Dating can be a minefield.
Whether you’re a suave, charming stud or a complete newcomer to the dating game, no one is exempt from those pre-date jitters. What will you wear? Will they appreciate your well-versed one-liners? Where are you going to take them?
Such questions are enough to make anyone hot under the collar; you’re already being judged on your dating ability and you might not have even met the other person yet. Talk about pressure.
As a food blogger, I have received texts from friends asking for advice on where they can take their dates then my friend James recommended I write a blog post about it. Why I didn’t think of this sooner I will never know but hey, this is dedicated to you James!
When you’re on a budget …
If your date is creative or into the arts in some way, the Arnolfini is a must and it’s absolutely free. With regularly changing exhibits, you can never predict what you’ll find in there but you’ll always have something to talk about as you walk around! If all goes well, King Street is five minutes away so you can schmooze your date over a pint afterwards.
Bristol Museum and Art Gallery
Is your date into history? Do they dig the Egyptians (see what I did there)? The Bristol Museum and Art Gallery is a good place to start a date and bonus, the exhibits will help take the pressure off you. Finish with a walk around Brandon Hill at sunset (it’s literally down the road) and you’re on to a winner. It’s a chilled date but it’s totally free and it’s got room for progression if you fancy grabbing dinner on Park Street afterwards.
Aluna are all about the razzmatazz when it comes to cocktails. If you take your date there on a Friday or Saturday night, you’ll see drinks being set alight, fizzing, popping, changing colour – you name it, Aluna’s drinks do it. With over 60 different cocktails to choose from, even a fussier date will find something they like and the price tags are very reasonable.
Words can’t express how much I love this app, you can even bag brunch at the Hobgoblin from £2.50 using Wriggle. Deals do get snapped up quickly and you won’t know what’s on offer until a few hours before but Wriggle provide great meal deals at independent restaurants across Bristol which come up every evening. Simply buy a meal for two on your app and rock on up with your date. Simples.
Use the code FHQZYT when you register to get £3 free credit.
Now, I’m not saying you should just take your date for a walk . A walk alone would be pretty uninspiring and it would all be over very quickly. However, the harbourside walk is very beautiful (during summer and winter) and goes past several places which are great stop-offs for a drink. I heartily recommend you check out the Rose of Denmark, The Grain Barge, The Pump House or Spoke and Stringer on your route round.
Out for a drink …
Her Majesty’s Secret Service
I’ve been here many a time with friends and for dates and I can tell you this place never fails to impress. The staff are incredibly lovely and the iconic drinks are fabulous. Perch yourselves on a couple of stools and tuck into a sharer cocktail whilst you munch on a mug full of peanuts. Watch yourself though, HMSS cocktails are STRONG.
Another favourite based slap bang in the middle of town in the heart of St Nicks. Whether you’re after a fine dining-esque meal or just a couple of expertly made cocktails, the Rummer is perfect for a date with plenty of little spots tucked away so you can have a little more privacy if you wish. Wink wink.
The Milk Thistle is classy place with an extensive drinks menu and seating spread out over four floors. You’ll see plush, traditional features and the lights are kept low. The Milk Thistle is the perfect place to go if you want to sport your glad rags and see your date looking dapper. It’s best to book this one ahead of time to avoid being turned away, you’ll definitely earn extra brownie points for preparing ahead of time.
Oh come on, I was always going to mention this place, we have the same name! The Grace has everything you could want for a first date, a beautifully decorated beer garden out the back, a great but chilled atmosphere and delicious food. The Grace also serve small plates so you can swap and share with your date at your candlelit table if you want to progress from drinks to dinner.
On a winter evening …
Whether you’re after a leisurely brunch or a cosy tapas-style dinner, Poco is a winner. Everything is as locally and ethically sourced as possible and the open kitchen gives the place a really intimate feel. There prices will make you very happy too.
A lot of people go to the cinema on dates but the Watershed has something a little bit more special about it. Showing arts house films in a spacious theatre, I’ve had many a great night here. There’s also a great balcony which looks out over the harbour if you fancy grabbing a drink with your date after the film. Be sure to bring a blanket!
Who doesn’t love a bit of theatre? The Tobacco Factory in an edgy theatre in Bedminster which plays host to a wide range of shows from Romeo and Juliet to plays which are, well, a little more alternative. You may not even be sat in the theatre at all, the Tobacco Factory have run plays at the Arnos Vale Cemetery in the past. Now if that doesn’t impress your date, they don’t deserve a second round!
An absolute staple for dating. The Galli regularly features work from Bristol-based artists on its walls, it serves some of the best food I’ve ever tasted and it’s always got live music going on. George Ezra has played there before. The Galli has a great outdoors seating area with heated lamps just above the benches at the back, the perfect spot to have a glass of wine on a crisp winter evening with a great view of Glozzy Road.
Deco Lounge, Tinto Lounge – they’re all great for a relaxed evening out. At night, candles are lit on the tables and there are board games stored away if you fancy a game or two. The menu is the same across all branches and includes the good ol’ favourites from mac and cheese to steak and chips. You can find the Lounges all over Bristol so hit up their website to find the one closest to you. Many also host quiz nights which are always fun!
Playing a game of Battleship over a pint of craft beer, curled up in leather armchairs? You couldn’t possibly go wrong with such a scenario. Sat on King Street, Small Bar is a great one to visit for a weeknight date. Astound your date with your exquisite tastes in beer and show them upstairs to the library area where you can sink each other’s battleships until the early hours.
Those summer nights…
One of my best dates, hands down, included a trip to the Olive Shed (not to be mistaken with the deli on Glozzy Road) in the summer. Positioned right beside the water’s edge, The Olive Shed is the perfect place to go at sunset, especially when you’ve got a bottle of wine and some tapas dishes to enjoy outside in their courtyard. Round off the date with a stroll about the harbour and a little stargazing when you find a quiet spot.
West Country dwellers are known for their love of cider and you won’t find better cider than that served at The Apple. Treat your date to a half pint of the Apple’s infamous “Old Bristolian” and indulge in one of their sharer picnics as you sit on one of the long picnic tables above the cobbles. Queen’s Square is a stone’s throw away so you can stretch out on the grass or hit up one of the summer festivals going on there after.
Keep it casual and take your date on a trip to the Canteen. It’s great for the more laid-back types who love a good party and everyone you meet at the Canteen is always super friendly. With a free bowl of soup with every main (win) and live music every night, the Canteen rolls dinner and entertainment into one.
Stroll along the downs on a warm summer’s day, taking in the views of the Clifton Suspension bridge and surprise your date with a pre-prepared picnic which you can enjoy at a quiet spot of your choosing.
I could go on and on and on about places you could take a date in Bristol because there are SO MANY. Through dating you can meet someone incredible but you can also discover amazing new places. Our wonderful city has so much to offer so be inspired and get creative. This might just be the last first date you ever have … No pressure.