Love is (almost) in the air in London as the most romantic night of the year draws ever closer. Widespread panic is sweeping the capital as partners lament the empty square in the calendar on the 14 February - the one day of the year where public displays of affection are compulsory and couples are expected to flaunt their undying love for the whole world to see.
If you fall into this category and you still haven’t planned anything beyond a Valentine’s Day card for your loved one this year, then it’s time to get a shift on! Regardless of our views on this annual lovefest, if there is one thing we can all agree on here at SquareMeal it’s this; the way to the heart is undoubtedly via the stomach. So, whatever your ambitions are for celebrating on 14 February we recommend incorporating some good food and drink. But why add to the stress by cooking up a fancy Valentine's menu yourself, when you could sit back and let someone do all the work for you with better results and no washing up afterwards? For us it’s a no brainer.
If you’re thinking about going one step (or leap) further and popping the big question, then we recommend checking out our list of the best restaurants for marriage proposals. However, if you’re not a fan of big flouncy gestures, heart shaped puds, and rose petals in your cocktails? No problem. We’ve scouted out all the best offerings the capital has to offer – from the most discreet affairs in laid-back little eateries, to the most extravagant romantic dining experiences that will have you and bae reminiscing all year. So, quit the panicking, take a deep breath and dive in. We’re confident that there will be something here to impress your loved one whatever their ideals.
The Montagu Kitchen, Marylebone
What: The team behind The Montagu Kitchen's Valentine's menu invite couples to embark on a gastronomic journey via a whirlwind of courses - or 'chapters' as it's romantically put. Put together by Executive Chef Roger Olsson, start with a prologue of quail Scotch egg with nero, Cornish squid, prawn and saffron, before working your way through harvested, hooked and farmed courses. The finale is a rhubarb heart paired with mascarpone. It all sounds absolutely divine.
How much: Tasting menu £220 for two people
Book now: The Montagu Kitchen
The Pem, Westminster
What: Sally Abe was crowned the winner of SquareMeal’s Female Chef of The Year Award 2021, and we wouldn’t expect anything less than something truly exceptional from her for Valentine’s Day. To be served on 14 February (also 11 and 12), Sally and Head Chef Laetizia Keating have designed an eight-course set menu with wine pairing, including dishes such as crab royale with violino pumpkin and fines herbes, roast sirloin of Cumbrian beef with herbed mousseline, braised shallots and smoked bone marrow, plus Yorkshire forced rhubarb with white chocolate and rosé wine cloud. Set within the restaurant's gorgeous red and pink art-deco interiors, the setting certainly matches the meal.
Where: 22-28 Broadway, Westminster, London, SW1H 0BH
How much: Eight courses for £125 per person
Book now: The Pem
Mr White’s, Leicester Square
What: Marco Pierre White opened his latest steakhouse Mr White’s at the end of 2021 in Leicester Square, specialising in the sort of food that everyone likes – steak, pizza and pasta. It’s a no-brainer any time of the week, so why not head there on Valentine’s Day to try its special romantic offering? Guests can dine on three courses for £39.95, plus the option to sip on two-for-one cocktails all weekend long (10-14 February). Choose from the likes of meatballs al forno to start, steak with fries for main course and tiramisu to finish.
Where: 20-21 Leicester Square, Leicester Square, London, WC2H 7LH
How much: Three courses for £39.95
Book now: Mr White’s
La Poule au Pot
What: Coming to quintessentially French restaurant La Poule au Pot for one day and one day only is a special three-course offering for its Saint Valentin menu. Decorated with festoons of dried herbs and flowers and bric-a-brac furniture, this rustic spot oozes charm and character - the perfect place to feast on the likes of duck leg confit, cassoulet, salmon with hollandaise and creme brulee.
Where: 231 Ebury Street, London, SW1W 8UT
How much: Three courses for £75
Book now: La Poule au Pot
What: You know what makes a Valentine’s Day meal even more romantic? Stunning views of the River Thames while you dine. And that’s exactly what you get when you eat at Sam’s Riverside in Hammersmith. This year, its usual dinner offering will be replaced with a Valentine’s Day menu on the 14 February, featuring the likes of Devon dressed crab with compressed cucumber, crab mayonnaise and avocado; venison tartare with quail egg and dripping toast; and Dover sole fillets with capers, samphire, brown shrimp and hazelnut meunière. Finish the three-course feast with dark chocolate délice with raspberry and verbena sorbet to share. And don’t forget to start with a bespoke You Had Me at Hello cocktail.
Where: 1 Crisp Road, Hammersmith, London W6 9DN
How much: Three courses for £75 per person
Book now: Sam’s Riverside
The Northall at Corinthia Hotel London
What: If white tablecloth dining is your sort of thing on Valentine’s Day, then book into The Northall at Corinthia Hotel, which will be serving a special four-course menu all weekend long (11, 12 and 14 February). Executive Chef André Garrett’s has devised a meal to take your breath away, kicking off with canapés and an amuse bouche of miso custard, port wine and parmesan cream, followed by a starter of Norfolk quail laqueé with pickled beetroots, black garlic and apple. Next, there’s a fish and a meat course before finally ending with a sharing dessert of Gâteau St Honoré, with raspberry-lychee and rose, and white chocolate sorbet. It’s bound to be divine.
Where: 10a Northumberland Avenue, London WC2N 5AE
How much: Four courses for £120 per person
Book now: The Northall at Corinthia Hotel
Searcys at the Gherkin
What: For a Valentine’s date with an impressive menu and even more impressive views, head to the top of the Gherkin for an experience to remember. From February 11-14, Searcys at the Gherkin will be serving up a Champagne Valentine’s afternoon tea with a glass of Moët & Chandon. Or, for a romantic lunch or dinner, guests can dine on the likes of Aged longhorn beef and black truffle ravioli with bone marrow butter to start, followed by mains of Dover sole fillet, with Portland crab, lemon and brown shrimp beurre noisette, and finish with a decadent Valrhona chocolate dome with raspberry and rose water mousse.
Where: 30 St Mary Axe, London, EC3A 8EP
How much: Three course Valentine’s dinner menu £149 per person, Champagne afternoon tea £65 per person
Book now: Searcys at the Gherkin
What: If the Valentine’s Day offering is even half as good as the usual fare at Fallow, then you’re in for a real treat. The sustainably-focused restaurant is serving a special menu this Valentine’s Day featuring many bold dishes, with a particular focus on whole animal butchery and in showcasing often wasted ingredients. Look out for the restaurant’s signature mushroom parfait, made using bruised mushrooms together with three varieties grown in-house, alongside dishes such as market fish with beetroot and shellfish sauce and a pump street chocolate cremeux.
Where: 2 St James’s Market, St. James's, London, SW1Y 4RP
How much: £78 per person
Book now: Fallow
What: The White City branch of Indian-inspired restaurant Kricket is holding a Valentine’s Day supper club this year, with a bespoke menu that includes oyster pakora with pickled rhubarb and theca; duck, pomegranate, chicory achaar, confit leg aloo tiki; and bebinca, chocolate and blood orange. An optional wine pairing is also available.
Where: 2 Television Centre, 101 Wood Lane, London, W12 7FR
How much: £55 per person including a welcome drink
Book now: Kricket White City
What: Ok, so Blacklock in Covent Garden might not be serving a Valentine’s Day menu this year, but the brand-new site is opening on 14 February which is a cause for celebration in itself! Head down to Blacklock’s biggest restaurant yet to try some of its signature meaty dishes, including cull yaw crumpet, the All In (a mix of beef, pork and lamb skinny chops piled high on charcoal-grilled flatbreads) as well as classic cuts of prime rib and porterhouse to share.
Where: 16a Bedford Street, London, WC2E 9HE
How much: Regular menu prices
Book now: Blacklock Covent Garden
TING Restaurant and Lounge at Shangri-La
What: Running from 11-28 February, TING restaurant and lounge at the Shangri-La is serving a three-course set menu (wine pairing available) at the top of one of London’s most famous skyscrapers. Kick off with the Midnight Delight cocktail (white rum, pineapple juice, lime juice, coconut milk, strawberry purée peach purée, coconut cream, vanilla syrup) before making your way through three courses of elegant French-inspired plates. Highlights include sea scallops with horseradish, beetroot and caviar, camembert fondue with truffle and asparagus and chocolate mousse with cherries, rose and kirsch.
Where: Shangri-La Hotel, 31 St Thomas Street, Southwark, London, SE1 9QU
How much: Three courses for £150 per person, with wine pairing £250
Book now: TING restaurant & lounge
What: D&D London’s roster of restaurants are never short of extravagance and glamour, with Aster being no exceptional to the rule. Choose this Victoria-based spot if you’re hoping to grab a few pics for the ‘gram while you dine. French-inspired plates include seared foie gras onion tartelette with port wine glaze, grilled fillet mignon with buttered green beans, braised shallot, shaved winter truffle and sauce Perigord, and apple tarte tatin with vanilla ice cream.
Where: 150 Victoria Street, Victoria, London, SW1E 5LB
How much: Two courses with bubbles for £55 per person
Book now: Aster
What: Turn up the heat (and spice) this Valentine’s Day with Vivek Singh’s four-course menu available at his modern Indian restaurant Cinnamon Kitchen. Dishes on the menu include some of its best-loved plates, including tandoori salmon tikka with green pea wasabi; grilled African wild prawn with tomato salsa; crab and kokum crusted cod with seafood bisque; and old Delhi style butter chicken masala with pilau rice. For a sweet finish, lock eyes with your other half over a sumptuous dessert of chocolate tart with wild berry sorbet. Each menu includes a welcome glass of Francoise Monay Rosé Champagne.
Where: City and Battersea
How much: Four courses for £55 per person (Battersea), or £60 per person (City)
Book now: Cinnamon Kitchen City and Cinnamon Kitchen Battersea
Les 110 de Taillevent
What: This Marylebone restaurant is perhaps known best for its wine – offering over 100 labels by the glass – but for Valentine’s Day it’s the food at Les 110 de Taillevent that will take centre stage. The decadent six-course menu oozes luxury with dishes including spelt lobster risotto with lobster bisque; roasted spiced barbary duck with young turnips and preserved cherries; and a chocolate mousse with tonka bean and blackberry. For an ultra-spoiling experience, add a wine pairing from the expert sommeliers.
Where: 16 Cavendish Square, W1G 9DD
How much: Six courses for £78, with discovery wine pairing for £55, with premium wine pairing for £80
Book now: Les 110 de Taillevent
What: Chef James Cockran's hip haunt in Islington, 12:51, only offers tasting menus and Sunday roasts. This restaurant knows what it's doing if you ask us! Clearly one to put on a show through food, we expect 12:51 will be offering a multiple-course extravaganza on the 14 February. In the past, Valentine's Day menus have featured its infamous buttermilk fried chicken with 12:51 scotch bonnet jam and roast Aylesbury duck breast served with leeks, grains and bbq apple.
Where: 107 Upper Street, N1 1QN
How much: Current tasting menu is five courses for £40
Book now: 12:51
What: What could be more spoiling than treating your loved one to a Michelin-starred meal this Valentine’s Day? Gordon Ramsay’s Petrus in Knightbridge offers both a Prestige menu and a Chef's Table menu devised of seven indulgent courses. Dishes include Cornish cod with violet artichoke, courgette, pine nuts and Nocarella olives, confit shoulder of Herdwick lamb with summer beans and marjoram and chocolate cremeux with sobacha, Irish cream and coffee.
Where: 1 Kinnerton Street, Knightsbridge, SW1X 8EA
How much: Seven course Prestige menu for £125 per person
Book now: Petrus
What: With its dimly lit corners, mahogany furnishings and candelabras, Mayfair restaurant Kitty Fisher’s oozes seduction and is the perfect setting for a subtle and sophisticated dinner with a loved one. The menu of modern European dishes are perfectly suited to sharing à deux or indulging in alone with the likes of whole grilled lemon sole, pickled mussels, cucumber, red onion and chervil taking centre stage. Start proceedings with a Bad Kitty cocktail to set the mood.
Where: 10 Shepherd market, Green Park, W1J 7 QF
How much: There isn't a specific menu, but the whole grilled lemon sole is £35
Book now: Kitty Fisher’s
Miller & Carter
What: If steak and chips is your idea of a perfect Valentine’s Day meal, then head to steakhouse Miller & Carter which has multiple locations on the outskirts of London (as well as the rest of the UK). Running from the 14-18 February, guests can choose from classic, comforting dishes such as baked camembert to start, your choice of steak (obviously) served with parsley butter and fries, plus chocolate brownie or sticky toffee pudding to finish. Add a glass (or a bottle) of champagne to your meal to make it even more special.
Where: Muswell Hill, Bromley, Mitcham, Worcester Park
How much: Three courses for £29.95
What: If you can’t afford a romantic trip to Paris, then Covent Garden’s Frenchie is offering the next best thing. Offering a five-course tasting menu with nibbles and petit fours, take your pick from rhubarb foie gras presse with pistachio; Cornish monkfish with barbecued broccoli, sea herbs and croutons; and a white chocolate and Jerusalem artichoke ganache with kalamansi and almond crumble.
Where: 16 Henrietta Street, WC2E 8QH
How much: Five courses for £70 per head
Book now: Frenchie
What: Can you imagine a better way to spend the most romantic day of the year than with comforting bowls of freshly-made pasta? We can't either. Italian-inspired restaurant Passo in Shoreditch is the place to head, in that case, where you can dine on a £35 set menu featuring buratta, smoked almond and artichoke pesto and artichoke crisps; bucatini with truffle cream and pecorino and tiramisu to finish. Guests will receive a glass of Prosecco on arrival, too, alongside olives and mixede nuts for nibbling.
Where: 80 City Road, Shoreditch, EC1Y 2BJ
How much: Four courses with prosecco and nibbles for £35 per person
Book now: Passo
St Pancras Brasserie & Champagne bar by Searcys
What: Smart food in a smart location, St Pancras Brasserie & Champagne Bar by Searcys is the perfect spot to wine and dine your beau after whisking them off a train. We recommend the Champagne trio tasting menu from monthly-changing producers to encourage the spirit of romance.
Where: Grand Terrace, Upper Concourse, St Pancras International Station, N1C 4QL
How much: Champagne trio for £38 per person
Book now: St Pancras Brasserie & Champagne Bar by Searcys
What: We had to include Atul Kochhar's Kanishka, not least because in previous years it has offered guests who book in advance for Valentine's Day (and who are planning to pop the question), the opportunity to arrange for their engagement ring to be strategically hidden inside a chocolate sphere filled with a rich chocolate mousse and passionfruit granita. Plus, it supplied a complimentary glass of Champagne to toast the occasion. If its offering this year is anything like that, Valentine's Day is sure to go down in history.
Where: 17-19 Maddox Street, Mayfair, W1S 2QH
How much: Not yet available
Book now: Kanishka
Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester
What: For those really looking to push the boat out this Valentine’s Day, Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester promises an unforgettable dining experience to share with your loved one. Designed by executive chef Jean-Philippe Blondet, the five-course special menu is packed full of the highest quality luxury ingredients, and culminates with an enchanting and delicately-crafted heart shaped dessert which splits perfectly in two; rose flavoured on one side and chocolate, almond and caramel on the other. If money is no object request the Table Lumière, a semi-private table cocooned by 4,500 shimmering lights and guaranteed to make you swoon.
Where: Park Lane, W1K 1QA
How much: Five-course set menu for £250 per person
Book now: Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester
What: A sure-fire winner for seafood lovers, Corrigan’s Mayfair is one of those London institutions that never fails to please. On Valentine’s Day, esteemed chef Richard Corrigan has curated a beautiful seven-course tasting menu with no expense spared. Kick off with a glass of Champagne and canapes on arrival, before tucking into Orkney scallops with confit chicken wing, watercress and tarragon; Cornish wild turbot and black truffle; and Himalayan salt-aged Irish sirloin with beef fat carrot, chive and pickled onion. Add a wine pairing with each course for a super blowout meal.
Where: 28 Upper Grosvenor Street, W1K 7EH
How much: Seven courses for £130 per person, £250 with wine pairing
Book now: Corrigan’s Mayfair
Got some groundwork to do before the big day? Our list of London’s best first date restaurants and bars might help.