Thursday, 22 November 2012

Great Christmas Shopping Ideas

Now that Bonfire night has been and gone there is no denying that Christmas is well and truly on it's way...

Here at www.thegreatdateguide.com we love getting in the festive spirit with a spot of ice skating, Christmas markets, carol services and even the dreaded Christmas shopping!


If you don't love Christmas shopping as much as we do - don't panic! We've put together some helpful gift guides to give you much needed inspiration, not to mention the chance to shop from your computer rather than pounding the streets along with everyone else.

In an extra helpful sort of way there's a festive shopping guide for the girls and one for the boys...

From personalised Christmas stockings to luxury coffee making machines (via what has got to be THE coffee table book of the year) there should be something for everyone.




Wednesday, 31 October 2012

The Best Ice Skating Rinks in London

Scarves and hats, mulled wine and roasted chestnuts, pink cheeks and (if your skating skills are anything like ours) pink bottoms! Whether you're Torvill and Dean wannabes or complete novices, London's outdoor ice rinks make a truly great date. It's romantic and it's fun, it'll make you giggle and fill you to the brim with festive cheer… in fact, it's basically our favourite winter date! 


Click here to read our guide, which features seven of London's best ice skating rinks:
  1. Canary Wharf
  2. The London Eye
  3. Hampton Court
  4. Hyde Park
  5. Somerset House
  6. The Natural History Museum
  7. The Tower of London 

  8. Have you got a favourite that we've missed off our list?
    Let us know...




Saturday, 27 October 2012

Halloween in London

Wednesday night is Halloween and we reckon it's the perfect occasion for a spookily inspired date! Take a look at some of our scary suggestions below... 


We just love these brilliant after hours sessions, and wouldn't you know it, the next one is on 31st October. Keep close to your date for this eerie night time tour of the Iconic Central Hall, with scary creatures around every corner and a drink at the bar at the end - we think you might need it!
These day and night time tours will be held for a week over the Halloween period (27th October - 4th November). Climb to the very top of the O2 and explore London's gruesome past with a birds eye view of the city. Make sure you go at night for full effect.
Not sure there's much more to say on this one. It runs from 25th - 27th October and in addition to all the beer, there'll be cider, wine and live music!
You probably aren't instantly convinced by this as a date venue, but you really shouldn't judge it until you try it. It is a proper giggle and sometimes that's exactly what you need for those 'early days' dates. Halloween gives you the perfect excuse to give it a go.

5) The Crypts
Recently rescued from administration (we'll gloss over that...), a visit to The Crypts takes you deep underneath London Bridge for the truly terrifying 'Ultimate Evening Scare' from 26th - 31st October. Tickets available via Ticketmaster.


Got any "Fright Night" date suggestions of your own? We'd love to hear them....

Monday, 15 October 2012

Not your ordinary book club!


We sent the lovely Alana off to review The Book Club for us. Here's what she had to say…. 

A cup of tea, cake and a copy of Jayne Eyre this is not!  Expect a warehouse conversion filled with vintage furniture, crazy art and great music.  If you don’t book, then be prepared to scramble for a seat because this place gets busy pretty quickly.  If you’re lucky, you’ll get one of the G-Plan sofas to snuggle down in, and if you and your date are at ‘that stage’ then maybe you can snuggle together!


With a choice of Mexican slash bar food at very reasonable prices, and a personality that doesn’t take itself too seriously, The Book Club is perfect for a first date. Order your food and drinks at the bar - they’ll happily put on a tab for you to settle once you’ve had your fill.  Or, if you’re not going Dutch just pay for what you’re having there and then to avoid any awkward sideward glances when the bill comes!

Downstairs they host events most nights, which usually kick off around 10.30pm.  They also have a pool table AND I think I saw a table tennis table too!  The perfect opportunity to play the ‘I can’t play this, can you teach me’ card, or whoop your date’s behind!


The night we were there it was the "Through the Floor/Tweetbox event" downstairs (just one of the many they put on)  which was the perfect way to continue our evening.  The music upstairs should get you in the mood for some dancing so when you feel it's time to move on, pick up your drinks and head to the basement.  Not the usual mainstream sounds but something which you can shake your tail feathers to... and a great way of seeing how seriously your date takes themselves! 

The Book Club ticks many boxes; if you and your date don’t want to cook then the food is quick and will agree with most budgets.  If you just fancy drinks in a place with a great atmosphere then it's the perfect venue.  Or if you’re after an all in one; food, drinks and dancing later on, The Book Club can offer that too.

My only tip; a sharing platter really is big enough to share.  It took me a dish too many to get out of my starter-main-pud comfort zone!

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Primrose Hill & Yumchaa

Here's a guest post from an inspired 'Great Dater' who wrote in with such a gem of a date that we asked her to tell you all about it...

My boyfriend surprised me with a trip to London Zoo for our second date, but it wasn't the monkeys and armadillos that made it so unforgettable. We took a detour through Regent's Park and came across Primrose Hill. It may not look very steep from the bottom but I can guarantee it is worth the embarrassing breathlessness for the views at the top. We sat snuggled up on a bench looking out over a gorgeous view of london and it couldn't have been any more romantic. 



It was mid March and still quite cold so we decided to stop off for a spot of tea on the way home and stumbled across a place called Yumchaa near to Camden tube station. It has hundreds of flavoured teas to choose from, delicious home-made cake and the furniture is completely mismatched and kooky which gives the place a lovely charm and atmosphere. I felt so cozy with my wooly hat on, clasping the cup to warm up my hands, but it's not just a pick me up for the cold weather. I returned recently on a very hot day this summer and they were serving iced tea. It was just as lovely as I'd remembered and we sat on the sofas by the window, people watching for hours. I'm so glad that I didn't bother searching my voucher apps for a 2-4-1 deal in Cafe Rouge! Yumchaa is one of my most favourite places in London (second to Primrose Hill) and made the best date imaginable even better.

Thanks Danielle!

Friday, 28 September 2012

The best breakfast in town?

I set off to review the Riding House Café on what turned out to be one of the hottest days of the summer. I was feeling a little bit grumpy about the fact that I wasn't going to be able to sit outside, until I arrived (sweltering at 10.30 in the morning!) to be greeted by a sunny smile, as cheerful as anything outside, and blissful air-conditioning!

After being shown to our gorgeously squishy banquette seat by the window (nearly outside!) my first port of call was the loo. Girls always like to know what the loos are like, and the answer here is very cool. We're talking exposed brickwork, a simple copper pipe for a tap, and a matching metal clad Dyson hand dryer. Best of all? The basin and dryer are in the cubicle so no boring queuing up with wet hands.


Anyway, back upstairs and the quirky design details continue. Stuffed squirrel wall lights, a long communal table made form reclaimed timber and using scaffolding as legs, oversized hanging lampshades… it should feel gimmicky but it doesn't. There's just enough kitsch detail combined with seriously good design that it really works. As an interior designer by training I was impressed by all the little touches (the blue water glasses, enamel water jugs and smoothies served in milk bottles) and I also loved the fabulous New York style bar lined with comfy blue leather stools. I would happily come here on my own and sit at the bar, but clearly some cocktails with a glamorous date would be even better! There'd definitely be a great, buzzy vibe in the evenings.


So, on to the food. We came for brunch, which is what the Riding House Café is famed for. It works so well as a date because of it's informal nature and the fact that it can lead on to a whole day spent together… We both started with delicious smoothies served in half-pint milk bottles. I followed this with the legendary buttermilk pancakes. They were amazing and definitely the best I've had this side of the U.S. I tried to be good by not eating the clotted cream that came with them but let's be honest; brunch here is not the place to be good! 


Despite not needing it I then had (perfectly cooked) poached eggs with a chorizo hash brown and baby spinach on the side. My idea of heaven. My date went for the brilliantly named "Full and Proper English Breakfast" with a huge slice of black pudding. The black pudding wasn't on the menu but he asked for it and got it - great service.


In fact, the service in general was excellent with lots of friendly staff milling around, adding to the great atmosphere. This place gets a huge thumbs up from me and I'll be back again for a brunch and definitely some post Oxford Street shopping cocktails with the girls!

My top tip?  Breakfast ends at 11:30 so make sure you get there in time!


Monday, 24 September 2012

The Jugged Hare



We sent the lovely Charlotte off to review The Jugged Hare with her date... it made me laugh when she submitted her review and emailed me to say the following:

"This place really is a man’s pub (fully of city boys) – I was one of the only women eating, and the veggie option on the menu said “Vegetarian - £12” with no explanation. Quite funny. 

At the same time I’d really recommend it. Just not if you’re a girly girl or a veggie! 

There are pigs heads in a glass cabinet as you go to the loo and stags heads on the walls. Right up my street but not for all! "

Intrigued? Click here to read of her full review and see what she made of it. But it's safe to say, she'll be back!





Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Champagne + Fromage


Serving two of France's greatest exports (aside from Tintin and Breton tops), Champagne + Fromage is un peitit bijou!


So, the other night I took my newly acquired husband to Champagne + Fromage for more than drinks but less than dinner... Located a stones throw from Covent Garden, in the heart of theatre land, this tiny French bistro is the perfect place for a pre-theatre dinner or a quick post-show glass of fizz. We met in  Covent Garden (always nice to start the evening with a trip to Zara!) and then wove our way through the piazza, dodging street entertainers before arriving at Champagne + Fromage. Don't be put off by the busy road, just head straight inside. It's a charmingly rustic shop cum bistro where you'll be greeted with a wonderfully haphazard interior full of mismatched furniture, displays of champagne, cheese and charcuterie and an overriding feeling of Gallic authenticity.

We arrived half an hour early but this wasn't a problem for our charming (and seriously well informed) French waitress. Having talked us through the food and drink on offer (in such a strong French accent we couldn't totally understand everything, but obviously pretended we did!) our waitress served us a cheese board, followed by a charcuterie board and finally a tartine of our choice, all paired with a delicious champagne of course.
                     

These boards of food are perfect for a date as they necessitate a very sociable way of eating. Not good if you are greedy/unaccustomed to sharing! Having to share my Savoyarde tartine was probably the first serious test of our marriage. The portions of the charcuterie in particular are very generous so perhaps order one board at a time and see if you need more? That's the beauty of this place, you can have as much or as little as you want and it is all incredibly relaxed. 

Make sure you ask about what you're eating and drinking as the staff are very friendly and unbelievably well informed. You'll discover that the grower champagnes come from small vineyards, some of no more than 5 hectares, and that the finished product is a real labour of love all the way from the grape to the bottle. The delicious cheeses are of the same quality, all sourced from tiny suppliers across the channel.

To sum up… we had a brilliant evening at Champagne + Fromage. The clientele were mixed which added to the atmosphere and definitely gave us something to talk about!  In one corner we saw a couple indulging in a passionate embrace - so very French - while at another table two older couples were obviously enjoying a pre-theatre glass of fizz before heading off to catch a show. It's also worth remembering that you get tipsy pretty quickly on champagne (or at least I do!) which makes it great for an early days date as the conversation should start flowing fairly swiftly…


Miss Mary's top tip: Dress warmly as the place has to be kept cold for the cheese. No joke, I had to wrap my scarf around me legs - not a great look for a first date!


Monday, 3 September 2012

Queen of Hoxton


We sent the lovely beauty blogger, B Byrom off on a date to Queen of Hoxton to review it for The Great Date Guide... here's what she made of it!


To start your date, meet on Shoreditch High Street and pop into The Foxcroft and Ginger (which is left out of Shoreditch station above the end of the new row of shops on the high street) where you can sit under umbrellas and look down on the world below whilst enjoying a pre dinner drink. It’s then just a short walk across the high street and down a few back streets to Queen of Hoxton. 

On arrival you are presented with quite a dark room, lit by exposed light bulbs intertwined with ivy.  The walls are covered with graffiti with what looks like images of 80s or 90s computer games, which is appropriate as there are various games strewn around; a pin ball machine, foosball table and real computer games too.   These childhood games are a perfect icebreaker at the start of the date whilst sipping on one of the deliciously grownup cocktails on offer.

After your cocktail head up to the roof garden to get some more drinks, and order your food. Several flights of stairs later the roof opens out onto patches of fake lawn covered in a variety of styles of picnic benches and tables! Flowers, bunting and fairy lights are hung all around making the place look absolutely magical. There is a really buzzy atmosphere up on the roof, plenty of people come here even on a weeknight, so it’s a good idea to arrive early and get a good spot. There is also the option of queuing for a set of wireless headphones to watch a film on the large projector screen, details of what is showing can be found on their website. 


At the far end of the garden is a BBQ and bar where food and drinks can be ordered. The menu is small but well chosen for the time of year, as well as being easy to eat should you find yourself perching on a bench! The burgers are a bit mean, but the halloumi salad is highly recommended. The staff are very helpful and friendly and no one seems to wait long for food despite the fact it’s always quite busy.

At the start of the film tables are quickly and efficiently put to one side and rows of chairs set up, if you aren’t staying for the film you will be asked to leave the roof which was a shame but this could be an opportunity to check out what is happening on in the basement - a wide variety of DJ's and events are on offer depending on the night.

Don't let the fact that it is open air put you off should you be planning a trip later on in the year, they erect a huge wigwam in the winter and the food is changed accordingly, there is even marshmallow toasting and hot chocolate, great for cosying up with your date!

This place is ideal for a fun, informal, early date. There is plenty to entertain you if you’re stuck for conversation and the location is great, even if you don't live east, as it is so close to the station.


P.s. Click here to read the official review on our website...

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Top 10 London Date Venues

Thanks to a well timed tweet we discovered this fab list of great date venues from Looking for Love in London and had to share it with you! 

"Despite having had more than my fair share of shoddy date venues over the years (Cattle Grid was just one of many!), I have also been taken to some lovely places too. My most recent fave was Four O Nine which I’ve already talked about on the blog, so here are 10 other places which I recommend (in no particular order)…" 


This may not look a very exciting choice at first glance, but this has to be one of the most memorable date venues I’ve been taken to – there are a few Breakfast Club’s around London, but I’m specifically talking about the one at Spitalfields. I went here on a first date about a year ago and was slightly confused when the guy picked a place more suited to a breakfast/brunch date as his venue of choice for after work drinks. Once we got there and he went up to a waitress and told her “We’re here to see The Mayor” I thought he was definitely off his rocker!! But this was, in fact, the code that meant she then opened up a ‘Smeg fridge’ in the café and lead us through it(!) and downstairs to a funky hidden away cocktail bar called The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town. (They ask you to leave through a different door so as to not spoil the Smeg fridge secret.) I think it’s a really fun gimmick for a first date and definitely helps break the ice…and now you know the code, go and try it out!


Talking of gimmicks, the entrance to the lounge bar at Callooh Callay is in a similar vein to the Smeg fridge door. This is a fun, quirky bar in Shoreditch which I went to a couple of years ago now (on another first date!). To get from the main bar to the lounge bar you go through a huge old-school Narnia-esque wardrobe. All the furniture/décor is retro too so again it makes for a first date venue which is a bit different to the norm.

From one extreme to another, Aqua is just off Regent Street and is much sleeker and more modern. It has two restaurants – a Japanese one (Aqua Kyoto) and a Spanish/tapas one (Aqua Nueva) but I’ve only ever been there for drinks at Aqua Spirit. There is an ok indoor bar area (nothing too special), but what I liked about it was the outside rooftop terrace, which is perfect as we’re heading towards Summer and (hopefully) some sunshine! The drinks are pretty pricey but it’s nice for a pre-dinner drink/yummy cocktail. My first experience of it was slightly tainted by the fact I was with Mr Baileys (and yes, he drank Baileys on a sunny rooftop!), but the fact that I still loved it means it must have been good!

I’ve been taken to Gordon’s Wine Bar by FOUR different guys, meaning it’s clearly not the most original recommendation to make. It's just by Embankment, and with a cosy atmosphere and copious amounts of wine, I see it as a pretty fail-safe date venue (as clearly so do a lot of guys!) It's also the oldest wine bar in London, don't you know! Although there is a small outdoor area, I think it’s much more of a Winter place, especially as it has an ‘underground’ feel to it and lots of candles, which makes it feel uber snug when it’s freezing/raining outside.
As Vertigo 42 is a champagne bar at the top of Tower 42 in the City, the main draw to this place is the view! I got taken here by a bit of a knob if I’m honest (a guy with a serious case of short man syndrome – maybe that’s why he picked a venue at such a great height!!) but I can’t deny that the views were pretty awesome. If you’re feeling extra flashy there is also Gary Rhodes’ restaurant, Rhodes 24, in the same building which you could then go on to for some food…I’ve been there for dinner with a friend though and we weren’t massively impressed!

I’ll admit I didn’t really know much about Bluebird until it appeared in pretty much every other episode of Made in Chelsea. When I then started dating a guy who lived just off the King’s Road, he said he would take me there as he was also a big fan of the show (a bit weird, I know)! We went for dinner and it was actually really lovely and much less pretentious than I imagined – the food and cocktails were both yummy, and I’ve been back again since just for drinks. There is a bar, restaurant AND café, so whatever time of day your date is, this is the perfect venue…and there’s also the added bonus that Hugo and Spencer might be sat at the table next to you (although other people might not be as excited by this prospect as me!)

This was another place chosen by Mr Baileys – what he lacked in choice of drinks, he made up for in choice of date venue! Nopi is tucked away off Regent Street so I would never have known about this place. The food was ‘tapas style’ in that you order a bunch of small dishes to share, which did traumatise me slightly as he insisted on ordering (and forcing me to try) rabbit – I had a pet rabbit when I was a kid, so it just felt wrong!! However, I see from the website that rabbit now appears to be off the menu :) The food and ambience was really nice but as we’ve now discovered, I like a gimmick and this has a fab one…just look at the toilets!! Best not to tell your date and then leave it as a surprise for them to discover (and try to find their way back out of)!



8. The OXO Tower
This one is a bit of a cheat as I’ve actually only been to the OXO Tower for lunch with my parents, but I remember thinking that it would be a fab date place. We went in the Summer and were sat on the outside terrace with great views along the river of all the London landmarks that the Southbank has to offer. It is split into the more pricey ‘Restaurant’ and the more reasonable ‘Brasserie’ – we went to the Brasserie and the food was gorgeous and beautifully presented so I would say save your pennies and go there!



9. All Star Lanes
Some people might scoff at the idea of going bowling on a date when you are approaching the age of 30 but I think it can be great fun, especially if you get to the point where you think there may be issues of awkward conversation pauses if you go for dinner again on the next date. Also, I must point out that I’m not suggesting you go and hang out with the teenagers at Hollywood Bowl but instead that you do ‘grown-up bowling’ (as I call it!) at All Star Lanes. There are a few around London and they’re cute and retro themed…and have proper bars (alcohol is always a plus)!



I think a great fourth/fifth date idea is a good old Sunday pub lunch – I say fourth/fifth date as you have to be at the point where you feel comfortable enough with the guy to (a) not need vast quantities of alcohol to be involved, and (b) be able to scoff a full-on Sunday roast in front of him! Obviously there are tons of good places around London for this but a couple which I love in my neck of the woods are The Avalon and The Windmill on the Common. 



Sorry, that turned into a bit of an essay…but do go and try them out if you’ve not already been! :) 

Thanks so much Looking for Love in London, keep up the good work!


Friday, 10 August 2012

Dating Olympics

So, as we come towards the end of these wonderful Olympics, we thought it was time to do the noble thing and assist the good Lord Coe in his quest to ‘inspire a generation’. It's possible, of course, that finding unique and entertaining dating activities wasn't exactly what he had in mind for the legacy of London 2012, but all the same, every little helps... right?

The Rowing Date

A real favourite of The Great Date Guide and surprisingly easy to achieve even within central London. For the dating version we’d suggest a bit more of a paddle than the exploits you’ve been watching on Dorney Lake, and in this case, adding a glass or two of Rosé and a few nibbles tends to get the best results. Try the Serpentine boating lake in London’s Hyde Park, or hire a boat in Richmond for a gloriously scenic trip to Ham House.



The Cycle Classic

One of Team GB’s most successful disciplines, so why not give it a go yourself with a bicycle themed date. Perhaps the Velodrome is not the most romantic of locations, so try a Boris Bike cycle ride around central London’s most iconic spots, or perhaps a sunny cycle in the slice of the countryside that is Richmond Park, complete with champagne and a luxury picnic? Lycra, of course, is optional…

                                                                                             Ⓒ Transport For London


A Spot of Gymnastics

Don’t worry, we're not suggesting you attempt a floor routine to win your date’s respect  (although a spot of trampolining could work?) Instead, head out of central London and test your acrobatic skills with a trial of Sphering. Rolling down a hill at 30mph strapped into a giant ball has just got to count as sport hasn’t it?





Wet and Wonderful


Show off your strokes with a watery date on top of London’s swanky The Berkeley Hotel. With a roof top pool and spa to tempt even the most water-shy daters amongst you, this makes a truly exclusive and glamorous date if you’re prepared to splash out a bit (....ahem...).

Enjoy!

Miss Mary x

Friday, 3 August 2012

London Wonderground: A great place for a date


One of our intrepid daters dropped us an email today to say that they'd discovered the London Wonderground earlier in the week and reckoned it made a pretty great date! This is what they had to say...

We stumbled upon this amazing site when strolling down the Southbank on a glorious Wednesday afternoon. The excitement built as we could see the fairground ride towering above the Thames, just below the London Eye. Our inner child couldn’t resist the thought of swinging around a pole at stratospheric heights over the gorgeous city of London!


The temporary Wonderground has two fairground rides, including this carousel at dizzying heights, and a slightly tamer roller-coaster. On approaching the rides, we soon realised that there is loads more to this festival than just two fab rides. At the centre of London Wonderground is a seating area that looks like John Wayne could appear at any moment, surrounded by charming wooden stalls hosted by the likes of Pimms and Magners. Delicious. Could this festival have been made for us?!? There are wonderful nooks and crannies to hide in and talk the evening away and soak up the atmosphere of London’s Southbank.


Following our refreshment of Pimms in a secluded, wooded corner of the festival, we explored the area to find that there was so much more to drink in: cabaret, comedy and music. We didn’t have time to indulge further but we will certainly be back, armed with a plan. This time we had an appointment to make at Wahaca which was the perfect way to end our exhilarating day at the fair: a vibrant, distracting and delicious venue to complement our adventures down the road!



The London Wonderground can be found at Jubilee Gardens, off Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XX

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

DoingSomething Fun?

We're really chuffed to bring you a guest post from our pals at the truly exciting internet dating site, 'DoingSomething', where picking a great date is about more than just choosing the right person. It's sort of what you'd get if you stir-fried a standard internet dating site with, let's say, The Great Date Guide. Come to think of it, why on earth didn't we think of that?!!! Well, we think they're just fab, and with the runaway success they're having, they're here to stay. Time then to get in on the action…



London’s latest addition to the dating scene is turning internet
 dating on its head - and giving it it a good old shake until fun falls out of its pockets. 

If you haven’t heard of DoingSomething yet, you soon will. It's the
‘new dating site everyone’s talking about’, so says Grazia.
 It's a really simple idea and it's growing fast.
 


The premise: Dating’s more FUN when you’re DoingSomething.

 


So out goes the long profile description with what you and your best
friend got up to aged 5, and in comes meeting someone and DoingSomething 
fun. Hence the name. It could mean anything from catching the latest
 Pop Up Screening, going for a game of free ping pong in one of 
London’s parks, or doing something super zany like walking across the 
roof of the 02. Yes, you can do that.



DoingSomething takes away the inherent awkwardness on a first date, and what's more, what people say they want to do gives a really neat snapshot of who they 
are. Someone who suggests Roller Disco as a date idea is most likely a
 different sort of person to someone who suggests a medieval tapestry weaving
 weekend retreat. You can add as many different dates as you want to 
your profile - so there’s no need to feel ‘boxed’ in. But you catch
 our drift. 

All in all it takes dating and lightens it up a bit.  

Paul, a
 DoingSomething member, says; ‘It's much more fun than other dating sites. It 
doesn’t feel like people are on there desperately searching for the 
love of their life. It’s more about Londoners with a sense of humour, 
out to have a good time.’

 Sounds good to us. 



It’s free to make a profile on DoingSomething, so come on, get going today!





Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Clos Maggiore

With a magical garden dining room in the heart of Covent Garden, is this London's most romantic restaurant?


I arrived at Clos Maggiore with high expectations. I'd heard it described as London's most romantic restaurant many, many times! First things first, I was surprised at it's amazingly central location. Over the years I've spent a lot of time in Covent Garden but I'd never even noticed the restaurant. That's a good sign in my opinion - discreet. Upon entering you're immediately struck by the charming service and cosy interior. If you're coming on a date make sure you ask to be seated in the garden room at the rear of the restaurant. The front is still attractive, but it's the fairy lit garden room which all the fuss is about.

With a clever use of mirrors and twinkling lights you feel as though you've entered a never-ending, enchanted garden. The setting really is unique and provides the perfect backdrop to any special occasion, all year round. In the summer you'll love the fully retractable glass roof and in the winter the reflections of the crackling open fire, the candles and the starlight makes for a truly magical experience.

The atmosphere is warm and inviting with tables squashed in (in a good way, although I did have to squeeze in to get to my seat!) and comfortable upholstered armchairs encouraging you to linger over your meal. There is a wonderful buzzy feel, so often missing in "smart" restaurants. 

Dinner starts with rustic breadsticks and delicious homemade dips. You know you're in for a good night when the taste of truffle hits your lips before you've even ordered your food!

Following a refreshing gazpacho amuse bouche we chose hand picked Devon crab and marjoram remoulade (with avocado, grapefruit, green apple and smoked anchovies mayonnaise - what an intense combination of flavours!), and Sicilian aubergine and fig caponata with provencal goat’s cheese, parmesan sablé and lavender honey as our starters. They were both beautifully presented, exquisitely fragranced and offering a riot of colour on our plates.

For his main course my date chose the slow cooked fillet of Cornish cod ‘Rougaille’ with vermicelli, shellfish and Iberico chorizo sauce, whilst I opted for hand rolled papardella with seasonal wild mushrooms and Reggiano parmesan. I could smell the wonderful truffle before my pasta even arrived at the table, and when it did arrive it looked, and tasted, fantastic! It was incredibly rich but then that's French food for you, and asking for a dish containing mushrooms, truffle, cream and cheese is not going to leave you feeling fresh and light. It came as something of a shock to a recent participant of the Clean and Lean diet ! Thank goodness for the fantastic sommelier and his excellent choice of a German Chardonnay which cut straight through the woody richness of the mushrooms and truffle. It really was the perfect accompaniment to my food, and it's worth mentioning that he had over 2000 bins to choose from - no mean feat!

Despite being full we valiantly pressed on and chose our deserts. My date opting for Eaton Mess (which turned out to be an inspired DIY affair) while I chose simple vanilla ice cream, unable to eat anything more elaborate. Expecting two scoops of ice cream in a tall stemmed glass I was pleasantly surprised to find that the attention to detail, evident throughout the whole evening, did not cease even when faced with the simplest of desert order. My homemade vanilla ice-cream came on a bed of meringue which was lined with a base layer of chocolate sauce, undetectable until you had your first mouthful. It was delicious and I loved the fact that so much attention had been given to such a humble order!

After dessert we were served delicious petit fours with our coffee. This proved another point I'd heard about Clos Maggiore - that it is incredibly good value, considering the quality of the food, the level of service and all the delicious extras, not to mention the romantic setting.

Having been wined and dined in the magical garden room I have to agree that Clos Maggiore certainly is one of London's most romantic restaurants, and with it's fantastic location it would be a perfect companion to a date at the Royal Opera House. Valentine's Day next year? I think you'll find it's already booked…

Top tip: check the timings carefully when you book as they may need your table back for the post theatre crowd.


33 King Street, Covent Garden, WC2E 8JD
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7379 9696
Fax: +44 (0)20 7379 6322
Email: enquiries@closmaggiore.com

Friday, 22 June 2012

For Art Lovers...



We've been talking about Contemporary Key for a while now, and this months tour looks like it's going to be one of their best. In case you're still in the dark here, they specialise in providing intimate (15 people max) contemporary art tours complete with a chance to socialise over a coffee or a cocktail. 

Each month they head to a different London location, with June's tour (30th June, 2 - 4pm) heading to Peckham. Here you'll get to visit exhibitions in some of the best local galleries (Son Gallery, Hannah Barry Gallery and Sunday Painter Gallery) as well as having a sneaky look around some of the art studios in The Sunday Painter. Importantly, you'll then finish off with drinks on their rooftop overlooking the lovely Peckham. What's more, when the tour itself is over, participants are invited to the opening party of Bold Tendencies and Franks Cafe, the sculpture park and Campari bar located in a disused multi-storey car park - how very contemporary…!

For more information and to book onto this month's tour, contact lucinda@contemporarykey.co.uk




Thursday, 7 June 2012

Are you fit... to date?

Fancy taking your search for romance to a totally different and very much more sweaty level?! Enter Fit2Date, the revolutionary new exercise programme from Australia where fit singles sweat it out together in the hope of meeting their perfect match. It's all about having fun and meeting like minded people, 'taking the ipod from the ears of the sporty set and adding a human element'. Part of the work out sessions involve team exercises, giving plenty of opportunity to chat between gasps and with all those exercise induced endorphins floating around... well who knows!

Fit2Date has been hugely successful in Australia and is launching this June in the UK with a run of 'mega meets', one of which is on Clapham Common on Saturday 23rd of June. This 2 hour session costs just £35, but if you like the idea and you want to sample it for free, come to Clapham Common this coming Saturday (9th June) at 10am for a 1hr sneak peak.

For more information check out their website, or email claire@fit2date.co.uk

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

June















There's just sooooo much going on this month in London, what with The Queen's Jubilee, Taste of London Restaurant Festival, the opening of both Regent's Park Open Air Theatre and Holland Park Opera, Wimbledon, Royal Ascot… 

I mean, REALLY! How on earth are we going to find time to fit it all in?

(Follow this link for our full review: What's On - June 2012)

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Latest additions



Food lovers unite, our 2 latest date suggestions are for those of us who are SERIOUS about food. From rather different ends of the spectrum, meet Medlar in Chelsea (fine dining with an emphasis on seasonal delights) and Roundhouse in Wandsworth (sister to on of our favourite locals, The Lighthouse in Battersea). Whether it's a gastropub with a laid back, cozy vibe you're hankering for, or a rather more refined gastronomic adventure, we reckon these 2 cover the bases pretty nicely!




Tuesday, 17 April 2012

All the single ladies, all the single ladies...

It's clearly TV dating show season, as we've found you yet another opportunity for TV glory… 

This time it's a Channel 4 prime time show, looking for single women who could do with a boost in their appearance, confidence and dating know how. It promises to be a really fun show, bringing the very best out of women who for one reason or another have had a tough time in the dating world as of late. Think awesome makeovers, exciting date locations and plenty of glamour.  

If you're interested, get in touch prontissimo.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Blogs!

Admittedly I'm a bit late to the party, but I'm really getting into blogs at the moment so I thought I'd share a couple of my current faves with you. It's a pretty random selection and nothing to do with great dates in London!

Inspiring Interiors - My daily fix of amazing interiors from Sweden to Peru via England and New England! Kifus does an amazing job of regularly updating and it really does what it says on the tin… inspires! 

B's Beauty Blog - A friend of mine has just started blogging about beauty treatments. Considering she is obsessed with them it's going to be one to watch! 

Sally Serves It Up - You've probably seen me retweet some of Sally's delicious recipes already but if you haven't you should definitely take a look. Written in a down-to-earth way Sally gives great tips on healthy meals for busy working peeps. 


Wearing It Today - A brilliant (jealousy inducing) daily fashion blog from the super stylish editor of Red Magazine. It's inspiring but achievable at the same time and it always cheers up a day in the office when the newsletter pings up on my screen! 

Before the Big Day - I've got to mention it… anyone getting married then this blog is brilliant. Full of ideas from DIY to full blown glamour. It's such a great resource. 

I'd love to know what your favourite blogs are... come on, share and share alike!

Miss Mary xxxx

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Calling all you singles...

Are you single? Would you like to do something about it? Fancy being on TV?

Yes, rather excitingly, we've just heard that there's going to be a brand new dating show on E4, and they'd like you to take part. They need single guys (aged 18 - 35) and single girls (over 18yrs) plus their Dads… sounds hysterical to me!

So, if you're keen to sort out your love life in front of the nation, here's your chance...


(Don't panic boys, I know that this flyer doesn't mention that they're looking for single guys, but we're assured they are!)

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Walk Explorer


If you're a fan of the romantic stroll, whether meandering through open countryside or exploring secret parts of the city, we've found a rather wonderful app to help you in your quest. It's called Walk Explorer and it's crammed full of great little walks for you and your date!

It's very simple, but we think really rather brilliant. Just download the app to your iphone and there you have it, a pocket sized guide to all of the best walks around, handily organised in order of distance from your current location. Lots of the walks are free to download and even the ones that aren't are all under £2.50 - can't say fairer than that!

Of course we simply had to jump on the bandwagon on this one, so if you have a quick search for 'Romantic London', you may just find a GDG favourite...

   

Come and visit us at www.thegreatdateguide.com, for more inspired date ideas.