DATE NIGHT: LONDON’S BEST KEPT SECRET

WHAT

Rochelle at the Institute of Contemporary Art

PRICE

Not bad. Up to £20 for mains. We recommend going traditional – starter, main, dessert and carafe of wine, which would come to just under £100 for two.

WHY

Margot Henderson and Melanie Arnold are the best kept secrets of the cultural world. Their food – deceptively simple, but cleverly social – is plentiful and beloved by many in fashion and art. They certainly know how to host – running the company Arnold & Henderson (who have catered for Louis Vuitton, White Cube and Alexander McQueen, among others) and their restaurant Rochelle Canteen in a converted school in Shoreditch. The Rochelle ICA opened this year, a much welcome second outpost of a modern classic.

ON THE MENU

Though the menu changes daily, there are always gems. My suggestion is to ask the staff what they recommend, as they will invariably gush about what’s good that day. I, personally, can never resist ordering quail if it’s on a menu, and this one comes harissa-spiced, and is served with the best aioli I’ve ever had (custard-yellow, warmed through with rich garlic and piquant with just enough lemon). The roast cod topped with romesco sauce, broke into beautifully silky flakes, and the pheasant and smoked bacon pie was satisfyingly comforting. Definitely leave room for dessert.

WHERE

Surrounded by the stately Buckingham Palace, or members’ clubs like the Atheneum, the ICA has always seemed an incongruous hothouse of creativity on the Mall. But, itself an institution, it has long drawn the artistic explorer, and there is a sense that – by candlelight, within that social hum – from the good conversation and laughter, there are very important ideas being hatched.

WHEN

We’re sure this is great for lunch, but dinner by candlelight, in this raised, low key space, is absolute perfection. Be sure to book.

HOW ROMANTIC?

Very. Sitting knee-to-knee in this relatively small space, you have no choice but to be intimate. And how better to finish the evening than a stroll in the heart of London through its best-loved monuments?

LIKED BY

All the food critics, the art crowd, and in-the-know Londoners.