The biggest celebration of love in our yearly calendar is almost here. No, we’re not talking about Valentine’s Day (bleurgh… except we do obviously cover this at length elsewhere), we’re referring to Galentine’s, the annual day of “ladies celebrating ladies”, first coined by the character Leslie Knope in comedy series Parks and Recreation. Knope (played by the hilarious Amy Poehler) gathers her best girlfriends every year on 13 February to “kick it, breakfast-style” and celebrate womanhood in all its glory.
Now, we get that the whole thing is a tad problematic – why do we need a special day to celebrate our gal pals? Why is it assumed that women need breakfast food, cocktails or cake in order to celebrate womanhood? Why segregate the sexes at all? These are all valid questions we should definitely debate at some point but, at the risk of sounding facetious, if Galentine’s is an excuse to eat and drink with people we like, we’re going with it. Sorry, not sorry.
There are obviously a hundred different ways you can celebrate the day, from cultural outings to a sleepover in your pyjamas, but since we’re all about the eating and drinking here, we’ve put together a little foodie inspo for you below. There are options for breakfast/brunch, afternoon tea, dinner, and after-dinner drinks at various locations around London (all fabulous, obvs) so whether you’re drinking, dining or drinking and dining – the winning combination – you’re sure to find something to suit. Happy Galentine’s Day!
Best Galentine’s Day restaurants for breakfast or brunch
If you want to stick to Galentine’s tradition, you need to enjoy an Instagram-worthy breakfast or brunch. Whether you decide to stay virtuous with the likes of an acai bowl and fresh juice or say “Knope” to that and go big on pancakes and mimosas, here are four excellent spots to do it at:
What: Not only is the dining room at The Wolseley utterly stunning, the breakfast offering here is just as pretty as the interiors. There are plenty of healthy choices, but when it comes to breakfast/brunch with your gal pals, you really ought to plump for a pile of pillowy pancakes. Choose from toppings including maple syrup, bacon and berries.
Where: St James’s
Why: Known for its pastel-coloured lattes and coconut BLT, Farm Girl is a great place to head for a spot of brunch. Insta-friendly, but still tasty, dishes include the classic avocado on toast - here topped with radish and a poached egg - and buttermilk pancakes topped with maple syrup, berries and coconut shavings.
Where: Notting Hill and Chelsea
The Ivy Market Grill
Why: Buzzy, classy, and with that unmistakable Ivy chic, this second Covent Garden eatery serves up all the classics, from a full English to buttermilk pancakes and eggs various ways. Attentive staff and a lively atmosphere make The Ivy Market Grill a top spot to while away a couple of hours over a few Champagne cocktails with your friends.
Where: Covent Garden
Why: Isabel’s truly gorgeous dining room is a popular choice for Mayfair’s fashion crowd and serves up a delicious breakfast. While putting the world to rights, you can tuck into the likes of a toasted ham and cheese croissant, scrambled eggs with salmon or a fruit and yoghurt bowl. Don’t be afraid to pair it with a glass of champers either…we certainly won’t judge.
Best Galentine’s Day places for afternoon tea
Want to have a lie in on the big day? Go for a chic afternoon tea instead. Some of our picks below are designed with the sweet-toothed in mind, while others are more suited to a boozier bunch. Each one is beautiful to behold though. Check them out:
Gallery at Sketch
Why: A trip to Sketch is basically a Londoner rite of passage, so what better day to visit than Galentine’s? Head here for a classy afternoon tea which will feature finger sandwiches followed by scones with clotted cream and jam, and other sweet treats such as a coconut and cranberry marshmallow. Extra points for snapping a selfie in the famous egg-shaped loos.
The Collins Room at The Berkeley
Why: A homage to Autumn-Winter designs taking the catwalks by storm, the haute couture afternoon tea at The Berkeley is ideal for fashion-minded friends this Galentine’s. Its chic Prêt-à-Portea afternoon tea includes a collection of elegant canapés and tea sandwiches, alongside gorgeous sweet treats such as the neon pink Molly Goddard design (as seen on Killing Eve), reimagined in spun sugar and finished at your table with glitter.
Cut at 45 Park Lane
Why: If your friends are of a savoury-toothed disposition, try out this US-style take on the most British of traditions. ‘CUTcakes & Tea’ swaps out conventional finger sandwiches for the likes of a Wagyu beef slider with garlic aioli, while sweet treats are given an American twist: think chocolate peanut butter bars and key lime pie.
Mr Fogg’s Residence
Why: If you’re looking to day drink this Galentine’s (and why wouldn’t you be?), we’d suggest enjoying the Mr Fogg’s Tipsy Tea, which features Champagne and gin-infused teas. This hearty take on a classic tea sees finger sandwiches replaced with miniature rolls, while the sweet treats include fun-sized cakes, tray bakes and macarons.
Best Galentine’s Day restaurants for dinner
If you’ve got to work this Galentine’s (the world is a cruel place), then celebrate with your gal pals at dinner instead. These restaurants are all super-stylish, serve great food and drinks, and promise to impress, both on Instagram and IRL.
Bob Bob Ricard
Why: Bob Bob will help to really get the party started with its famous ‘press for Champagne’ buttons on every table. The menu of pimped-up comfort food is also a treat: gorge on dishes such as the Champagne, chicken and mushroom pie or the lobster mac ‘n’ cheese. Crème brûlée, flambéd at the table, is the only acceptable way to finish up your meal.
Why: This all-pink joint has all the fun of fast food, while being completely vegan. Order at the counter before sitting down to enjoy the likes of vegan chocolate milkshakes, paired with plant-based burgers and hotdogs. For dessert, there’s soft-serve with toppings and a velvety avocado and chocolate mousse. Delicious and virtuous!
Why: One of London’s most Instagrammed restaurants, Dalloway is a truly gorgeous space for dinner with the squad. Sharing dishes that will hit the spot include a truffle cheese fondue, while other comforting dishes (that you can have all to yourself) could mean beer-battered fish & chips, or pan-roasted venison served with red cabbage and carrot purée.
Why: Okay, so Scarlett Green is best known for its all-day brunch offering (served until 4pm), but we promise that the dinner menu is worth a punt too. Our top picks from the Antipodean-inspired menu include a vegemite, truffle and cheese doughnut, and thick halloumi fries which come served with a slick of pomegranate yoghurt. And be sure to treat yourself to the Melbourne Mars Bar cheesecake ball.
Best Galentine’s Day places for after-dinner cocktails
Whether you’re following on from your Galentine’s dinner or meeting straight from work, these trendy bars promise a good time. Delicious sips, stylish surroundings and, in some cases, spectacular views are standard at these top spots:
Duck & Waffle
Why: 40 floors high and boasting spectacular views of the capital, Duck & Waffle is worth getting dressed up for. Open 24 hours, the bar here is best suited to smaller groups, and you can expect to try experimental cocktails such as a White Chocolate Milk Punch or a Fig and Chestnut Manhattan.
Why: Boasting an outdoor terrace that overlooks London’s skyscrapers, Aviary is the place to go for drinks with a view. I know what you’re thinking – surely it will be too cold to be outside? Well fear not, as Aviary comes equipped with outdoor heaters and blankets, so you can snuggle and sip with your besties.
The Coral Room
Why: Found in the same hotel as Dalloway Terrace, this lush burnt-orange bar is the picture of sophistication. There’s a selection of English sparkling wines to enjoy, while cocktails include the likes of an Espresso Martini and a Rum Old Fashioned. Fancy a snack? Devon crab on toast or truffle and parmesan chips should do the job.
Why: You’ve definitely seen someone on your Instagram feed posing in front of this venue’s neon pink ‘well behaved women don’t make history’ sign. The old saying goes ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ so join the crowds at this glitter-dusted, all-pink bar, where you can dance to disco tunes while sipping on cocktails such as a Parma Violet Femme.
Where: Waterloo and Shoreditch
Feeling a little loved up after all? Check out our guide to London’s most romantic restaurants