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.