Food lovers: 11 quirky restaurants to spice up your love life

Tired of the same old dating scene – dragging yourself out for dinner, drinks and a movie, each date more ponderous and predictable than the last? Well, maybe it’s time to try something new. Whether you’re looking to put the spark back into your relationship, or you’re after a fun-filled evening for that all important first date, here are some of the more unusual spots to eat out in London.

Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.
Inspired by early 90s cinematic tour de force, Forrest Gump, this eatery in the historic Trocadero building is just a stone’s throw from Piccadilly Circus; ideal for a quick pit stop on your way to Theatreland. The food here is infused with a taste of America’s deep south, and, as you’d expect from a restaurant with shrimp in the title, the menu goes big on the little pink crustaceans. Signature dishes include ‘dumb luck coconut shrimp’, and ‘shrimp shack mac and cheese’, and, for that authentic Alabama experience, there’s even a pot of steaming hot jambalaya. And if seafood’s not your thing, don’t fret; there’s plenty of turf to go with the surf, with grilled steak, ribs, and good old burger and fries. This blockbuster of a bistro may not win any Oscars for fine dining, but for a fun, relaxed evening you can’t go wrong with Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. This is perfect for a cool, casual night on the town.

If you’re feeling adventurous, why not take a walk on the wild side at the Archipelago restaurant in London’s West End. A real safari for the senses, this exotic eatery offers up a thrilling taste of global cuisine, with daring dishes such as crocodile curry, marinated kangaroo skewers and smoked python. With decadent décor and vivid artwork, you’ll tuck into your bush tucker surrounded by golden Buddhas, giant peacock feathers and sprawling palm trees. So, whether you’re celebrating your wedding anniversary or you’ve found the one with the perfectly-curated profile while dating in London with Badoo, Archipelago is guaranteed to spice up your night with some of the most inventive culinary offerings from across the globe.

Source: Archipelago website

Bel Canto
Get arias with your appetisers at this opera-themed restaurant near London’s Hyde Park. With singing waiters and opulent surroundings, this is fine French dining with a musical twist. The intimate dining room at Bel Canto only adds to the romance, and, with classically-trained performers delivering a sonorous blend of solos and duets every 15 minutes, there’s no shortage of entertainment. As for the menu, it’s Gallic fare with a Gallic flair, with delicious Mediterranean staples such as grilled goat’s cheese, smoked duck and salmon pavé. So, if you fancy some Figaro with your filet mignon, look no further.

Enjoy a taste of the future at this exquisite eatery in London’s Covent Garden. With space-age décor and cutting-edge technology, Inamo is a dining experience not to be missed. Once you’re seated, a unique interactive ordering system is projected directly onto your table, allowing you to order drinks and food, watch your meal being prepared via a live chef-cam, and even play retro video games if the conversation gets stilted. But don’t let the tech fool you; this is pan-Asian cuisine at its very best, and the food is every bit as impressive as the gadgetry, with a mouth-watering mix of sushi, sashimi and Singapore noodles. And, with a fully-stocked cocktail bar, if you like a little Mai Tai with your sci-fi, look no further.

Source: Pixabay

Beach Blanket Babylon
For a classier, more sedate evening out, you may prefer the refined atmosphere of Beach Blanket Babylon in Notting Hill. Situated in a lavish Georgian manor house, you’ll dine beneath glistening chandeliers surrounded by ornate furnishing and baroque statues. The seasonal European cuisine offers a vivid taste of the Mediterranean, with signature dishes such as rich tomato linguini, and pan-fried salmon, and the luxurious private dining areas which make the restaurant such a hit with celebs are perfect for an intimate, romantic dinner.

The circus is in town in London’s Covent Garden at this vibrant new nightspot. High-flying trapeze artists, contortionists and fire eaters keep you entertained while you tuck into some delicious pan-Asian cuisine, and the stunning spectacle is only enhanced by the ultra-modern dining room, with sleek gold and black furnishings, alabaster columns and dazzling light shows. And, if you’re in the mood to share, you’re in luck, with a tapas-style menu filled with unique culinary delights, from chilli salt squid and rare beef salad to white miso salmon and vegetable sushi. So, if it’s cocktails and cabaret you’re after, Circus might just be the place for you. Ideal for a thrilling, fun night out.

Source: Circus via Twitter

Bob Bob Ricard
If you’re after something a little more glamorous, why not head to Bob Bob Ricard’s in the heart of Soho. With sumptuous art-deco and an eclectic mix of British and Russian fare, you can dine like an oligarch on stand out dishes like Siberian sturgeon and slow-roasted pork belly. And, with your own private booth with its very own ‘press for champagne’ button, there’s definitely more bolly than borscht; perfect for a simmering romantic evening with the Russian billionaire of your choice.

Shaka Zulu
With glorious warrior statues reaching into the rafters, intricately carved totems, gold, silver and bronze decor and faux tiger-skin furnishings, Shaka Zulu is a feast for the eyes as well as the belly. And with delicious offerings like grilled pork T-bone and pan-fried halibut, this is a culinary experience you won’t want to miss. The restaurant was opened in 2010 with a special royal blessing from the Zulu king, and this is a wonderful celebration of all things African. Situated in the Stables Market in Camden, this sizzling hotspot is a restaurant, bar and nightclub rolled into one; and with cocktails, happy hours and a mezzanine champagne bar, it’s an ideal venue for a fun-packed evening.

Source: Shaka Zulu via Twitter

Dans Le Noir
For something really different, there’s Dans Le Noir, in Clerkenwell Green. Here, you’ll experience a true awakening of the senses, as you and your date dine in complete darkness. The idea is that deprived of sight, your other senses will come alive, as you use your nose, taste buds and even your fingers to explore what’s on your plate. Upon arrival, a waiter will explain the concept and you’ll be given a choice of four surprise menus, each with its own particular theme, from meat, shellfish, and of course vegetarian. You’ll then be led into the darkened dining area to begin your culinary voyage of discovery. Possibly not the best place for a first date, but a great way to put the excitement back into a flagging relationship.

For a true taste of Tokyo, get yourself to Ichibuns on Wardour Street, in the heart of London’s West End. With walls plastered in Manga comics and rooms lined with Japanese jukeboxes and 80s-style ghetto blasters, the décor is a riotous explosion of colour and culture – a vivid, unabashed celebration of all things Japanese. And with a DJ spinning tunes in the basement, this almost feels more like a nightclub than a restaurant. But don’t be fooled; at the core of this eatery is a real passion for food, and the menu is stuffed full of authentic Japanese cuisine, with melt-in-your-mouth wagyu buns and delicious ramen noodles. A great place to eat, chat and have fun.

Source: Ichibuns via Twitter

Channel your inner Olympian at this ping pong-themed pizzeria. One of the more unusual restaurants on our list, the concept behind Bounce is simple (if a little bizarre), serving up a winning combination of food, drink and table tennis for a truly unforgettable experience. The iconic venue in Farringdon is fast becoming one of London’s most talked about nightspots, playing host to stars like Gwyneth Paltrow and Elle Macpherson. And it’s not hard to see why. With wall-to-wall ping pong tables and everyone joining in, it’s the perfect icebreaker; no small talk, no uncomfortable silences; simply pick up the bat and get on with it. And if you’re not the sporty type, don’t fret; you can escape the mayhem in the luxurious mezzanine dining area, suspended above the main restaurant, where you can tuck into your pizza and antipasti while enjoying the games from afar. So, whether you’re a fan of ping pong or not, this is a great night out, with a friendly, vibrant atmosphere and a delicious selection of Italian cuisine. Perfect for a fun-packed first date.

Dating with a Difference
And there you have it, some of the most vibrant, most exotic eateries London has to offer, guaranteed to spice up your love life and get your taste buds tingling. Whether it’s vibrato with your vino, ping pong with your pizza, or dating in the dark, there’s something out there for everyone. So what are you waiting for? It’s time to ditch those tired old romantic tropes and start dating with a difference.

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