Welcome to Date Night in London.
To me where you go and what you do on a date night communicates quite a bit about a couple. It’s also a sly demonstration of power dynamics. Who’s the social secretary in the duo? Who makes the plans? Who invites who? Who pays?
In our flat on a day to day basis the social secretary’s cap is all mine. I’m the one who puts things in a shared google calendar, that’s synced with our Outlooks (we learned that the hard way in the early years of coupledom. If you put it in the calendar, shared appointments can’t be disputed or double booked).
While The Hungry One is unbeatable at the grand gesture most of the time the sourcing of date nights is my domain. And I’ve learned compromise is key.
Dinner and a movie might be a cliche, but it got to be that way for a reason. It’s nice.
Here’s our recent favourite for anyone fancying a solid night out in East London (nb, booking ahead will make things run a whole lot smoother).
1) Get thee to Hawksmoor Spitalfields Bar
Relatively new, hip but not obnoxiously so, and atmospheric as all get out. That’s the top line summary. Underground from the famed Hawksmoor steak restaurant in Spitalfields is their new bar. It’s got a burnished, speakeasy sort of vibe in a similar vein to The Nightjar
There are leather banquets to sink into, the music that won’t cause you to shudder or shout and a cracking cocktail list. If you fancy anything with a citrus lilt served out of a proper glass, not a tumbler (I’m sure most are aware of my bugbear of cocktails and wine being served out of crummy glasses) then you’re going to want a Marmalade. It’s as fresh as a spring wind, a giddy combination of gin, lemon, campari and lemonade, served in a martini glass (£8). I like it. Lots.
The food falls into the ‘dude food’ camp. The Hungry One likes it. Lots.
There are short rib nuggets (£6); threads of beef bound together with molten cheese and a cheeky chunk of pickle. Breaded, then fried. It’s like pulled beef went and fornicated with a burger and a nugget. It’s audacious.
Then there are the chicken wings, sticky and glorious with the kimchee ketchup that’s intended with the shortrib nuggets.
From there you could go to one of the Hawksmoor burgers. They’re famed because they’re good. Or you could split a couple of the brioche rolls. The short-rib french dip is a calorific indulgence of braised short ribs, melted Bermondsey cheese in a sweet and soft bun, which you can then dunk in a dense meaty gravy.
In a similar school of ‘gilding the lily’ is the lobster roll (£15); chunks of lobster (good, but in my opinion not quite as fresh as at Goodman’s Burger or Lobster) are stuffed into a butter brushed brioche- and served with a portion of bernaise sauce on the side.
If you were after even more heft from there, there’s always the novelty value of the poutine (£6). A French Canadian classic of frites, smothered in gravy and cheese curds, here it’s rendered with either oxtail or chicken.
The chicken poutine arrives as chips, smothered in melted wads of Bermondsey cheese and a rich stew of chicken leg meat in a dark gravy. On top are some wafts of crisp chicken skin. It’s a strange world when you’re turning for light relief in a dish to triple cooked chips.
There are lighter options available, from the Tamworth laab; a Laotion spiced pork mince served on lettuce cups, through to smashed and soused cucumbers dressed up with rice wine vinegar.
Basement, 157 Commercial Street, Spitalfields E1
The only dessert I need is a canister of their devilishly good pebbles of honeycomb smothered in milk chocolate.
Snuggle up. Be happy. Drink wine. Feel smug. It’s that easy.
And if you can’t do that on a well planned date night, well, then what’s the point of anything?
The Aubin Cinema
64-66 Redchurch Street
Tickets are £13 each (£15 each for a deluxe double seat sofa)
The Aubin is a 10 minute walk through Brick Lane from Hawksmoor Spitalfields.
Tips and tricks. You will need to book ahead for tickets. The front row is rather close to the screen. The film starts around 25 minutes after the advertised time.