With swanky wine bars and stunning private rooftops galore, date spots in the City are among the most opulent in the capital—nay, in all of the UK, even. Brimming with masterful mixology, gorgeous restaurants and discreet speakeasies, the City boasts countless options for a first date to remember.
City folk are rushed off their feet, so making time for that special someone here is all the more meaningful, especially when you impress them with one of these unbeatable date venues! Here are our top 5 first date bars in the City.
1. Core Bar
10–15 Queen St, EC4N 1TY
Core Bar offers something different, an alternative to the usual upmarket eateries you might expect in the City. A dark and cosy basement, this chilled out social hotspot serves up classic gastro grub to grab if the two of you are in serious need of a bite, like their mouthwatering salt beef sandwiches, chunky rib-eye steaks and irresistibly juicy burgers. There’s no shortage of punchy cocktails on offer to wash it all down with, either, as well as rich, aromatic coffees for that extra kick when you’ve gotta get your flirting A game on. Easygoing and ambient, Core Bar provides comfortable surroundings for getting to know your date, but without the pressure of somewhere more full-on, like a wine bar or top-notch restaurant. That’s not to say there isn’t music to enjoy as the hours fly by and night descends, of course: every patron in there is cutting shapes on the dancefloor into the small hours! Maybe the two of you can join them if this very first rendezvous of yours has gone from strength to strength!
2. The Olde Wine Shades
6 Martin Ln, Cannon St EC4R 0DP
The Olde Wine Shades is one of the capital’s oldest and most prestigious wine houses, a listed building, originally a merchant’s house predating the Great Fire of 1666. This deeply woven history marries with the bar’s continually evolving wine list, with vinos expertly sourced from around the globe—not to mention its alluring menu of Spanish dishes and tapas plates, their full flavours the perfect complement to your tipple of choice. Bask in the immense history of the place, and take a moment to wonder of the smugglers’ tunnel way down in the basement, thought to have once provided a crucial route to the river for ill-gotten goods.
50 Long Ln, EC1A 9EJ
Apulia is a charming Italian nestled in the heart of Farringdon, the ideal spot for you and your date to unwind uninterrupted in one another’s company over authentic home-cooked cuisine. Hearty dishes abound, and the rustic interiors are conducive to a cosy, laid-back night of romance. The eatery is influenced by the unique culinary traditions of Puglia, the region of Southern Italy whence the family who run Apulia comes. They’re passionate about sourcing only the finest ingredients for your delectation. You and your date shall not be disappointed.
E Poultry Ave, EC1A 9LH
Oriole is a speakeasy-inspired affair in the midst of the hustle and bustle of City life, tucked away just below the historic Smithfield Market. An oriole is an exotic bird, and Oriole’s cocktail menu most certainly reflects that colour and flair, with tastes and flavours spanning Africa, Europe, Asia and Australia—all the places you might just spot an oriole itself if you were lucky enough. Complementing the multi-award-winning drinks comes a smörgåsbord of tasty bar food and small plates inspired by Nikkei dishes, which marries Japanese culinary wisdom with Peruvian ingredients, a cuisine born upon the emigration of Japanese citizens to South America in the 20th century.
Oriole is a seriously sumptuous space, an oasis of warmth, magic and mystery right in the very heart of the capital where Londoners and visitors alike are free to disconnect from the world outside and connect with those who matter most to them—your hot date, in this instance. In the midst of beguiling decor, glowing hospitality and enthralling refreshments, all of which are driven by only the most profound of desires to enchant and delight every patron who walks through the doors, first daters in Oriole can get ready for a romantic experience that pretty much borders on transcendental. And trust us, that isn’t a term we use lightly!
115 Chancery Ln, WC2A 1PP
Baranis is a bar with a decidedly French accent. Together with your beautiful date, be immersed in the glamour of the South of France the moment you step foot in this chic establishment on Chancery Lane, a vaulted basement deep inside an ex–auction house.
Baranis combines intimate booths perfect for flirtin’ with—wait for it—the UK’s only indoor pétanque court. (That’s indoor boules.) If you’re after a City date with a difference, a cocktail or three over a heated game of pétanque is simply top of the menu. And speaking of cocktails, well—that’s the name of the other game at Baranis. They’re masters of mixology down in this little old basement. Along with the traditional French aperitif pastis, there are lots of delicious numbers on offer, not to mention classic French lounge drinks and finger foods enticingly laid out on great china platters.
Pro tip: We guarantee that neither you nor your date has ever played pétanque on a first date (or ever, for that matter), but we double-dare you to not fancy giving it a try after a prosecco or three! Pétanque is a form of boules (yeah, apparently they’re not the same thing) in which you throw hollow metal balls as close as possible to a small wooden ball, the cochonnet. Now if that’s not enough to get the chemistry sizzling, you may just be beyond help.
Head to Baranis for a few timeless hours in Southern France, and emerge back into moonlight having grown a whole lot closer to your romantic interest after a seriously sensuous first date.
Fancy getting out of The City? Check out Soho for a first date.