Wednesday, 29 December 2010

What to wear on New Year's Eve

Finding the perfect New Year's date is hard enough so the elves at Fin's for Him thought they would make your life a little easier by giving you the perfect attire for any NYE activity... and of course, the elves here at The Great Date Guide can show you all the perfect places to go!

Naturally, the look was inspired by a pair of the ever-popular George Suede Loafer in chic Hamptons Black.


 Team them with skinny(ish) jeans from Levi's and a Fin's Bertie Belt in steel grey.

    

Wear with this fabulous D&G blazer and Hentschman shirt. In our opinion, it usually works best to go with a classic white shirt rather than anything too jazzy.

    

Now if that doesn't get you a kiss at midnight, we're not sure what will!

Miss Mary says... "A big thank you to the super stylish elves at Fin's for Him for their tips on what to wear for a New Year's date. If you like what you see then you should head over to the Fin's for Him website and take a look at more of their stylish offerings... From shoes to belts to socks they've got men's accessories covered, and they'll make sure any man looks tip top for a first date!"


Friday, 17 December 2010

It's all change….

So, you may have noticed that this blog has undergone somewhat of a facelift over the past few days and perhaps you are asking yourself why?  Well, (trumpet sound) we are pleased to announce some pretty big changes at www.thegreatdateguide.com, the first of which is a BRAND NEW WEBSITE, due to launch in 2011!  


But wait, there's more…. Not only is it going to LOOK better, but it's also going to DO MORE! As well as providing you with all of the best ideas and inspiration on where to go out in London, we're also going to help you book your date, at no extra cost to you, and any other bits and bobs you think you might need in addition (we're thinking flowers, chocolates, taxis…?!). What's more, Miss Mary herself will be on hand to offer assistance in our new bespoke date arranging service… name your criteria and let Miss Mary make your dream date a reality (although we can't vouch for your parter in crime, that we leave up to you!).

Anyhow, we're sure you're going to love the new site as much as we do, so keep your eyes peeled in Jan 2011...

Happy Christmas Everyone! 

xxx

Friday, 10 December 2010

The 12 Dates of Christmas

There's only just over 2 weeks to go before Christmas, can you believe it?! Thankfully, however, that's the perfect amount of time to fit in our '12 Dates of Christmas' - with a day or two to spare! So, sing along to our slightly edited version of a well known festive carol, but more importantly, get out there and do it!


Here's a sneaky preview of dates 1 - 5… head to the website for 6 - 12!




On the first day of Christmas my true love... took me to Partridges on Duke of York Square, off the Kings Road, to ponder all the deliciousness and to choose all my favourite Chirstmas treats for a winter picnic… (if you'd rather stay indoors try a romantic carpet picnic with candles et al!).


On the second day of Christmas my true love... took me on a romatic walk along the river to The (Turtle) Dove in Hammersmith, to while away the afternoon watching the river go by and drinking hot toddies in this cozy olde worldy pub.


On the third day of Christmas my true love... took me to French Morgan M (sorry we couldn't think of any hen places but at least this rhymes!) in Islington to eat and drink fabulous French food!


On the fourth day of Christmas my true love... took me on a walking tour of all the sights of London, including a stop to feed the (calling) birds at Piccadilly Circus.


On the fifth day of Christmas my true love... gave to me, 5 GOLD RINGS!!! Or just a spot of window shopping on the very festive Old Bond Street!

Read more...

Sunday, 5 December 2010

The Dreaded Awkward Silence...

Good chat can make or break a date so the art of conversation is crucial if you’re going to click with someone. There’s no hiding in a one-on-one situation but remember, a date is a marathon not a sprint, so be prepared because you never know when one of those awkward silences is about to descend.

It may seem a bit calculating but having a couple of prepared questions up your sleeve is no bad thing. My uni housemate, for example, always favoured ‘Do you play a musical instrument?’ as her back-up question….but then she is still single so maybe try and be a bit more creative! I certainly wish I’d had an emergency subject to fall back on recently when an absolute shocker of a conversation pause led to pretty disastrous consequences.

Let me set the scene – I’d met Rugby Boy in a bar the weekend before and we agreed to go for drinks. He was sweet, funny, and pretty easy to talk to so drinks seemed a safe bet. We met for a shandy or two in Clapham and we were getting on really well….the only problem was I just wasn’t sure if I was attracted to him. There wasn’t any real chemistry and I was definitely thinking more friend than fancy-man.

Still, we were having a great time chatting away and despite a few suggestive comments coming across the table from the rugger bugger, I was doing my best to keep things more friendly than flirty.

It was nearly closing time and I was feeling pretty pleased to have met such a great new mate when I could suddenly feel it coming – the awkward silence. He’d just returned from the bar with drinks and the conversation stalled – we had run out of things to say. He stared; I stared; he awkwardly played with a beer mat; I nonchalantly fiddled with my hair.

‘So…’ I began, racking my brains for a new topic of conversation. ‘How far is it to your place from here?’

Rugby boy slowly put the beer mat down, coyly smiled at me and slid his hand over the table to stroke mine in what I think was supposed to be an alluring way.

‘I thought you’d never ask, we can be back at mine in 5 - I’ll get us a cab.’

Oh no, awkward silence panic had led to a slightly provocative but totally accidental agreement to a first date sleepover! I racked my brains to think of a way to back track but I couldn’t work out what to say so another sizable silence descended on our table.

He dropped my hand abruptly as I stammered and explained I just had an interest in London geography and didn’t actually intend on joining him on the five minute journey back to his bachelor pad.

A cab was then indeed hailed but it was for a solo passenger as Rugby Boy made a speedy enough exit to keep any winger on their toes. An awkward goodbye, an even more awkward peck on the cheek and I was left standing outside the bar watching as his taxi disappeared into the distance.

That was the end of what could have been a beautiful friendship.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

The Tricycle Theatre


Do you know about this fab little theatre in Kilburn? Has anyone been? We've got ourselves rather excited about it, given that it's not only a theatre but also a gallery AND a cinema and there's a gorgeous bar and cafe to boot - perfect!

Whilst it's perhaps most famous for its controversial political theatre, we're liking the look of this month's rom com epic 'MIDSUMMER' which sounds hysterical! Have a look at the website for more information.

Enjoy!

Miss Mary x

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Covent Garden Hotel Does it Again!

We're just so excited to hear about the latest BRILLIANT concept from Firmdale Hotels. Do you remember the weekend film club? That's the amazing deal at Covent Garden, Charlotte Street and Soho Hotels where you get your choice of a champagne tea or dinner followed by the 'film of the week' in one of their seriously funky private screening rooms. All for £35!


Well, we think they might just have bettered it... On Sundays in December, Covent Garden Hotel is hosting 'Sunday Afternoon Opera and Ballet'. They're screening some of the most beautiful and also most festive ballets and operas (filmed at The Royal Opera House), again complete with afternoon tea and again just for £35 per person.  Full details are below… we can't wait!



5th December:   La Traviata - Verdi 2009
12th December: La Boheme - Puccini 2009
19th December: The Nutcracker - Tchaikovsky Ballet 2009
26th December: Carmen - Bizet 2007

Contact the hotel for reservations.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Top 10 London Pubs with Open Fires

Winter is upon us, but that doesn't have to be a bad thing. Think red wine, hearty food and a roaring fire whilst you cosy up to the man / woman of your dreams! 


In no particular order, here is the Great Date Guide's pick of London's best 'open fire' venues...
1) The Lighthouse, Battersea
This wonderful local gastropub transforms effortlessly from a summer playground, with its huge decked garden, to the perfect hideaway for winter, with comfy sofas, board games and, yes, a large open fire! The seasonal British menu is excellent and the manageable but brilliantly varied wine list has something for everyone. Perfect for a relaxed date any day of the week.
2) The Anglesea Arms, Hammersmith
Another upmarket gastropub, the food here is renowned for its quality and the log fire an essential part of the 'old pub' feel. Lovely.
3) The Builders Arms, Chelsea
Always a favourite, this place is invariably jam packed during winter months. Around this time of year there's mulled wine on tap and the fire is always blazing - plus their Sunday roasts are legendary. Yum yum yum. 
4) The Bulls Head, Chiswick
A lovely old-fashioned pub right on the river. With a log fire and the interior largely a mixture of wood and old wine bottles, it's a truly cosy little spot. 
5) The Jerusalem Tavern, Clerkenwell
A tiny, slightly ragged looking old-fashioned pub (well, made to look old fashioned anyway!), this is a beer enthusiasts heaven. For the romantic however, get there early in the evening (and early in the week) and bag a table on their miniature mezzanine level - it's cosy romance exemplified.
6) The Dove, Hammersmith
A seriously cute pub tucked away down a small alley on the riverside walk from Hammersmith to Chiswick. With low beams and a flickering fire it's perfect for a winter date.  According to the Guinness Book of Records it's got the smallest separate bar in the UK. A good bit of pub trivia and a good excuse for getting cosy with your date - two things which we approve of!
7) The Crown, Islington
This is a pub with a very loyal following. Outdoor space in the summer and a roaring fire in the winter, it prides itself on its seasonal food with fresh home-bread baked every day! Delicious.
8) The Yorkshire Grey, Fitzrovia
A proper old-fashioned pub - just like in the olden days! You won't find gastro food here, but you will find a charming, friendly and cosy drinking hole, much loved by its locals. It’s a Samuel Smith pub so no 'branded' drinks here, but it's wonderfully traditional, very good value and a favourite of many a celebrity, so keep your eyes peeled…
9) The Princess Victoria, Shepherds Bush
Lovingly refurbished and restored this pub is a Victorian masterpiece beautifully brought up to date. The open fire is in the dining room rather than the bar, but with award winning, high-end gastro pub food, you won't be disappointed if you opt for dinner. They've also got a very impressive wine list...
10) The Orange, Pimlico
A stylishly rustic and fairly upmarket gastropub renowned for its fantastic food. We've heard the wood-fired pizzas are excellent and we rather like the little potted orange trees dotted about the place!

HIGHLY COMMENDED
The Drapers Arms, Islington
Whilst we can't really include this in the main list given its lack of an open fire, The Drapers Arms is a firm favourite foodie pub (chef is Karl Goward, ex head chef of St John) and does have three lovely wood burning stoves which lets face it, almost count!

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Richmond Park

If you're familiar with The Great Date Guide you'll probably already know that we LOVE Richmond Park. You'll also know that we like to practice what we preach so, on a hungover, misty Sunday morning Miss Mary headed off to the park for a romantic stroll with her other half….

Waking up on Sunday morning after the fantastic wedding of one of my best friends (wondering why the clocks going back doesn't seem to have made any difference) my thoughts went something like this:

1) Why did I buy those cheep shoes? My feet are KILLING me! I did look good though ;)
2) Boy the wine was good. And the staff were excellent at refilling, and refilling, and refilling….
3) Our taxi driver should have his licence removed. I blame him for early on-set hangover.
4) Whose idea was it to get up (out of this warm, cosy bed) and drive out to Richmond and go for a walk in the rain? Mine? Well, it was a good one at the time…

Remembering it was my own plan, and never one to back down, I grabbed my boots, grabbed my other half, and headed off to the park.

After a quick cup of coffee in one of the park's many cafes we set off into the wild. OK not quite wild, but the nearest thing you'll get in London. It took about two seconds to realise that this was the perfect remedy for a hangover. Richmond Park is beautiful. At any time of year it always seams to revitalise, but on a misty autumn morning the colours are especially enchanting. It might have been the hangover talking but looking around it felt like watching on old TV with the volume turned down - all faded colours and muted sounds - breathtaking.


We headed up through ancient woodland to the White Lodge (home of the Royal Ballet Lower School and a memorable scene from Billy Elliot!) and then down again to the two huge lakes in the middle of the park.


At the first lake we witnessed an amazing show of machismo from a couple of feisty swans. Each determined to show the other who was boss, no doubt to win the affection of the lady next door. Then, at the second lake we saw part two of the story: swans in love! Watching their elaborate courtship ritual we felt like extras in a David Attenborough programme, finding ourselves whispering in classic documentary style… Leaving the lovers behind for a bit of privacy we tramped on through the park, hands held, feeling strangely euphoric and in love with the world!


Two hours, and a lot of fresh air, later we headed back towards the car park passing some seriously impressive stags on our way. Those guys definitely know a thing or two about dating techniques...


So, Richmond Park in the Autumn - a good place for a date? YES! If you're anything like us you'll leave all your worries at the car park and enjoy a couple of hours of fresh air and getting back to nature. We'd both had pretty hectic weeks so it was a great place to catch up, reconnect and just spend some time together, without distractions. 

It's London, but not as you know it.


Monday, 25 October 2010

The Bad Date Blog

Some more words of wisdom from our unlucky in love Bad Date Blogger, who has a cautionary tale to tell about the perils of mixing dating and alcohol!


It was inevitable that this subject would come up at some point, as dates and alcohol tend to go hand in hand. The venue is usually a pub, no one’s brave enough to suggest dinner, so 4 or 5 hours of solid drinking can often be the norm for first dates.



Now this can be tricky for the ladies. I don’t know about you but going drink for drink with a bloke can often have disastrous consequences. I usually sail past tipsy on the second G&T while my date has barely noticed he’s had a beer.  And although I make a fine art out of slurring and stumbling, it’s apparently just not that sexy.

Many dates and many drinks have taught me a few simple tricks to hold onto your sobriety for as long as possible:

1 - Pick your drink wisely, I, for example, seem to fare much better on spirits than wine.

2 - Order a softie when it’s your round – get the barman to stick it in the same glass and your date will never know.

3 - Most of all, keep your wits about you, as booze and embarrassment are never far apart. Have a good long think before you suggest another shot/going to a club/strip poker back at yours….

Despite best intentions things can still sometimes get out of hand and while I have many of my own stories I could share I will be using another’s bad date experience to fully illustrate how judgment can be impaired by one spritzer too many.

My friend Ben recently headed out on a first date with a girl he’d met online. She was fun, pretty, could hold a conversation, and things were going well. Drinks were flowing and several large glasses of chardonnay were definitely having an effect on his date.  Nothing too bad at first, lots of giggling, slightly red in the face, the odd slur. Until...

The conversation turned to university days and Ben and his lady-friend were regaling each other with tales of their drinking prowess. Ben told a few rugby club classics involving the usual nudity, vulgarity, and drinking injuries. His date, not to out-done, quickly retold the story of how she fell off stage while dancing along to a live performance of Chesney Hawkes at her Union:

‘Five stitches and seven visits to the dentist’ she said proudly ‘Look!’

Ben did his best to avoid looking as the girl popped out her false front teeth and placed them on the table next to his pint. She grinned proudly, with slightly less teeth than before, and took a big, gummy sip of her wine.

Ben is a nice guy but seeing a smile with enough gaps to rival a granny did put him off slightly and he chose not to get in touch again. She kept quiet too and I imagine the combo of the hangover and reliving the moment she whacked her dentures out were enough to make her keep her head down for a while.

Beware the booze girls.

Written by our lovely, anonymous, bad date blogger!

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Oooooooooooh, Ahhhhhhhhh!

It's that wonderful time of year again when we remember just how much we love winter (enjoy it while you can, it's a feeling that lasts approximately four weeks). Crisp clear days, open fires, cosy knitwear and the constant threat of having to get into a bikini / trunks behind us for another year.


To add to this general feeling of wellbeing that has taken over at The Great Date Guide in recent days, we're starting to get excited about BONFIRE NIGHT! Hip hip hooray for the slightly dodgy Guy Fawkes and his menacing plans to blow up parliament. (I wonder if we'd celebrate it quite so much if he had succeeded?)

It's the 405th anniversary this year and as far as we're concerned that's as good a reason as any to go completely over the top with our celebrations. Think huge bonfires, spectacular pyrotechnics, toffee apples and mulled wine. Maybe even a spot of fancy dress?!

Visit the website for a full list of London's fireworks displays and get plotting... (Fawkes style).

GDG xxx

Thursday, 14 October 2010

the early days date


You've made it through the first date, you liked what you saw, and now you're full of eager anticipation for dates 2, 3 and 4! 'Early days' dating can be the most exciting and exhilarating of the lot, so it's important to make the most of it. Apart from anything else, this is the time for getting to know each other and for this reason your choice of dating activity and venue is key - make no mistake about it, you WILL be being judged! To help you on your way, here's what we hope is a fail safe guide to getting the best out of the early days date.
Mix it up
All going to plan, you'll go on a few of these fantastic early dates, which gives you the opportunity to try out a variety of different dating options. Just make sure you remember that word 'variety'. Three dinner dates in a row is an uninspiring choice and you'll risk the 'fizzle out'. Equally, three action packed adrenaline filled dates one after the other could just as easily send your date running for cover. Mix fun and interesting dates with relaxed and comfortable ones for the perfect combination.
It's not all about you
Opera may not be your idea of a great night out, but your date might simply adore it. Try and find out a little about his/her interests, and use the information to plan future dates. Not only will your questioning show that you are interested in them as a person, but if you can manage to remember some of it and incorporate it into the next date, you're guaranteed to please! (...showing that very thoughtful side of your personality whilst you're at it…)
Be honest… within reason!
There's not much point in not being yourself when you're building a new relationship, but clearly there will be some aspects of your personality that you might want to expose less than others! If you're renowned for your swagger, try and tone it down a little for the first few dates, whilst if you're not known for your adventurous spirit, make an effort to stretch your boundaries. A little self-improvement never goes amiss, and this is a good time to try it!
Who pays?
Here it is again, modern dating's enduring conundrum. You'll have got some clue from date number one as to what your date feels about this potentially sensitive issue, but as the dates go on the majority of people would expect some contribution from both parties. As well as being more fair, it also means that one party isn't left feeling indebted to the other. Whatever you do, just don't make a big fuss about it as you don't want your romantic date to end in financial bickering.
Don't expect too much
It's hard not to get excited when you've found someone you like, but do remember that it's pretty hard to tell where things are going to go this early on. You can ruin it for yourself by setting your expectations too high and not giving things a chance to develop.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

The Three Stage Strategy

Miss Mary was out for drinks last night and was chatting to a friend about his dating strategy. He employs the 3 Stage Date technique, which, here at the Great Date Guide, we are no strangers to. In fact, it's what we're all about: dates that combine different elements offering flexibility, excitement, variety… and lets not forget, the opportunity to scarper if it's all going wrong!

Stage 1: Drinks
Stage 2: Dinner
Stage 3: Cocktails

It's not rocket science.

However, he had a good tip for anyone using the 3 Stage Date strategy: make sure that Stage 1 Drinks happen somewhere that serves food. Why? You're date can't fail to be impressed when you say "no, no, we aren't staying here to eat, I've booked this great little restaurant nearby". Top marks for thinking ahead and booking dinner, bonus marks for making the effort to pick a second venue, it shows you've really planned your night which always goes down well. No one likes to think you've put zero effort into your evening with them. 

Remember, there is a fine line between spontaneity and just not bothering!

For some great date ideas incorporating the old multiple venue trick, take a look at the website.  Even better, if you've got some suggestions of your own then let us know! Either here, via the website or via Twitter.

Monday, 4 October 2010

secret supper clubs: part two

As promised... the team at the Great Date Guide have been busy putting together part two of our guide to London's finest supper clubs. Whether you're after dinner in a cosy hut in North West London, or in a trendy Loft out East, we're pretty sure we've got it covered. Dating and dining have never been so deliciously diverse!


The Underground Restaurant: Located in Kilburn North West London, run by blogger MsMarmitelover, it's a pioneer of the supper club movement in the UK. Dinners, lunches, brunches or teas are held once a week for up to 30 guests seated at large mixed tables. Private bookings from two to five people can be made for the summerhouse at the end of the garden. This charming shabby chic hut has a day bed and a wood burner = perfect for a great date!

Sheen Suppers: They've been open in East Sheen since July 2009 and serve excellent, wine-paired food every couple of weeks or so on a Friday and sometimes a Saturday night. Instead of sitting at a large table with strangers (admittedly part of the fun of a secret restaurant!) you can get cosy at a table for two in your hosts quirkily decorated house.

Civet Cat Club:  Run by a small group of chefs and enthusiasts from their home in Newington Green they serve delicious four course meals for up to 16 people in their candlelit loft. They've taken a break for the summer but will be back in action for autumn. Think informal, friendly, good food and good banter.


Rambling Restaurant:  Rambling Restaurant is a collective that creates extraordinary menus in unique spaces. They started (and still often hold their meals) in a Camden living room but their rambling has seen them barbequing bread for 200 in a Norwich field, turning a Waterloo squat into a fine dining room and dishing out wild rabbit stew in an old tram depot in Clapton. If you want weird and wonderful then this is the one for you! 

Clandestinos:  Clandestinos is a throwback to the good old days of prohibition speakeasies and the paladares in Cuba. You won't find them advertised anywhere and there's no name above the door or listing in the phone book.  They're discretely hidden away in a private Mews, behind a black gate, so only those in the know can get inside! It's not your typical secret underground restaurant but more of a small and intimate supper club with good food, good wine and candlelight!  Run once a month in Islington you and your date can enjoy a home cooked 3 course dinner featuring dishes from around the world (we're talking Brazil, Spain, Portugal and Italy).

Fernandez & Leluu: A secret supper club in East London (you'll get the address a day or two before your booking) where you'll be served top quality food made from the freshest ingredients, and up to 8 courses of it! The Spanish and Vietnamese partnership means you'll get some great flavours, but again, remember to book early, this place is popular with foodies.


The First Bite is With the Eye: Run by a real foodie who, in her own words, is a frustrated chef, The First Bite is all about the grub. Emily is seriously passionate about food and aims to share her love and passion with her guests in a relaxed and fun environment in Putney, where everyone goes away not only satisfied from the food but the evening as a whole. 

Joginder’s: A mother and daughter run supper club in North London, Joginder's offers delicious North Indian Punjabi food in an informal atmosphere.  With no kick out time Joginder's is perfect for a relaxed supper with delicious food and great company.

Tudor Road: Based in London Fields in East London, it seats around 12 people, with a menu that changes every week, depending on what's good at the market or on the farms. The produce comes from fairly small independent producers, such as The Ginger Pig, Neals Yard Dairy and Chegworth Juices. Your host, Ben, has worked at Noma in Copenhagen; the worlds number 1 restaurant so you can be pretty sure of a fantastic meal.


The Loft: Definitely at the high end of supper clubs at £120-per-head, the Loft Project is the brainchild of Portuguese chef Nuno Mendes. Originally set up as a temporary supper club and personal test kitchen, the Loft has now become a platform for the next generation of talented chefs to take up residency and showcase their food. Chefs are invited from top kitchens around the world to host dinners for guests around one communal table. The Loft Project takes evening bookings on Thursday, Friday and Saturday each week and makes for a GREAT date!

The Czars Banquet: Located near the Caledonian Tube this is a supper club with a difference!  Your hosts, Olga and Helen, are passionate about developing a modern Russian cooking style that respects Russian traditions whilst also moving with the times: Russian fusion food.  Their suppers are inventive and often themed, but there is always one Russian tradition they never do without – vodka!

If you know of any other supper clubs that aren't listed here (really - can we have missed any?!) then please let us know about them in the comments section here or on our Facebook page.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

secret supper clubs: part one

Here at the Great Date Guide we're all about secrets, and letting you in on them! So, here is our pick of the best secret supper clubs in London. Perfect for a delicious dinner date with a difference! We love the illicit nature of the supper club, not to mention the fabulous food and wonderful atmosphere that you'll experience.

We were planning on doing our top 10 but we discovered so many fantastic and original underground restaurants that we couldn't narrow it down!  Make sure you click on the links to find out about dates, venues (you'll probably only be told a few days before your dinner!) and suggested donations.

So, here is part one of our pick from London's exciting and original supper club scene - part two coming soon...

Bootleg Banquet: One of the Kings of the underground restaurant revolution, based in an abandoned pasta delivery kitchen in trendy Shoreditch. You'll be treated to delicious food, an in-house DJ and an eclectic bunch of dining companions. Helio and Pieter are extremely talented chefs with an impressive resumĂ© - you won't be disappointed, but book early because this place is popular.
Lex Cook You Eat: You only have to read the reviews to know that Lex Eat is a hugely popular supper club. Now in a smaller, more intimate, venue on Regent’s Canal, Alexis and Yohanna offer their guests superbly cooked food in a stylish and relaxed atmosphere.  Our favourite touch? Little messages to their guests written on the brown paper tablecloth!
The Old Hat Club: A pop-up restaurant based in Angel. Run by four friends who strive for well executed, home cooked, modern comfort food and a great laugh. It's not a quick bite to eat, but a slow, relaxing Sunday lunch cooked mainly in their outside wood-fired oven and eaten in the comfort of their home (and garden when the sun is shining!). Enjoy a Bloody Mary on arrival and let the good times roll!
The Secret Ingredient: Run by the excitable, Dennis the Menis apron wearing, Horton Jupiter this is a deliciously chaotic supper club. Since opening in mid January 2009 they've been serving 8 or 9 course meals of exotic vegetarian Japanese food  - people ask "why Japanese?"  because it's sexy says Horton! After a recent success serving tapas they've come up with a new concept - well, a new word actually, JAPAS! Held in a council flat in Newington Green every other Wednesday/Thursday, this is one quirky supper club!
The Friday Food Club: Set in the heart of Blackheath Village in the old GPO film studios, now a seriously funky apartment, Lee Behan, your classically trained Chef and host, cooks fantastic British Food with a modern twist with inspiration from the global larder. He also lets other chefs loose in his kitchen! Mark Hix, Dhruv Baker (Masterchef fame) and Anna Hansen to name but a few… Expect excellent food and a great atmosphere, but as usual, book in early!
love a locavore supper club
Cucina Cinzia: Flown over from Tuscany for the supperclub, Cinzia (and Fulham based Jill) want to welcome you into a Tuscan family atmosphere, serving authentic seasonal Tuscan food; things that you wouldn't normally find in Italian restaurants in London.  Their supper club is everything that you would associate with an Italian family supper: delicious home cooked food, an informal atmosphere and a real love of entertaining.
The Secret Larder: The Secret Larder is run by food writer James Ramsden and his sister Mary at their flat in North London. The atmosphere is cosy and welcoming, the food lovingly cooked, and the guests welcome to stay as long as they like. Sounds pretty good to us! It runs every other Thursday.
White Room Supperclub:  Located close to the Barbican in a stylish venue, with great views over town, this club is perfect to come to with your date, or in the hope of finding one! You'll be served delicious food in slick surroundings with a special emphasis on meeting new people and mingling. Every evening starts with a drink and canapĂ©s before being seated on one  big table for the meal. The location makes this one perfect for an original post work date…
Love a Locavore: A fabulous little pop up in the Sands End area of Fulham, the essence of which is UK grown seasonal food, much of which comes fresh from the owners family kitchen garden in the Costwolds.   This pop-up really is perfect for a date because, not only is the food delicious, but you have the opportunity to sit at a romantic table for two overlooking the "restaurant", or if you're feeling more sociable, you can join in at a table of 6 - 8 diners.
love a locavore supper club
Eat Meet Supperclub: They've had a break over the summer but should be back in action again in Brockley this autumn. Eat Meet Supperclub is fun and relaxed with every other supper being a singles supper club, and sometimes themed… Expect good food and good times!
Nomad Chef: A secret restaurant in the heart of Holland Park where an ever changing group of adventurous, interesting, eclectic food lovers meet to eat food from all over the world, and share stories and artifacts of their lives… in the true Nomad tradition.  Perfect for the free spirited adventurous daters amongst you! 
The Savoy Truffle Supperclub: Operating from a lounge in Blackheath (and other pop-up venues) this laidback monthly supper club is underground and exclusive, promising a multi-course feast of fabulous locally-sourced food (the veg comes from their allotment or a farm, just seven miles away), a buzzing atmosphere, a chance to meet new people, to talk to the chef - and to get a peek inside his home! Want to impress your date? Just tell them your guerilla chef has cooked for Orlando Bloom, James MacAvoy, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall... 

Keep an eye out for part two, appearing on the website soon…

Friday, 24 September 2010

Brilliant Restaurant

To kick start my 'curry makes a great date crusade', GDG was treated to a very pleasurable evening at the Brilliant Restaurant in Southall last night, an Indian Restaurant made famous by Mr Gordon Ramsay himself. 

Whilst Southall (where?) may not be renowned as one of London's top culinary hotspots, we had been assured by a fairly reliable source that this would be the finest curry we would ever taste. So, full of anticipation, we made the long trek west, enjoying several highlights along the way such as a fried chicken shop called 'XFC' (looking remarkably similar to Colonel Sanders' well known Kentucky eatery), and an electrical goods shop called 'A Shoka'. Well, it kept us entertained anyway…

Dinner itself was no disappointment. A range of tandoori chicken starters along with generous portions of Kenyan style Tilapia fish was a mouthwatering start. Our mains were the outstanding Methi Chicken, their signature dish, and Chicken Palak, a combination of succulent chicken with freshly chopped spinach in a delicious masala sauce. Perfection. The staff were cheery and attentive, much buoyed by their recent Ramsay-driven fame (the F Word episode featuring Brilliant Restaurant was proudly played on a large flat screen TV). We dined like Marharaja's.

Well, if you name your restaurant 'Brilliant', you sort of have to deliver, don't you...  


Monday, 20 September 2010

The Bad Date Blog

Some more words of wisdom from our unlucky in love Bad Date Blogger, who has a cautionary tale to tell about friends bearing photographs…

A great way to get out there on a few dates is to call on your friends for a set-up or two. Most people I know always love a bit of matchmaking and are more than willing to help you find a date for Friday night - usually some amazing catch that they’ve been hiding away from you for years. But beware, while I’m sure much happiness has been found using this technique, make sure you know exactly what you’re getting into, and more importantly that you tell your friends exactly what you’re looking for.


My tale starts with a suggestion of a set-up from my housemate with his friend from work. I happily agreed to a photo exchange, which now seems to be standard practice for set-ups of any kind. I quickly sent off the most recent photo of myself I could find on facebook where I wasn’t drunk/hungover/embarrassing myself. This was easier said than done but thankfully the fancy dress outfit didn’t scare off my potential date and an email with his chosen piccies soon arrived in my inbox. First impressions were not bad – nice smile, tall, full head of hair – pretty much all I’m looking for in a man…. Ok, so maybe not 100% my type but definitely worth a drink.

So a week and a bit later and I was heading off to meet my set-up for a drink in South Ken. I was feeling pretty optimistic, he’d chosen a great bar to meet in, seemed lovely on pre-date texts, and of course, I’d already seen the photos….

I wandered into the pub and started scanning the crowd, but no one was looking familiar apart from the spitting image of my dad’s best friend propping up the bar in the corner. I did a double-take but ignored him as there was no way the 65 year grandfather of three from Oxford would have been downing a pint in London on a Tuesday night.

Thinking I must have arrived a bit early, I grabbed a table and planned to wait for my date to come to me. But 5 or 10 minutes passed and still nothing… until I catch the eye of Gramps at the bar. He stares back. He smiles. He heads over to my table…
copyright Xavier  Bertels 
Unsure what to do I smiled nervously back as he approached wondering what this old man might want. I started to feel uneasy as he pulled out a chair at my table, sat down, and started to speak:

‘Hi ****, I didn’t see you come in – what would you like to drink?’

Damn, he knows my name, definitely my “blind” date then, as I realise the photo evidence I had seen must have been taken more than a few years (and dress sizes) ago. Not exactly what had been advertised by my housemate. Right, only one thing for it -

‘Mine’s a gin and tonic. Large’

Several drinks later I was actually having a good time. My OAP escort was pretty funny and easy to talk to… it was just a crying shame that he looked 30 years older than every other bloke in the pub! Did I have a good evening? Yes. Did sparks eventually fly? Ummm, no.  As lovely as he was I just didn’t fancy him. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a firm believer that personality is much more important than looks but I don’t think love was going to flourish when my first impression was disappointment. I was promised a tasty-looking young chap but ended up with a slightly more ‘distinguished’ gentleman.

It certainly hasn’t put me off set-ups as it was a perfectly pleasant evening but I’ll be wary of friends bearing photos in future. Needless to say I had words with my housemate - false advertising just isn’t cool people.

Written by our lovely, anonymous, bad date blogger!

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Curry

It's the wonderful Brick Lane Curry Festival this Sunday, during which over 200 chefs and 50 local restaurants will 'curr-ify' the whole of... yes, you guessed it, Brick Lane. It's got me wondering why, despite the British obsession with this eastern delight, 'going for a curry' does not feature more highly in the rankings of dating options?

I know very few people who don't like curry. In fact, most people I know simply LOVE the stuff. Yet I've never been taken to a curry house on a first date, and I'm not convinced that I'd have been particularly impressed if I had. Sure, I've had many a romantic night in with a take-away, and an evening out at our local Indian is definitely a treat, but for some reason I simply can't imagine being taken there on a first, or even second or third date. 

I wonder why? Is it because we don't consider it exciting enough? (If anyone else is mourning the loss of Westbourne Grove's Urban Turban you'll surely disagree with this one...) Is it because we can't shake off the image of drunken boys and that awful Vindaloo song? Is it simply because, with one on every other corner of London, it just seems a bit too easy?

Whatever the reason, I vote for a change of heart and am hereby promoting the return of the curry house as a dating staple. So how about kicking it all off with a day of exotic gluttony at the Brick Lane Curry Festival, in… yes, Brick Lane.

Miss Mary x

Thursday, 9 September 2010

New Dates

Some great new dates on the website over the last week or so… 

Romancing at the V&A (which, by the way, is home to the London Design Festival from 18th - 26th September), Urban Golf (Scottish lovely Dougray Scott spotted at the Kensington branch on opening night - got to be a good sign), a Chiswick date for all you 'westenders' and 'Notting Hill by night' to remind you that there is life after carnival…

Go on, take a look!

Miss Mary x

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Little London Observationist

Miss Mary is very proud to feature in this weeks Listen to a Londoner, the weekly Q&A session from one of our favourite blogs, Little London Observationist. Packed full of everything that we love about London, this is a blog about what makes a London life a fabulous life.

Here's a sneaky peek at part of the interview, head to Little London Observationist for the rest!


LLO: Would you consider London a romantic city?
Miss Mary: Absolutely! Although, I believe that any city can be romantic if you approach it with the right attitude. It’s less about the city – more about how you interact with it. That is one of the reasons we started the website, to help people find the great dating spots in London that might otherwise have passed them by. I do think London is special though, and full of quirky romantic places.

LLO: Where’s the best place for a date in your postcode?
Miss Mary: For a first date, I think my local pub, the Lighthouse in Battersea, is pretty perfect! There’s a great garden for the summer and a roaring fire in the winter. The atmosphere is seriously relaxed so you can start off with a glass of wine, and if the date is going well you can settle in and order food. If the date is going really well you can finish off with a romantic stroll around Battersea Park and then reward yourself with a cheeky kiss on Albert Bridge – definitely the most romantic bridge in London!

LLO: Tell us about the best date you’ve ever had in London.
Miss Mary: I’m in the lucky position of having had lots of wonderful dates in London with my boyfriend. It’s hard to pick a favourite but I think I’d have to say when we took a day trip to Greenwich. Taking the boat down the river, you’re really reminded what a fantastic city London is. Then in Greenwich there is so much to do: fascinating museums, beautiful art, colourful markets, romantic walks with spectacular views, not to mention standing on the line where time officially starts! We finished off the date with a delicious meal at the Rivington Grill and then a very tipsy boat ride home in the dark, mesmerised by the lights of London and the romance of it all. It was a perfect day.