Thursday, 24 June 2010

Film 4 summer screen at Somerset House

ⓒ Gideon Mendel

Exciting news! It's finally that time of year again and the giant screen at Somerset House is back. This really is one of my all time favourite dates, particularly on a lovely warm evening like tonight (let's just hope it lasts...)

This year it's running from 30th July 2010 to 8th August and it really does give you an amazing chance to experience cinema in a whole new light. Think American drive in (that jumping sausage scene from Grease) crossed with English country house grandeur - and it's all in central London!

This year's highlights are Kill Bill Volume 1 (the first and the best), Goldfinger and my personal favourite, The Lost Boys. If you're REALLY into your movies, there's also a variety of 'Behind the Screen' talks and discussions taking place prior to each evening's showing. On the other hand, unless your date is as into movies as you are, this part might be better avoided...

There are definitely a few insiders tips on this one. Bring a big rug, an umbrella (just to keep the sun off of course...), a picnic, something to drink and most importantly, LOTS of cushions. Numb bottom syndrome mid movie will really spoil the mood!

Friday, 18 June 2010

top 10 roof terraces

The sun appears to be involved in a complicated game of hide and seek this summer, so it's all the more important to catch it when you can! Ever hopeful that there may be a few rays on offer shortly, here is the GDG's guide to the best rooftop bars in London...

1. The Boundary - Shoreditch
One of our favourite rooftop venues for its setting and stylish design. In fact, dare we say it...could this be the best rooftop date in London?

2. Kensington Roof Gardens - Kensington
Did you know there are fully grown oak trees here? Ken Roof Gardens are frankly amazing, so try and go when it's still light to fully appreciate them.

3. Vista at the Trafalgar - Trafalgar Square
It doesn't get much better than this - panoramic views over Trafalgar Square - an absolute must!

4. Coq d'Argent - Bank
Delicious French food and one of the most remarkable roof gardens in London. Check it out for yourself...

5. Paradise by Way of Kensal Green - Kensal Green
You'll either love it or hate it but it's definitely worth a visit. It's got a great roof terrace and eclectic interior design which we think makes it pretty unique.

6. The White House - Clapham Common
A little something for those of you south of the river...

7. The Clarendon - Holland Park
This great big roof terrace is the ideal spot for dinner al fresco, although sun lovers amongst you should try it for lunch, when the terrace is at it's sun drenched best.

8. The Faltering Fullback - Finsbury Park
Not so much a rooftop bar, more a treehouse pub, but we love it and think it makes for a perfect chilled out date.

9. The Frog - Clapham Common
Recently reopened pub on The Pavement in Clapham with a great roof terrace overlooking the Common. Perfect for a lazy afternoon date.

10. Aqua - Regent's Street
Take the lift up to the top floor of the former Dickens & Jones department store and be prepared for a surprise. When the lift doors open you'll find yourself entering a cavernous, dimly lit Japanese restaurant, slightly reminiscent of a 90's nightclub according to Giles Coren! Anyway, it's the roof top we're interested in - with stunning views down Regent Street this would make a dramatic end to a great date.

Let us know if we've missed your favourite roof top bar off our list!

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

top 5 cinema dates

Just when we thought summer was here....

Still, we hear the weather will be better next week, so in the meantime we suggest you console yourselves with the staple of romancing heritage that is the cinema date. With competition for the top spots high, these five outstanding establishments have proved their worth by offering much more than just a movie.

1. Electric Cinema, Notting Hill

With enormous comfy chairs at the front, two seater sofa's at the back (more of a bed really) and a bar in the auditorium, it's a clear winner in our view.

2. Everyman Cinema, Hampstead

More two seaters (club suites) and space for a bottle of bubbly, it's not the cheapest but it's sure to impress any date.

3. Ritzy, Brixton

Old fashioned elegance with all the trimmings. There's even a bar upstairs with live music, DJ nights and stand up comedy. Talk about mixing it up!

4. Shortwave Cinema, Bermondsey

This ultra stylish small capacity but big screened beauty hasn't quite decided whether it is a bar or a cinema. We think it excels at both.

5. BFI IMAX, South Bank

Perhaps less romantic than the other venues, this cinema is for all you technophiles out there. The screen is MASSIVE and they've wisely introduced, you guessed it, double seats! Need we say more?

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Sam's Brasserie Chiswick

Much like a like first date, when I go to review a restaurant I'm hoping for a good first impression. Turning up at Sam's Brasserie I was feeling pretty stressed out, over half an hour late, cursing Boris Johnson, and in need of a large glass of wine!

Once I stepped through the doors I knew I was going to be ok. First impressions were great! Not only did everyone in the place seem to know the eponymous "Sam", who in turn treated them all like regulars, but the relaxed atmosphere draws you in straight away. With it's warehouse vibe Sam's instantly reminded me of New York. It has that buzzy atmosphere which is perfect for a date: loud enough to feel popular but quiet enough to feel intimate.

Talking of intimate… if you're going on a date whether it be first, second or third you have to sit in one of the 2 person booths at the bar - they are made for romance! Tucked up to a wall on one side, and open to the bar on the other, you've again got the perfect combination of intimate and lively, not to mention a whole host of punters at the bar to provide you with conversation topics should you be running short!

The Better Half and I tucked into a delicious meal of seasonal food, chosen from the incredibly varied and impressive menu. I enjoyed my British asparagus whilst being grateful I'd managed to veto his choice of the ominously named "pigs head". We were also very impressed with the wine list which was extensive but also very good value for London. If one of you is driving the 500ml carafe is also a great alternative to sharing a bottle - and terribly Continental!

It's also worth mentioning (although we haven't done an official GDG review) that on the 1st and 3rd Sunday of every month Sam's plays host to some fabulous Jazz singers. Could be the perfect option if you want something a little bit different for a Sunday date?

Date wise this place ticks all the right boxes. The food and service are great, but more importantly the atmosphere is perfect for a romance. In our opinion this is is a classic early days option.

Click here to read our review of Sam's Brasserie on the GDG date-a-base!