare a full Chinese banquet at School of Wok or make fresh pasta with the experts at Eataly. In north London, the Jamie Oliver Cookery School has classes covering everything from pizza and sushi to Mexican street food and South Indian curries.
Cruise the canals – Before it gets too cold, hire a GoBoat from their Paddington pontoon and take a self-driven cruise along the Regent’s Canal. On a leisurely two-hour trip you can enjoy a BYO boat picnic and take in the scenic sights of Little Venice, Regent’s Park, and Camden Lock. (You can also set sail from Canary Wharf and Kingston). If you don’t fancy driving, the London Waterbus will take you from Camden to Little Venice where you can try Persian food at Kateh, seafood at The Summerhouse, or pints and pub grub at The Warwick Castle.
Explore a farmers’ market – Grab your canvas bags and visit your local farmers’ market to stock up on seasonal produce and gourmet goodies that can be transformed into a feast for two. Better yet, visit a market in another part of town, like Marylebone, Brockley or Alexandra Palace. What better way to spend a few hours than strolling hand in hand and filling a bag with delicious things to nibble on?
Have you got any tips for food-themed autumn dates? Let us know in the comments!
Photo Credit: @adddtobasket for Mele e Pere.
Originally published in 2017. Updated October 2021.