Monday, 28 January 2013

It's Competition Time!

We've teamed up with the talented team at L'atelier des Chefs to bring you a great competition this month. W're giving away a pair of vouchers to one of their fantastic cookery classes in London.
If the idea of rustling up a romantic dinner for your other half this Valentine's Day fills you with dread, then might we suggest a trip to the lovely folk at L'atelier des Chefs?

Their cooking classes are designed to fit into the lives of busy Londoners, helping you to master some key cooking skills, or to learn how to deliver a delicious meal all within a time frame that suits you. If you've literally only got a lunch hour then one of their 30 minute classes would be perfect. But, if your boss is a little more relaxed then we'd recommend the 60 minute classes which take place at various times throughout the day, Monday to Saturday. Lasting just one hour, these classes are designed to inspire you with dishes that are easy to replicate at home, expanding your recipe repertoire as you pick up new culinary skills. All of which means… impressing your date/husband/wife/long-suffering mealtime companion!

This Valentine's Day we've got a pair of gift cards to give away to a lucky winner, allowing you and your date the opportunity to improve your culinary skills together!

Head over to our website for the full details… it's easy peasy to enter, all you'll have to do is tell us who you'd love to cook a romantic meal for!

p.s. the winner will be announced on Valentine's Day but the vouchers are valid for a year.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Valentine's at The Langham

Here at the Great Date Guide we obviously love Valentine's Day! So, we thought we'd share with you all the info we're being sent about special Valentine's events in London. We'll be keeping you updated as soon as we hear things, but first off, it's The Langham, London with it's incredible Valentine's afternoon tea...

Enjoy sugar, spice and all things nice in the dazzling Palm Court this Valentines from £42.50 per person. Their award winning Pastry Chef, Cherish Finden, has created something special to tantalise your taste buds including a Saint Valentine Macaroon, Puppy Love Cookie and more. These pictures have us swooning in the office - especially the heart shaped scones and macaroons!

Available on Valentine’s Day. 

p.s. If you fancy making a day, or even a weekend of it then The Langham also offers...

A Magic Rose cocktail in their bar, Artesian. Created by award-winning Head Bartender Alex Kratena, Magic Rose is Laurent-Perrier Rose Champagne poured over a raspberry, lychee and rose sorbet.  Available from 11th – 17th February and priced at £16. 

For dinner experience Roux at The Landau’s 7-course Valentine Day menu including Spit-roast fillet of aged Hereford beef with truffled hollandaise and Yorkshire rhubarb pavlova with coconut chantilly and alphonso mango dressing. Available Valentine’s Day only priced at £95 per person.

Stay ‘Happily Ever After’ and take the elevator home. Savour a bottle of Laurent-Perrier Champagne and Charbonnel et Walker pink Champagne truffles in your room, the perfect start to a romantic evening before enjoying a pre-dinner martini or aperitif in the glamorous Artesian, recently voted the ‘World’s Best Bar’. The Happily Ever After package includes a rose petal turndown, full English breakfast, a complimentary late check-out until 2pm plus a souvenir gift from The Langham Book Butler and is priced from £443 per room per night. 

Thursday, 17 January 2013

What makes a great dinner date?

New Year's Resolution 1: Dinner out at least once a month.

Well we're over half way through January now, so it's clearly time for me to get booking if I'm not to break this one in the very first month. But it's got me thinking, how do you make a dinner date, well, great?

I've always found it quite hard to pinpoint exactly what it is about a restaurant that makes it work for dates. It sort of either has it or it hasn't, doesn't it? Think of your absolutely favourite dating spots, and I bet they're all totally different from each other. It's something about the 'vibe' that needs to be just right, and I've been trying to work out exactly how that's done...

1) Lighting & Decor: It's amazing how many restaurants look really quite terrible in the daylight, particularly some of the more 'industrial' themed spots. Given the right lighting however, almost any decoration can be given 'the vibe'. Warm, intelligent lighting, clever division of space (little alcoves work brilliantly for creating that dating atmosphere) and space between you and your neighbours are all pretty key. It's got to feel cosy and inviting yet still sleek and chic. Hard to do.

2) Food: Clearly this is pretty important. It's got to be good or really, what's the point? The very best date restaurants in my book are ones where the cuisine on offer enables an element of sharing, like tapas for instance. We love Wahaca for this kind of thing, or El Pirata DeTapas.

3) Drink: Cocktails. Cocktails are always a winner if you ask me. Pre or post-dinner, they add a sparkle of excitement to even the most boring of dates. Yes, a good cocktail menu is a must.

4) Hip factor: The old fashioned, smart, 'white table cloth' type of restaurant just doesn't tick the boxes for dates in my opinion, unless they really are particularly good, and even then I'd never choose one for a first or early days date. What you want is the kind of place that you walk into and feel instantly cooler for doing so. Ideally you want somewhere a little dressy, a little trendy and a little seductive. We love Eight Over Eight in Chelsea for this sort of atmosphere.

5) Service: Yes, we all want to be treated like a favoured local wherever we go. Some places pull this off brilliantly and the results really can be dramatic. It gives you that warm feeling of being wanted and valuable, just the sort of sentiment you need to conjure up on a date.

6) Loos: Nice loos are weirdly high up my list of importance when it comes to restaurants. Nice loos and flattering mirrors. Or is that just me…?!

Miss Mary x

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

What's on in January 2013

Yes, Christmas is over  and once again we find ourselves, with a hangover, in that grey grizzly month of January. But never fear, here at The Great Date Guide we've cherry picked some real corkers to lift your spirits this month, so break open that brand new diary and put some 'dates' in it!

We've got a full list over on the website (here) but one of our favourites for London this month has got to be the amazing new Cirque du Soleil show - Kooza!

The incredible Cirque Du Soleil returns this month with Kooza - an adrenaline rush of acrobatics in a zany kingdom! The new show tells the story of a melancholy loner finding his place in the world and marks a return to the origins of Cirque du Soleil, combining two circus traditions - acrobatic performance and the art of clowning.

Kooza is set in an electrifying and exotic visual world full of surprises, thrills, chills and audacity. Whether you're a Cirque regular or have never been before, we guarantee you'll be amazed! 

Having started on Saturday it runs until the 10th Feb so grab some tickets before they're gone...

P.s. If one of your New Year's resolutions for 2013 was to be more adventurous (I know mine was!) then make your way to the inspiring Adventure Travel Show at Olympia. Tickets start at a budget friendly £8 and you can book them here.