Three of London’s best restaurants to impress this Valentine’s Day
VALENTINE’S DAY SPECIAL | Looking for somewhere to seriously impress that special someone on Valentine’s Day? KRIS GRIFFITHS finds that sometimes it’s worth splashing out a bit extra for the more memorable experience. And he guarantees these three iconic eateries rarely fail to deliver, least of all on 14 February …
252 High Holborn, WC1V 7EN
The aptly-named Pearl is an immense twinkly space sited at a former banking hall, decorated with trails of hand-strung pearls hanging from fittings and chandeliers. Marble columns, walnut tables and a specially-crafted wine cellar, taking pride of place in the dining-room, all combine with the pearly decorations to create maximum ‘wow’ factor.
There’s still a feeling of intimacy though, with subtly lit tables for two tucked away at the sides where you can fully enjoy the artful seasonally-changing French menu with an Asian accent, created by executive chef Jun Tanaka at his signature restaurant.
His trademark five-course tasting menu is a pièce de résistance, preluded with intricate hors d’oeuvres and complemented by highlights of the award-winning wine list featuring 200+ wines from the visible walk-in cellar, at least 40 of which are available by the glass. The service really spoils you and the atmosphere is hushed but humming. Perfect for a seductive splurge!
> Valentine’s Special: an exclusive five-course menu, including a middle course between starter and main, and a pre-dessert. £95 with champagne.
16 Bury Street, SW1Y 6AJ
This prototypical ‘society restaurant’ was one of London’s most famous in its ritzy 1930s heyday, and has cemented its status in more recent decades by welcoming rock stars and royalty down its grand staircases.
Today, it still feels as if one has entered a timeloop when descending the stairs, back to its buzzing halcyon days, soundtracked by a live jazz band playing from the upstairs bar. The dining room itself is pretty dramatic, retaining its grandeur with painted columns, crustacea altars and rich decor colours.
The menu boasts sophisticated bistro classics, fresh oysters from the crustacea counter, and an extensive wine list that can be simplified for your taste by the in-house sommelier. The waiting staff on the whole are attentive while unobtrusive.
For afterwards, the mezzanine-level cocktail bar is a destination in its own right, where from a comfier banquette you can continue imbibing the atmosphere of the restaurant below with your nightcap.
>Valentine’s Special: A bespoke three-course menu offering exceptional value at £55, twinned with a special ‘Love & Lust’ cocktail menu to enhance the mood. A pianist will be gently tinkling throughout the evening.
OXO TOWER BRASSERIE
OXO Tower Wharf, SE1 9PH
London views don’t get much better than the panorama from the tall windows of the riverside OXO Tower, incorporating the City in the East to Westminster at the West, and St Paul’s Cathedral sitting nobly in between. The sounds of understated live jazz nicely harmonize with the sights, with a female vocalist and piano accompaniment enlivening Sunday nights.
Its seasonal menus have a global outlook and are prepared in an impressive open-plan kitchen. Grey-blue contemporary tables in the airy restaurant space further enhance the feeling of dining in the sky – al-fresco on the terrace during the warmer months is definitely something to pencil into your to-do list.
Finally, the service is exemplary: formal but convivial, and expect three or four waiters, each with different jobs, to attend to your table throughout your visit. Resist from delivering any OXO-themed puns though (gravy train, taking stock, etc) as they’ve heard it all before!
>Valentine’s Special: OXO’s Vegas Valentine’s evening certainly sounds entertaining, complete with Vegas ‘wedding chapel’ and a live performance from (Chinese) Elvis himself!
By Kris Griffiths