Love it or loathe it, it’s hard to escape Valentine’s Day. If you’re the sort that buys into an annual celebration of love and romance, we’ve got all the main dining tropes covered, so you’re fully prepped for a classy night with the one you love.
What greater aphrodisiac is there than the oyster? It’s suggestive shape and scent make it one of the ultimate Valentine’s foods, and right now we’re slap bang in the middle of the native season, which means you can eat oysters sourced from Cornish, Scottish and Irish shores. Bentley’s is something of an oyster stalwart, shucking around 1000 oysters every day. If you fancy oysters with a twist, treat your date to a Valentine’s Oyster Masterclass with Master Oyster shucker Helio Garzon. Or simply book in for dinner.
Masterclass £65, 10 February, bentleys.org
Eat French cuisine
The French have a reputation for being masters of romance, and Serge et Le Phoque are one of the newest and most interesting French restaurants on the London dining scene. Their take on French dining came to London via Hong Kong, something of a circuitous route, perhaps, but then, the course of true love also ne’er did run smooth. For V Day they’ve curated a five-course set lunch and dinner paired menu of shared plates including oysters, scallops, lobster, and blood orange, arlette and vanilla cream for pudding. If you want to go all out, you can add Oscieta caviar, seaweed blinis and truffle brie to the mix.
£75 per head, 14 to 17 February, themandrake.com
Toast with champagne
When I think of champagne bars, I think Searcy’s and what could be more romantic than a 360 degree sky high view of a glittering city at night? Searcy’s at the Gherkin is on the 39th floor and as well as champagne are serving a five course Valentine’s dinner menu that includes crab salad, beef wellington, truffles, sea bass, Baron Bigod cheese and champagne macaroons. Once you arrive at the top you’ll be greeted with a glass of bubbles of course, and also a personalised Aspinal of London gift, to make the night that little bit extra special.
£95 per head searcys.co.uk
Pretend you’re the Lady and the Tramp
For those who don’t want anything too fussy or fancy, and prefer a night in, but don’t want the sweat and faff of cooking, Angela Hartnett’s Pastificio next door to Cafe Murano Covent Garden has a luxury home-dining option. Pop by and pick up fresh Italian bread, olives and Parma ham to start, a tray of freshly made pasta and a sauce, followed by a tiramisu and a bottle of red or white wine. Indulge yourself with a shared strand of spaghetti finished with a kiss. If that’s your thing.
Available week of 12 February cafemurano.co.uk/pastificio
You can’t get a more obvious sign of romance than chocolate and flowers, and Happy Endings, the dessert bar in Old Spitalfields Market will help you kill two birds with one stone. They’ve teamed up with Rebel Rebel florists who’ve created two Valentine’s Day special bouquets – Ice Ice Baby and Crazy in Love. Buy a bouquet and get a dessert for two, either a Chocolate x a Million Ways and a Strawberry Zuzu Cheesecake, or a box of handmade salted chocolate truffles.
Available 13 to 14 February from £20. rebelrebel.co.uk