Say the words ‘Valentine’s Day’ to a hundred people and you’ll get a hundred different scenarios for the perfect way to celebrate. For some, cosiness and flowers and French food add up to the best Valentines meal. For others, style and glamour and sophistication are essential. For still others, water views or dancing or exotic food or a celebrity at the next table are ingredients that go into making a really top drawer Valentine supper. There’s always some detail that is the X Factor, personal to each couple. What’s yours?
Maybe you’ve been seeing someone for a while and you want to use Valentine’s Day to let them know they’re actually quite special. Booking a restaurant with Wow Factor could be the X Factor that gets your message across. The grand hotel dining rooms are great choices for impressive rooms, sensuous cuisine and slick, professional service and there are some superb choices out there right now.
We’ve mentioned Roux at The Landau in London recently for the beauty of its setting, the excellence of its modern French food and the fine service. You toptable diners have also mentioned the high quality of the advice from the sommelier more than once. Your beloved is unlikely to have dined at Roux at The Landau yet because it was only taken over by Roux father and son about six weeks ago. Could be a massive hit for Valentine’s Day.
But if you and your loved one enjoy edgier style, then booking Galvin La Chapelle in London’s Spitalfields will hit the mark. It’s a transformed Victorian hall of highly modern design. Giles Coren, the flouncy Times restaurant critic, described it as ‘operatic’ and chose it for his wedding breakfast. Both Tatler and the AA voted it restaurant of the year for 2010. The cuisine is brilliant, up-to-the-minute French and the ambience is exciting. Sound like you?
Here’s a test: the spaghetti-eating scene from Lady and The Tramp. Did the thought of it make you just sigh with delight? Then you are clearly a Classic Romantic type and your Valentine’s Day X Factor will involve romantic details on a grand scale.
toptable diners have adored Clos Maggiore in Covent Garden for years for its warm and friendly ambience, the way it suggests a country inn in Provence, the fine wine list and the excellent French-style modern European cuisine. If you want to get a seat in the conservatory area, though, book right this minute and make a specific request.
If you’re headed out of town or have the great good fortune to live in the West Country, Gidleigh Park in Devon won the toptable diners’ Best for Romance award last year and it’s no mystery why: great rolling estate on the banks of the River Teign, small country house, flowers, panelling, Michelin-starred food, great wines, sublime service. Peace, quiet, leafiness. Oh, and there’s a cracking hotel attached.
It may be a design flaw of Valentine’s Day that it occurs in February when the chances of a hand-in-hand stroll along green paths is unlikely at best, but if you want to surround your darling with orchids and greenery may we recommend The Blue Elephant in Fulham? It is often full of cheery, noisy groups but on Valentines the tables for two prevail and suddenly the gorgeous indoor garden, the golden barge, the arched bridge over the koi pond all conspire to create a romantic Eden for the two of you. And the Thai food’s spices are a sensual treat.
Celebrities, we mean. If your amour is starstruck, then booking a restaurant with a history of celebrity clientele increases the star-spotting potential and who knows, a film familiar or telly star may appear to make the evening complete. Celebrities are unpredictable and fascinating creatures, so tread carefully, be discreet and don’t interrupt their mating habits.
The Bombay Brasserie in London, SW7, has attracted a steady stream of A-listers over the nearly thirty years it’s been serving the public. A recent makeover has brightened the space but left the beloved menu intact. Even if the stars don’t shine, the superb Indian cuisine certainly will.
The Collection in South Kensington will make you feel like a celebrity as you make your entrance along the 80 foot long, underlit catwalk. But there have also been serious celebs here from time to time and the pan-Asian cuisine is super too. A lovely space that makes a great backdrop for your love.
Kennington Tandoori, just over the river from Parliament, is a relaxed haunt of politicos, so if your loved one is a government junkie, then this might be the spot to make their heart go pittypat. On the other hand, the MPs and their ilk may be out somewhere else with their own partners to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Tricky, this celebrity-spotting lark.
As Jamie Oliver is a star in his own right, he has a posse of celebrity friends who like to support his excellent Fifteen restaurant, the charitable spot where young homeless and unemployed people learn the restaurant trade and are launched into new careers. And even if you don’t spot a celeb here, you’ll have a great evening with super cuisine and a conscience so clear you could see right through it.
‘Love lifts us up where we belong’ is your theme song. How about penthouse level dining with the whole world laid at his or her feet? Sound like your kind of Valentine’s Day?
Coq d’Argent at No 1 Poultry in the City of London is just the ticket. The amazing wine list and celebrated modern European cuisine make this more than a big window restaurant, though, and the whole experience will be super.
Galvin at Windows soars 28 floors above London’s Park Lane and the views would be enough to entice most people at least once, but the Michelin-starred cuisine, blistering wine list and smooth service come together to create an epic meal out.
He or she is a work of art. So mark the day of love with a visit to Portrait Restaurant and Bar perched atop the National Portrait Gallery with views over Trafalgar Square and the spires of Westminster. This top diner-rated restaurant scores high for excellent British cuisine and an overall arty vibe.
Of course, we have hundreds of restaurants that are perfect for different sorts of Valentine’s Day celebrations. Check out our dedicated Valentine’s Day page or give our team a ring on 020 7299 2949 and let them play Cupid to your Valentine dreams.