It’s that time of year again: Valentine’s Day. Yes, it’s cheesy. And yes, it was pretty much invented by card companies. But that’s no reason to consign it to the dustbin, roses and all. After all, the spirit of the day is, at its most basic, simply about celebrating love in all its many forms – and, really, what’s wrong with that? Here’s five suggestions of what to do in London this Valentine’s Day that are less crass greeting card, more authentic romance.
Valentine’s Day tasting menu at Beck at Brown’s
Nothing says romance quite like a five-course Italian feast. Beck at Brown’s, which opened last year to much acclaim, is helmed by Italian chef Heinz Beck, who holds three Michelin stars for La Pergola, his restaurant in Rome. Although Beck at Brown’s is as yet unstarred, it’s a great showcase of the German chef’s inimitable flair for Italian cooking: the Valentine’s menu, which also offers wine pairings for each course, features dishes such as amberjack tartar with pomegranate powder and purple potato, and red beetroot risotto with blue cheese and tarragon. A meal you really won’t forget in a hurry.
£65 per person, or £115 per person with paired wines, Albemarle St, Mayfair, London W1S 4BP, roccofortehotels.com
Live jazz and cocktails at Anthracite
Although it only launched late last year, sleek martini bar Anthracite has already made it on our list of must-try bars in London. This Valentine’s Day it’s stepped up its offering, with two bespoke ‘Monsieur’ and ‘Madame’ cocktails (the former with Gin del Professore Monsieur, Italicus and a dash of Aztec chocolate, and the latter with Gin del Professore Madame, Aperol and champagne), live jazz and tasty sharing plates, including Oscietra caviar and crème fraiche blinis, duck bon bons with Korean BBQ sauce and salted caramel truffles. The bar’s sumptuous velvet sofas, sleek gold touches and cosy dark corners make this the ultimate late night romantic rendez-vous.
Great Northern Hotel, King’s Cross St Pancras Station, Pancras Road, London, N1C 4TB, anthracitelounge.com
Dinner at 45 Jermyn St
This elegant, award-winning restaurant is based in the heart of St James’s – The Jackal’s very own stomping ground. Its old-school décor, with intimate leather booths, low lighting and sumptuous marble, makes for an ideal date location. Sharing dishes like River Yealm oysters, raw Cornish mackerel and caviar tacos, and Beef Wellington keep the romance alive at the table, while champagne by the glass, bottle or magnum will set the tone for the rest of the night.
45 Jermyn St., St. James’s, London SW1 6DN, 45jermynst.com
Cook up a feast at home
If you don’t fancy heading out into a cold February night for dinner (I don’t blame you), then prepare a restaurant-worthy feast in your very own kitchen. Feast Box is offering three exclusive recipe boxes ready to be delivered to your door for Valentine’s Day. What’s more, they’re all packed full of ancient aphrodisiac ingredients guaranteed to set the mood. Choose from butternut squash and chickpea borek with a pomegranate dressing – a symbol of Aphrodite in Ancient Greece – or salmon, a fish that has a long-held association with boosting sex drive, glazed with soy and honey, and served with sushi rice and wasabi dressing. Finally, carnivores can go for the Achari beef steak with masala jus, sweet potato and mustard seed mash and roast figs – seen by many throughout history as a libido-enhancing fruit. A night in never sounded so good.
Chocolate making at Mercato Metropolitano
Go one step beyond a box of Milk Tray this Valentine’s, and book into a chocolate making class at Italian market Mercato Metropolitano. Guided by chocolate expert Margaux Brookes, the class will teach you how to make an array of goodies. These include three variations of chocolate truffles, chocolate shells filled with a soft ganache, caramel chocolate barks and chocolate slabs topped with fruit and nuts. You’ll be a true cocoa connoisseur afterwards.
£30 per person, 11 February, Mercato Metropolitano, 42 Newington Causeway, London SE1 6DR, eventbrite.co.uk
Floating World by Takayo