Even after James and I moved in together I never thought we’d really find the need to organise date nights. I guess I just assumed we’d spend more quality time together since we were going to share a little flat and we’d go out for dinner and do nice things as we always had. A year on, over half way into my 30th year with a 2016 full of weddings, hen dos, stag dos, 30ths, and not very many free weekends left, having to consciously make time to put the effort in and do something nice together is inevitable and I’m starting to come around to the date night concept.
The fact that it’s a fun way to finally make sure I visit a few restaurants on the list has nothing to do with it… 😉
Saturday night is probably the best example of a 2016 date night, a cosy meal at The Little Taperia in Tooting. Obviously I’m not going to take a big DSLR on these evenings, so advance apologies for the poor iPhone quality snaps! But this neighbourhood restaurant features on the 2016 wishlist and has been on my visit list since I walked past it last summer, so I had to share it either way.
The Little Taperia is a tapas restaurant just a five minute walk from Tooting Broadway. Whilst it sits on a busy road its got that neighbourly vibe that seems to be making Tooting such a popular place to live or eat. It’s run by the same guys behind The Little Bar, which is pretty much what it says on the sign and you’ll find craft beers and cocktails on menu. I’ve been to the bar a couple of times since living in the South West so I was expecting the same casual vibe that greeted us when we arrived at the restaurant.
They don’t take bookings for tables of less than 6 people so I thought it was best to arrive early. 6.15pm and it was empty enough to take a quick snap of the bar.
Half an hour later and the place was full, so I was feeling a smug about a slightly earlier-than-your-usual date time.
I started with the Blackberry G&T, refreshing and a random reminder of the fact that gin is big in Spain too (something I remember being surprised about learning at Tapas Revolution perhaps because there are so many London distilleries, and yes I do love tapas.)
Check out those floor tiles! My feet and phone we’re itching for an #ihavethisthingwithfloors moment but I figured trying to take a photo from an awkward angle is probably not date night protocol.
We ordered 5 dishes to share between us as that’s usually just enough for our appetites. The Little Taperia is well-known for its Morcilla Scotch eggs and Salt Cod fritters, but I haven’t got over my egg hatred and I’m not keen on sea food so they weren’t on the order I’m afraid! Instead, we went for some of our favourites…
Patas bravas, I’m a carb fiend after all. Always a good choice and they didn’t disappoint.
Escalivada (Catalan grilled vegetables on toasted sourdough). The only cold tapas dish we chose. I enjoyed the fresh flavours against the meat and carbs we’d ordered.
Albondigas (essentially lamb meatballs, I shamefully had to Google it.) A simple dish but it worked well with everything else.
Chickpea and chorizo stew, a dish from the specials menu. I liked this dish as the chickpeas were nice and soft and the broth had a nice spicy flavour, but for some reason I was expecting it to be a bit thicker in texture and I discovered I seem to prefer the flavour of chorizo sausage baked or fried rather than in a stew.
Finally, croquettes, because you can never not order these right? Oozing cheese, smokey ham wrapped in potato and a crispy crumb. Yum. I’d probably eat these on their own (I certainly have done so with the cheesy M&S ones!).
A great meal for a really reasonable price (less than £25pp). But food aside, what I really liked about it was the neighbourly and friendly atmosphere. It’s big enough to have a buzz but not so big to feel overwhelming and impersonal. Whilst the tables for two are close to each other, it’s not so close that you’re forced to shout over other conversations. The candlelight making it even more suitable for dates. It’s a great option to have around the corner for future date nights, family visits and friends from out of town.
One of the many things I love about London is how each neighbourhood has its own charm and you can find some great food options just on your doorstep. What’s better than a date night where you don’t have to go very far to find someone else do the cooking and washing up?!
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Do you enjoy date nights? Is it something you do with friends or even siblings? (I’m starting to think the idea could be applied to other relationships!)