Scored yourself a date but scrambling to find somewhere to take your Valentine? Or perhaps it’s a first encounter and you don’t want to break the bank with an extravagant meal that may end up being more awkward than awesome?

There are plenty of places in the City to snag yourself a delicious meal, show off your innate food-finding skills and still not end up eating noodles for the rest of the month.

1. Romance doesn’t always start at 5pm
A candle-lit dinner might be a bit strong for the Tinder date you snagged at the last minute. May we recommend you test the waters with something a bit more casual? Take your lover-to-be to Kitty Hawk, London’s self-proclaimed department store of dining. Five experiences under one roof; a bar, bar & kitchen, restaurant, patisserie and café.  The lunch menu consists of artisan flatbreads and 10 (!) different cheeses. Pair with a few Buck’s Fizz to take the edge off.

Where: Kitty Hawk, EC2M
How much: Flatbreads for under £10, 5-choice cheese platter for £15.95

2.  Come for dinner, stay and dance

There is something undeniably appealing about the Botanist in Broadgate Circle but we can’t quite put our finger on it. Maybe it’s the inviting interior (we’re suckers for exposed pipes) or the fact there’s a late night bar called the Soda Room where you can continue your romantic adventure after dinner. Hell, who cares – the food is damn tasty. Valentine’s specials available but the regular menu boasts more than enough goodies, too. We’ve fallen for the scallop and shrimp burger and the orgasmic Cumbrian steaks…

Where: The Botanist (Broadgate Circle)
How much: Mains start from £14.50, the aforementioned fish burger is £17.50

3. Tick the it’s (un)complicated box
We’re going to be honest with you here, Simpson’s Tavern isn’t your classic Valentine’s option but – and this is a big but – it’s London’s oldest restaurant (it’s been in the City since 1757) and there’s a reason for it. Staying true to its roots, the restaurant serves traditional British grub. It’s unpretentious, appetizing and you can snuggle up in a cosy booth together while you eat. Rumour has it Charles Dickens used to visit back in the day and if it’s good enough for Dickens, it’s good enough us.

Where: The Simpson’s Tavern, EC3V
How much: Grill and Mains from £8.50

4. Voy a devorarte

A winner (quite literally, they won the Open Table Diners’ Choice Award 2017) if you’re trying to spice things up, ehem, food-wise. Sabor Iberico is exactly like you’d expect; sexy, fiery and oh-so-melt-in-mouth-moan-with-pleasure-good. Share plates of tapas, a classic Spanish paella or try the three-course Valentine’s menu.  Top tip? Whisper the Spanish phrase above to your lover after dinner…but make sure neighbouring guests don’t hear!

Where: Sabor Iberico, EC1Y

How much: Tapas from £3.50, Valentine’s menu £34.95 (includes complimentary glass of bubbly)

5. Feeling frisky
Seduce your SO with a sexy favourite – OYSTERS. The Wright Brothers are well-known for their selection of mouth-watering aphrodisiacs. Although we can’t guarantee it’ll get you in the mood, we can promise you’ll both have an excellent dinner (and food always gets our motor running, so you never know). Contemporary décor that’ll set the scene and all the fish dishes your heart desires. Finish off with a chocolate fondant and Chantilly cream. You might as well milk the aphrodisiac myth for all it’s worth, right?

Where: Wright Brothers, E1

How much: Oysters from £8.50 but there’s a wide range of seafood at good prices too.

– Piece by Almara Abgarian