February is approaching fast, and for those of you in a couple and looking to impress, so is the decision of what to do for Valentine’s Day. It can be a great excuse to do something special that you’ll remember – forget roses and cheesy piano music, why not go to a venue that is memorable (even if your companion isn’t)?
Opulent Sarastro packs the romance and gusto of opera into its gold and red interior, crammed with curious objects. Dine below ten opera boxes in differing styles, along with brash, erotic artwork and regular singing performances. Situated on Drury Lane in the heart of theatre land, Sarastro is a popular pre-theatre dining spot. The food has a Mediterranean theme and there’s a three-course Valentine’s menu for £35 a head.
Evans and Peel
Dates should be fun, and the entrance to cocktail bar Evans and Peel demands a level of imagination. It is set up like a detective agency, and guests must state their ‘case’ before being allowed to enter. If successful, you’ll be directed into a 1920s speakeasy bar, with old fashioned cocktails (watch out, they’re strong) and American diner food like mac ‘n’ cheese.
Dans le Noir?
Tucked away in an unassuming Clerkenwell location, this French-inspired restaurant has a unique setup. You eat in pitch blackness, guided by blind waiters. Talking to a companion without being able to see them is a strange and liberating experience, and you also don’t know what you’ve eaten until after the meal. Before you enter Dans le Noir’s darkness, you select for the vegetarian, meat, fish or ‘surprise’ menu. The later will appeal to the adventurous – it included zebra and shark when I visited.
Garlic and Shots
The name says it all – Garlic and Shots in Soho is dedicated to the white pungent bulb, as well as over 100 vodka shots. If your date likes garlic (it’s supposed to be an aphrodisiac) this should be a winner. All the dishes, and bizarrely some of the drinks, contain garlic, and the décor is an eclectic mixture of American bar with influences from the restaurant’s Swedish founders.
Oriental fusion restaurant Inamo has two branches in London and some very tasty food, but that’s not why visitors come. The main draw is its e-table ordering system, which lets you scroll through images of food and view them on your plate before ordering from your table. You can also play games like battleships, switch between virtual tablecloths and watch the chefs working in real time with the ‘Chefcam’ function. A Valentine’s menu of four courses costs £35 per person.
A theatrical evening is guaranteed at Circus, the bar which doubles as a cabaret venue. It’s worth arriving early before a meal and staying late, to catch as many of the daring entertainment acts as you can – they range from acrobats to fire-breathers and dancers, and sometimes perform on the table in front of you. The cuisine is pan Asian and there’s a special Valentine’s offer for £70 per person.
Discover more unusual restaurants in London with our guide to the capital’s quirky restaurants.