We’re lucky enough to live quite close to London. Good train routes (that run 24 hours a day) mean that getting into the capital for dinner or a night out is really simple. What isn’t so simple though is deciding where to go.
London is one of the world’s best places to eat and drink. But how do you know, or decide, where to go when you fancy a night out there?
A few years back my then husband and I came up with a plan to have regular date nights in the capital. Each month we would have two, and we each would organise one as a surprise for the other person. There was only one rule – it had to be somewhere that neither of us had visited before. It sounds simple, after all London us full of restaurants, but it was actually quite tricky to organise. What I wish we’d had at the time was squaremeal.
What squaremeal allows you to do is enter the type of place that you’re looking for (a romantic bar, or maybe an Indian or Italian restaurant) and then where you want it to be near. In our cases it was always looking for somewhere near a tube or train station, so that we had a quick route home afterwards. We had to make do with a London A-Z and a couple of restaurant guides that I’d found in a bookshop. Much more work than what you would have to do today!
The hard work was worth it though, and over the years we found some delightful places to dine. You know you’re on to a good thing when you turn up somewhere that’s somewhat out of the way. A restaurant in the middle of what looks like a residential area or just without any other “destination” nearby. Then you find that it’s absolutely packed full of people, most of whom turn out to be regulars who go there often because they know it’s one of the best places to go.
We were delighted to come across a lovely little Spanish restaurant, tucked away on a corner in Pimlico that looked incredibly unassuming from the outside. Once inside we were greeted like old friends by the bar man (as he broke off conversation with the soap star that was sitting at the bar enjoying tapas and a glass of wine with her boyfriend). The food was absolutely divine and their incredibly good value lunchtime menu became a regular Friday treat for myself and some work colleagues.
Or there was the fish restaurant that I was told about by a friend in Clerkenwell. He told me to follow his instructions to get there and ignore the fact that it looked like he was “leading me down a dark alleyway to a dodgy bit of town”. There, in a parade of shops under a tower block, were the bright lights of a bustling restaurant that was packed full of customers enjoying fish that was so fresh that it had been landed just that morning.
It can be so easy to just keep going to the same “safe” places that you know time and time again in London, but if you do that little bit of research before heading out there are some gems waiting to be found.
Disclaimer: This post was brought to you in collaboration with Squaremeal. All opinions remain my own.