Itinerary Location: Islington | Duration: 6 Hours
If you’re planning to navigate the choppy waters of London’s dating scene, you’re going to need a boat.
Preferably, one which serves cocktails.
So we’ve mapped out a charming post-work date night along Islington’s canal-side, where you’ll take a stroll along the towpath with mountain grape tea, pop into a warehouse-turned-art-gallery, dine on board a converted barge (followed by nightcaps on the boat next door), before returning to dry land to enjoy a late-night flick in a gorgeously retro cinema.
Meet your date at the top of Camden Passage, where it meets Islington High Street, and venture into:
➊ KATSUTE100 | 6pm
This luminous green wedge is a slice of matcha mille feuille crepe cake; a Japanese twist on French patisserie that sandwiches together dozens of layers of super-thin crepes with matcha cream. It’s one of the many treats on offer at this Japanese café tucked away on the cobbled lanes of Camden Passage. Inside, it’s an eccentric cross between a Georgian townhouse and a Japanese teahouse, with woodblock prints sitting alongside airy sash windows. It’s worth staying in for a slice of cake, but if you’re short on time meet your date here to grab a loose leaf tea or black sesame latte to take along the canal with you. The budou sencha is probably the most unique tea in their library, which is made with Japanese mountain grapes – it’s insanely delicious.
Take your cups for a stroll in the direction of the canal: head left down Camden Passage, then left again onto Duncan Street. At the crossroads, take the stairway that descends through a tunnel of leafy trees to find yourself on the northern bank of…
➋ REGENT’S CANAL | 6.30pm
Emerging onto the City Road Lock, you’ll be met with a vista encompassing all the odd industrial charms of Regent’s Canal. The towpath’s lined by old warehouses (that one with the tower once made terrazzo flooring for Selfridges), while colourful houseboats bob between weeping willows that trail their branches in the water.
If you’ve got time, head over the bridge at Wharf Road to pop into the Victoria Miro Gallery, a free-to-enter exhibition space that showcases work by international contemporary artists like Yayoi Kusama and Grayson Perry. The waterside garden alone is well worth building into your stroll.
Otherwise, head onwards to Packington Bridge, and cross over to:
➌ CARAVEL | 7pm
A scalloped coral awning sets this barge apart from the other houseboats along this stretch. Well, that and the critically acclaimed restaurant inside. Caravel comes to you from Fin and Lorcan Spiteri, the sons of Rochelle Canteen‘s Melanie Arnold and St. John‘s Jon Spiteri. But the pair have won respect in their own right for this quietly exceptional floating restaurant, where Lorcan rustles up a menu of bistro-style dishes to share.
It’s a winner of a date spot thanks to its size (intimate, but not so small that everyone else will be listening to your best lines in the lulls of their own conversations), the quirky setting, the flattering candlelight and the unpretentious atmosphere that belies the absolutely first class cooking. Feast on roast hake (served with chips and curry sauce), some guineafowl skewers or a little beef shin tagliatelle, and prepare yourself for the long, 2m walk to to:
➍ BRUNO’S | 9pm
Yes, the Spiteris have conveniently placed a nightcap spot right next door (which here means, ‘on a neighbouring barge’). Where Caravel is light and airy, Bruno’s is dark and moody, a fitting gear shift for a post-dinner cocktail. This is Fin’s moment to shine, having previously tended bar at 69 Colebrooke Row and Quo Vadis. On the menu here? Some eminently sippable numbers like the Cola Colada (with white rum, lime and clarified cola milk punch) and the decadent classic, a Brandy Alexander.
Onto the next stop: retrace your steps for a few minutes and this time come off the towpath by The Narrowboat pub, carrying on along St Peter’s Street and across the green to reach:
➎ SCREEN ON THE GREEN | 10.15pm
First built back in 1913, Screen On The Green is one of London’s plushest cinemas. There’s only one screen here, but they’ve doubled down on the luxe: there’s velvet armchairs and loveseats with blankets; a bar actually in the screening room; and a menu of cocktails and boozy shakes brought directly to your seat. And of course, there’s only one film to pick. On Friday nights, the cinema puts on a late screening at 10.30pm, spanning from new releases to cult classics.
It’s a reel treat.
➊ Katsute100 | 100 Islington High Street, N1 8EG
➋ Regent’s Canal | Colebrooke Row, London N1 8AP
➌ Caravel | 172 Shepherdess Walk, Islington, N1 7JL
➍ Bruno’s | 172 Shepherdess Walk, Islington, N1 7JL
➎ Screen On The Green | 83 Upper Street, London N1 0NP
Looking for more inspiration? Try these 101 London Date Ideas on for size