Tag Archives: Petek

Top 5… Budget London Date Venues

The Prop Store

Sometimes life calls for a little date. Not a big date, which would demand for heels, a blowdry and ~booking~ something (P.S. I’ve never got a blowdry for a date. Soz, Andrew). I’m talking a spontaneous, “Hey, shall we go out tonight? Just you and me?” date. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be with someone you feel a bit woozy with love or lust about, it could just as easily be a pal.

These evenings, in my experience, are normally best when they’re local, often in a little place that you discover – a gem that’s budget-friendly. In these places, the staff leave you alone to chat, the wine is decent and the food delicious. You leave the place arm in arm and step out into a cold, dark evening thinking how life is a little bit better for your date being in your life.

I’ve compiled a list of my top five date venues, where I’ve had evenings like this and think you might be able to enjoy them too.

1. Le Mercury, Upper Street, Islington

Le Mercury, Upper Street
Le Mercury, Upper Street

I’ve had more than one lovely evening here, with a range of different people from friends to family to my boyfriend. Each evening has been great. At Le Mercury they serve simple French food, and offer little tables close to one another and soft candlelight. There’s a huge capacity, and due to their massive popularity in North London they’ve actually expanded from their original restaurant to a second venue just down the road. The great thing about Le Mercury is that for those on a budget or splitting the meal, each offering on the menu is the same price per course. So starters are all £4.45, mains £9.95. And you know what? The food is really bloody good for that price. It holds a little special place in my heart, and is definitely one of Andrew and mine’s favourites.

2. Petek, Stroud Green Road, Finsbury Park

Petek, Stroud Green Road
Petek, Stroud Green Road

I’ve written a more extensive review of Petek before, which you can read by clicking on the link above, so I won’t go on too much. But this is one of my fave date venues. It helps we currently live very close to Petek, but it is like a beacon of joy on the somewhat grey Stroud Green Road. Inside the lighting is glowy and soft and the service is friendly without being all up in your grill. It’s pretty darn perfect. And it kind of feels like you’re on a Mediterranean holiday in there. All that is missing is the stray dogs.

3. Kettners, Soho

Grab a booth at Kettners
Grab a booth at Kettners

OK, so Kettners might not fall into the “little-known place” bracket, as it is a London institution, but I like it as a date place so it’s going in, alright? Good.

I’m not talking about the restaurant here, cos that’s all sparkly and new and, well, just a fairly standard Soho restaurant. I’m talking about the champagne and cocktail bar. That might sound a little intimidating, but don’t be put off! Really it’s a cosy and relaxed bar, and is great for people watching. Dangerously, you can buy champagne in glasses, half bottles or bottles. And they stock a lot of champagne. So what might start out as a cheeky flute of bubbles can gloriously descend into an evening of being drunk on champagne and feeling all cosy and great. They do great cocktails too.

4. Albertine, Wood Lane, Shepherd’s Bush

Albertine, Wood Lane
Albertine, Wood Lane

If you ever had the misfortune to be in Shepherd’s Bush, as I did for a good while when I worked at the BBC, then Albertine is like a beautiful oasis in the drab wasteland of Shepherd’s Bush. I’m not suggesting you go there for a meal, because I’ve only had one proper meal there and it was slightly odd and slapdash. No, I mean you go there for drinks and snacks. Albertine’s is a wine bar, and owned by a guy who is obviously passionate about wine. Consequently, the wine list is bloody massive and has wines from all over the world. They also do a good line in bar snacks, with my faves being mini chorizo sausages. It’s all a bit rustic at Albertine’s. You can sit in the window, hunker down for the night and have really great chats.

5. The Prop Store, Southbank

The Prop Store
The Prop Store

One of my closest and most charming friends introduced me to The Prop Store, for it is attached to the National Theatre, where she works. Had it not been for her, I don’t think I would have found it as it’s quite easy to miss a lot of stuff on Southbank, especially in the Summer when the Prop Store operates.

Yes, indeed, this is a seasonal bar. As I said, it’s run by the National and exhibits inside an interesting array of props from the theatre company. The bar itself is kind of tiny and it does take a while to get served, but the drinks are reasonable for Southbank, and you can spill out onto the river bank on a hot, sticky summer evening and have one of those nights when you’re like, “Yeah, London is so pretty and awesome and I get to live here!” And although I generally find Southbank a bit too frantic in the summer months, it’s nice to rest up at the Prop Store and watch the world go by.

So that’s my list. Do you have any cute little places you like to go on for dates? Think I’ve missed somewhere? Rant at me in the comments.

Restaurant Review – Petek, Stroud Green Road, N4

The mixed shish from Petel

I needed cheering up last night, so Andrew suggested going out. I thought about where I wanted us to go. Somewhere warm, friendly, with good, reasonably priced food. It was no contest – Petek won out.

Since moving to Finsbury Park, Petek has fast become my favourite restaurant. It’s a lovely, large-ish Turkish restaurant on Stroud Green Road. Outside, when it’s sunny, people sit on the chairs and tables and sip their delicious cocktails. Inside, there’s a busy atmosphere and decor, which never fails to bring a smile to my face – the twinkling lights dangling from the ceiling, the happy but bustling waiters. It’s just brilliant OK. And the food is also absolutely delicious.

As soon as you’re seated, you’re brought a huge basket of freshly baked, warm flatbreads with a chilli-tomato salsa and some beautiful gleaming gems of olives.



The portions at Petek are more than generous, but I never learn and always dive into the bread basket with wild abandon.

The delicious complimentary chilli salsa. It's addictive.
The delicious complimentary chilli salsa. It’s addictive.

We can never resist ordering their fresh, homemade baba ghanoush, which is fresh and creamy with a wonderful olive oil zesty zip. It comes in a huge bowl and is a pretty big feast in itself.

Petek's homemade babaganoush. 'Scuse boyfriend's hand - he just couldn't wait.
Petek’s homemade baba ghanoush. ‘Scuse boyfriend’s hand – he just couldn’t wait.

Petek does a large menu of grilled meats and hot and cold meze. The grilled meats come in all varieties and I’m yet to find a disappointing option. Last night I went for their mixed shish.

The mixed shish from Petel
The mixed shish from Petel

This comes with a huge salad, both chicken and lamb grilled shish, yoghurt sauce, rice and pita bread. It was delicious. I’ve never had better grilled meats, and the rice is always perfectly cooked and steaming.

I cannot remember the name of Andrew’s dish, but essentially it’s grilled chicken in a tomato sauce, with rice and yoghurt and grilled veggies. He said it was excellent too.


This massive meal, with two drinks, came to £40. More than worth it. I’m just planning on when I can go back next.

Service: 5

Venue: 5

Value: 5

Overall: 5

Petek, 96 Stroud Green Road, N4.

Nearest tube: Finsbury Park (5 min walk)

Petek on Urbanspoon

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