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.
Petersham Nurseries Richmond
What This year the team behind Petersham Nurseries Richmond will be hosting an exclusive supper club on the 13 and 14 February with a 10-course tasting menu focussing on the heart. The dishes have been designed by nutritionists to boost cardiovascular health but the science will certainly not detract from the romance of the evening as diners are bathed in candlelight in Petersham House’s private greenhouse.
Where Church Lane, off Petersham Road, Richmond, TW10 7AB
How much £70 per head
What Above the hustle and bustle of the iconic Borough Market the Valentine’s Day offering at British restaurant Roast is a traditional affair served with a complimentary glass of prosecco or Valentine’s cocktail of your choosing. Dishes include a sharing beef wellington with tenderstem broccoli, roast potatoes and Bordelaise sauce and indulgent desserts like a rich hot chocolate fondant and apple tarte tatin.
Where The Floral Hall, Stoney Street, SE1 1TL
How much 3 courses, £69 per head
What If you’re unsure whether your charms alone will woo the one you love this Valentine’s Day, how about giving yourself a head start with the Aphrodisiac Menu from Island Grill. This specially created line up of dishes features ingredients like oysters, dark chocolate and asparagus in an inviting array of combinations. With its plum location looking over Hyde Park, this central London restaurant is perfectly placed for a romantic stroll before or after your meal and is housed within a hotel should an overnight stay take your fancy.
Where Royal Lancaster London, Lancaster Terrace, W2 2TY
How much £39 for 2-courses and £45 for 3-courses per person including a selection of ‘artistically creative’ canapés
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; whole roasted creedy carver duck with Jerusalem artichoke, young rhubarb and a black truffle jus; and a Guanaja chocolate praline with salted caramel and yuzu. For an ultra-spoiling experience add a wine pairing from the expert sommeliers.
Where 16 Cavendish Square, W1G 9DD
How much 6 course £75; discovery wine pairing £55; prestige wine pairing £90
What With its cosy alcoves, mood lighting and stunning North African interiors; Sicilian restaurant Norma poses the perfect sumptuous setting for a romantic evening. Valentine’s Day specials from culinary director Ben Tish have been designed to share and include grilled scallops, with pumpkin and nduja butter; 30-day aged t-bone steak served with pepperonata, almond and rosemary aioli; and finally ricotta doughnuts, with an extra special limoncello curd and vanilla chantilly cream.
Where 8 Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia, W1T 2LS
How much Main course to share between two, £65
What At his hip haunt in Islington, chef James Cochran will be whipping up a fun and casual 8-course tasting menu on Valentine’s day. On arrival guests will be met with James’ take on a classic Pina Colada before tucking into an assortment of crowd-pleasing dishes that include his 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 £75 per head
What For couples torn between Netflix n’ chill vs a fancy meal out, One Aldwych are offering the perfect solution with a screening of Pretty Woman (complete with popocorn and Champagne) followed by a three course dinner at Eneko Basque Kitchen & Bar. Guests can look forward to dishes including mussels cooked over charcoal with txakoli wine, pork ribs in a pork sauce, and roasted aubergine, followed by a choice of two decadent puds.
Where 1 Aldwych, WC2B 4BZ
How much £68 per head for the full experience
What What could be more spoiling than treating your loved one to a Michelin-starred meal this Valentine’s Day? The special five-course menu at Gordon Ramsay’s Petrus includes a main course of Hertforshire beef with foie gras and a rich madeira sauce followed by a tantalising chocolate, raspberry and passion fruit dessert. If that doesn’t tempt you enough then perhaps the lobster with leek, black truffle and garganelli will seal the deal.
Where 1 Kinnerton Street, Knightsbridge, SW1X 8EA
How much 5 courses including Champagne, £175 per head
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 Welsh rarebit and monkfish, cauliflower and curried butter 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 Monkfish, Cauliflower & Curried Butter is £27
What Chef Martha Ortiz has always advocated the sensuality of food and never more so than with her Mexican Seduction menu at Ella Canta designed specifically for El Di´a de San Valenti´n. The six course tasting menu combines bold flavours with stunning splashes of pink and red woven through each plate, and a handful of aphrodisiac ingredients for good measure.
Where One Hamilton Place, Park Lane, W1J 7QY
How much £70 including one Mexican Seduction cocktail
What If you can’t afford a romantic trip to Paris then Covent Garden’s Frenchie is offering the next best thing. From 14-16 February a five course Valentine’s Day menu will be offered to guests with a glass of Champagne, nibbles and petit fours. Dishes comprise Foie gras presse, with Yorkshire rhubarb and sorrel; hand-dived scallop en croute with truffle; Carrot gnocci with yuzu and wild garlic; and a signature Frenchie tart of Banoffee, nutmeg, and caramelized pecan.
Where 16 Henrietta Street, WC2E 8QH
How much £95 per head or £85 for a vegetarian version
The Grill at The Dorchester
What For those yet to experience chef Tom Booton’s culinary mastery then his six-course Valentine’s Day menu at The Grill at The Dorchester is a great place to start. Showcasing the best seasonal produce, his dishes feature contemporary twists on British classics. Highlights include native oyster with horseradish and celery; and beef fillet served with morels, wild garlic, beef fat potatoes and shallot. Guests will also be treated to a class of Veuve Cliquot Yellow label Brut to toast to the occasion.
Where 53 Park Lane, Mayfair, W1K 1QA
How much £115 per head including tea/coffee and petits fours
What The latest instalment from Jason Atherton; The Betterment is a newcomer to Grosvenor Square situated in the glamourous new Biltmore hotel. The four-course Valentine’s Day menu is an extravagant affair with dishes such as Brixham crab with rose water, almond & Rossini Baerii caviar and Buccleuch beef fillet, with Montgomery cheddar, bone marrow, and Périgord truffle. A seductive finish comes in the form of an indulgent red velvet cake, served with a Champagne gel and raspberry and rose petal sorbet, all washed down with a bottle of Ruinart Rosé, Brut.
Where 39-44 Grosvenor Square
How much £85 per head
What Exclusively on 14 February Italian-inspired restaurant Passo in Shoreditch will be teaming up with British Sicilian-born chef and pastry wonder woman Emilia Strazzanti to create a four-course Sicilian inspired feast. The menu will centre on the Sicilian almond which blossoms in February and is a symbol of love in Greek mythology. The romance of the evening will be bolstered further with gorgeous flower installations from McQueens florists and wine pairing from local Italian specialists Passione Vino.
Where 80 City Road, Shoreditch, EC1Y 2BJ
How much Four course menu with wine pairing, £45 per head
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. Throughout February the bar will be offering a ‘Rosé with passion’ Champagne trio to encourage the spirit of romance and introduce the world of pink fizz. Afterwards guests are encouraged to dine on the special Valentine’s Dinner menu in one of the restaurant’s cosy and intimate booths.
Where Grand Terrace, Upper Concourse, St Pancras International Station, N1C 4QL
How much Two courses £39, Three courses £48
What Not only has chef Atul Kochhar devised an exquisite eight-course menu for couples on Valentine’s Day, showcasing the very best of Indian flavours, colours and culinary techniques, the team at Kanishka are also promising the ultimate foodie solution to popping the big question on 14 February. Those who book in advance can arrange for their engagement ring to be strategically hidden inside a chocolate sphere filled with a rich chocolate mousse and passionfruit granita and will be supplied with complimentary Champagne to toast the occasion.
Where 17-19 Maddox Street, Mayfair, W1S 2QH
How much Eight-course set menu, £78 per head; Wine pairing £60
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. 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 with a glass of rosé Champagne, £235 per head
Baluchi at The LaLit London
What They say music is the food of love, but why not have dinner while you listen? Baluchi at The LaLit London has arranged just that with jazz singer sensation Matthew VanKan and his band providing the perfect romantic ambience for diners while they tuck into a gourmet five-course feast from chef Jomon in the venue’s stunning dining hall. Expect a fusion of European and India cuisine, with a balance of individual plates and dishes to share.
Where 181 Tooley Street, SE1 2JR
How much Tickets for jazz and dinner, £80 per head
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 six-course tasting menu with no expense spared. Dishes will include Orkney scallops with black truffle; Cornish sea bass with squid ragu; and fillet of Irish beef en croute. For an extra romantic flourish guests can preorder a bouquet of flowers from Your London Florist to await them on arrival.
Where 28 Upper Grosvenor Street, W1K 7EH
How much £125 per person
What For a discreet spot away from the hordes of couples en masse, this new restaurant in the basement of the Boundary Hotel promises an intimate dining experience complete with cosy corners, low lighting and a menu of aphrodisiac ingredients. The five-course Valentine’s tasting menu at Wilder features the likes of Pyefleet rock oysters with elderflower vinegar; smoked pollock with cockles, leeks and potato cream; and an ultra-seasonal dessert of Yorkshire rhubarb, white chocolate and buttermilk.
Where 2-4 Boundary Street, Hackney, E2 7DD
How much £65 per head including a Champagne Rhubarb Gimlet
Got some groundwork to do before the big day? Our list of London’s best first date restaurants and bars might help.