Valentine’s Day 2017: The romantic restaurant roundup

By Hannah Thompson contact

- Last updated on GMT

Valentine’s Day 2017: The romantic restaurant roundup
Can you say love potion? From cheeky cocktails to surprise meals for hospitality staff themselves, we take a look at some of the industry's take on the "most romantic" day of the year

Surprises for staff

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Dreaming of your perfect date? Well, if you’re working in hospitality this Valentine’s Day, look out for anyone offering workers a special surprise romantic meal of their own - we promise it's not too good to be true...

After its research found that one third of waiters, concierges and bar staff across Europe had tried to dodge a Valentine’s service, one quarter had argued with their partner over working on 14 February, and some had even pretended to have a car crash to get out of their shift, motor company Ford set up the surprise meal scheme to say thanks to staff, many of whom had given up their own romantic nights to help create the perfect evening for their guests.

“On Valentine dates couples only have eyes for each other. But how their evening goes depends in no small part on those who are sacrificing their own nights out to do a great job,” says Greg Dawson, vice president communications and public affairs, Ford of Europe.

Keeping it classy

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Restaurant payment app Cake is adopting a slightly more lustful approach to the holiday, by handing out Valentine’s cards with condoms included around London’s Shoreditch and Old Street tube station. Their excuse?

“We all know Valentine’s is a great excuse for a special night out, but it’s also when every restaurant is incredibly busy, and we believe an overfussed night can sometimes spoil the mood.” Apparently app-based payments can free up customers to enjoy ‘the rest of your night’.

Well, they do say sex sells…  

A date with a difference

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It’s no ordinary date night with a spike in the popularity of 'competitive socialising' hotspots such as table tennis bars, mini golf pubs, ‘escape room’ games, and pizza and craft beer venues predicted by Colliers International estate agents.

The trend for customers looking for activities along with their food and drink is growing, the group said, offering opportunities for operators looking to make use of any empty space.

“Customers are increasingly looking for something different to do, rather than just go out for meals or the cinema,” says Rachel Stern, of Colliers International’s licensed and leisure team.

Who’s for a match?

La soupe de l'amour  

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French may be the language of love, but French-style group Bistrot Pierre is urging caution this evening after its survey found that eating soup was widely believed to be the least sexy dish to eat in front of your partner or date. Guess the French onion’s out then…

It’s not all bad news though, as the same poll showed that 66 per cent (of which 75 per cent were married or living with their partner) found that romance actually increased as their relationships went on, rather than declining.

“Paris is the city of love and we would love to think that if our customers can’t quite stretch to a trip to France, they may come and visit us for the next best thing,” says Arpita Anstey, head of marketing at the group.

Love potions

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And if creative cocktails for date night is more your kind of thing, there’s no shortage of loving libations on offer…

  • There’s the Flirtini ​(main image pictured above) from the Skylounge, Doubletree by Hilton, Tower of London​, made with Absolut Raspberry, Cointreau and pineapple juice, and served alongside a food sharing platter, specially decorated table, and a bottle of Prosecco or wine, for £70 per two-person table.
  • The Distillery Bankside​ is promising to Pour Me Love​ with their sharing cocktail, made using vodka, strawberry mint shrub, cranberry infused prosecco, rose liquor jelly and edible blossom. Priced at £16 for two people, the drink will also be served alongside Polaroid cameras at the bar to let guests capture the moment in vintage style.
  • New York-style group Dirty Bones​ is getting in on the fun too, with its filthily named Dirty Little Secret​ (pictured right) available at the Shoreditch and Carnaby Street branches. Made with Tanqueray gin, Belsazar Rosé Vermouth, agave honey and lemon juice, shaken with egg white and finished with rose water and chocolate bitters, it manages to combine booze with chocolate in one go – and even comes with a mini Valentine’s card pinned to the side. Lovely.

Romantic ravioli

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Shoreditch Italian restaurant Amici Miei is also KISSing this Valentine's (Keeping It Simple, Stupid) with a cheesy (literally) take on the Italian pasta classic, ravioli. For £28 per person, it's offering a three-course meal including a glass of Prosecco on arrival, and a loved-up main course of heart-shaped ravioli, filled with ricotta cheese, truffled mushroom, and a butter and sage sauce.

Who knew la dolce vita​ could be so cute?

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