Ok, we get it. Croydon and romance might not be the most obvious of pairings (!) but an old stereotype can’t stand in the way of true love.
Besides, good food is the key to anyone’s heart and with its eclectic range of culinary options (championed every summer at the annual Food Festival) Croydon serves up everything you need to secure that crucial first date (or hold on to your current one!)
So, if you’re looking for a table for two with non-pretentious vibes, check out these local date night spots.
Basil & Grape
With Italian being the well-known language of love, we admire this local restaurant’s decision to shun the more romantic sounding “Basilico e Uva” in favour of the English translation.
But, tucked away in the privacy of the wooden dining booths, the overhead festoon bulbs and fake ivy create a (surprisingly) authentic environment for an amorous Italian evening.
If perusing the extensive wine menu leaves you with overwhelm, call on the restaurant’s sommelier services. What this expert team don’t know about Italian wine isn’t worth knowing.
Basil and Grape is owned by two local lads who are both WSET (Wine Spirit Education Trust) certified. Their passion for wine has seen them invest in the same level of training for their management team. This means that staff are not only full of helpful recommendations but are also able to lead Wine Tastings in their dedicated Tasting Room at the back of the restaurant.
In a demonstration of these skills, the waiter was able to translate our usual preference for a “New Zealand Savvy B” into an excellent Verdicchio which paired beautifully with our “Massima” sharing board of cured meats and cheeses.
Finish the evening with a homemade Tiramisu which really is “amore” at first sight.
46 Surrey St, Croydon CR0 1RJ
There’s nothing quite like a waistcoated maitre-d opening the door, that gets you wistfully recalling the chivalry displayed during the early days of dating.
If you don’t experience the same level of romance from your other half, the stylish surroundings will soon help you settle in.
With a vintage chandelier hanging in the centre of the room, reclaimed wood flooring, plush green banquette seating and wishbone chairs (that we’ve coveted for years) – Fern has nailed the sophisticated/relaxed look and is bound to impress a plus one.
As a “Dawn til Dusk” restaurant and bar (located opposite East Croydon station) it’s also a great option for dates that spill over into the next day.
Whilst the “sharing” menu might unintentionally bring out your selfish sides, the ‘Sea, Plant and Land’ concept (with highlights including Sea Bream Ceviche, Baked Scallops and Duck Breast) mean all your dietary needs can be met.
Finish your night with a Margarita Verde at the bar to leave your Insta followers a similar shade of green.
100a George St, Croydon CR0 1GP
Perhaps in a nod to the autonomous community in northwest Spain that it takes its name from, Galicia remains pretty independent from the internet. But what it lacks in terms of website and social media presence, it makes up for with authentic Spanish cuisine.
Whilst dipping croquetas into aioli and mopping up gamba’s sauce with chunks of bread, you can debate whether this authenticity should be carried through to the interior.
Modernists might argue for a revamp, but there is something oddly refreshing about the traditional wooden tables and 80s esq salt and pepper shakers.
Share a Paella over a bottle of Rioja before tucking into a round of Churros. The best dates involve hearty food, quality drink and a healthy debate. Galicia provides all three.
269-275 High St, Croydon CR0 1QH
Directly underneath the Croydon Flyover, Ponte Nuovo (which translates as New Bridge) doesn’t shy away from its less than salubrious surroundings. However, those who are able to look past it’s locale, are in for a treat.
Behind the doors, lies a chic modern bar that any stylish Italian would be comfortable sipping a Martini at.
But if you’re lacking in Italian style, you can make up for it with enthusiasm – by over-ordering on Stuzzichini (appetisers) and Antipasti (starters) before mains.
After devouring a delicious Linguine Marinara or a Filleto Pepe Verde, head back to the Lounge Bar for a night cap.
Following a heavy dose of carbs and Negroni, you might emerge again on the street a little disorientated. Ponte Nuovo has a clever way of distracting you from its exterior.
As the famous dating rule goes, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover (nor a restaurant by its location).
86-88 High St, Croydon CR0 1NA
Mr Fox is located at the end of Surrey Street, alongside one of London’s oldest street markets (which was established in 1276).
The menu gives a subtle nod to this connection – with its support for the British farming community demonstrated by dishes focused on locally sourced, seasonal, and sustainable ingredients.
After salivating over Braised Beef Cheeks (not an innuendo), you can turn your attentions to the cocktail menu. Award winningly designed (who knew menu design awards were a thing?!) the concoctions are as pretty as they are playful.
In keeping with the lively atmosphere, Mr Fox is a dog friendly venue. So, if your dating life is floundering, bring your canine best friend along and stare into those (puppy dog) eyes for the evening.
34 Surrey St, Croydon CR0 1RJ