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showcasing the best of the south west

Top 10 Romantic Restaurants in the SW


Pictured above: The Grosvenor Arms in Shaftesbury The Grosvenor Arms, Dorset

We're probably a little biased when it comes to the Grosvenor Arms but that's because we're still excited to have a local restaurant offering fantastic food and a vibey bar which just begs you to sink into a sofa and down a cocktail or three.

There are lots of nooks and crannies here which are perfect for hiding out on your own. Kick off with a perfectly made Cosmo or a glass of prosecco in the bar then choose from the dining room, the conservatory, the alcove or a private room. The food is really special here, courtesy of head chef Neil Duffett who is obsessed with locality and provenance (he chooses the fish himself from the boat). We'd recommend the home-made ravioli followed by fish (always brilliant) though carnivores will find a steak from legendary Irwene Minster butcher Simon Harvel hard to resist. Afterwards there's the very alluring possibility of checking into one of the fab bedrooms upstairs or at least heading back to the bar for a nightcap. And by the way, canine  lovers, there's a dog food menu available on request too so  you can bring your pooch on a date if that's more your thing.

Casanis, Somerset

Conjure up your idyllic French bistro with fabulous food, soft lighting and a romantic interior filled with Provencal antiques. Welcome to Casanis, a favourite neighbourhood hangout. Chef Laurent Couvreur creates classic French food but with an interesting twist - crab and herb parfait with bouillabaisse vinaigrette, roast quail with dauphinoise, venison fillet with ceps and pearl barley risotto. And to follow? Has to be warm apple tart aux fines with vanilla ice cream. A beautiful setting, great service, fantastic Provencal cooking and the atmosphere of a true French restaurant, you won't believe you're in Bath. Classic proposal setting, lovers, look no further.

Paul Ainsworth at No 6, Cornwall  

A beautiful, bijoux restaurant with stellar cooking from Paul Ainsworth (ex Petrus) but in a pleasingly relaxed environment. You're here for the incredible food, trendily packaged on the menu so 'pickled duck' is bird's liver, toasted clotted cream brioche. Cornish saddle back pork - grilled lettuce, crackling, scallop, orchard sauce. All you really need to know though is that the food is beyond wonderful and this lovely Georgian townhouse has been brought up to date with a cool, pared back modern interior. Go soon.  

At the Chapel, Somerset  

At the Chapel always gets everything right in our view. A spectacular room with arched windows and a dizzyingly high ceiling in this converted Wesleyan chapel with lots of tables for two dotted around. For real privacy you could ask to eat upstairs on the balcony. Food hits the spot - we're unable to come here without ordering the chicken liver parfait which comes in a dinky with toasted sourdough (fresh from the woodfired overn) and chutney. Fish is excellent (sea bream with braised fennel and porcini gets our vote) but a Clanville Farm steak with peppercorn sauce would be sure to please. Share a vanilla cheesecake with stem ginger for pudding and book ahead for one of the 8 stunning bedrooms. Room 2 is most romantic with a 17th century lancet window.

Greens Restaurant, Bristol, Somerset

The menu at Greens is modern British with classic French and European influences. All you really need to know though is that the food is right up there in last meal category (curried seared scallops with coconut dahl, aged rump steak with Cafe de Paris butter, mash and sprouting broccoli will get male pulses racing) the interior is soothing and softly lit, the tables are well spaced, the puddings are the kind you'll want to share. On Valentine's Day that'll be dark chocolate and hazelnut delice, pear sorbet, caramel and amaretti biscuit. See what we mean?

 

Fifteen Cornwall, Cornwall  

Romance has always tasted  better with a good sea view and Fifteen Cornwall with its glass front looking out over Watergate Bay cannot be beaten. It lifts the spirits too to know you're taking part in Jamie Oliver's mission helping Cornwall's disadvantaged youth reinvent themselves with a foodie career. The open theatre kitchen will provide enough action to cover up any uncomfortable pauses. Chef Andy Appleton is passionate about locality, antipasti is his speciality. Meat, fish and vegetables are frequently cooked the new charcoal fired oven. Think monkfish with borlotti beans and olive salsa or Longhorn beef with marrow bone and fresh horseradish. We'll take the white chocolate tart with raspberries and praline for pudding thanks. Afterwards treat yourself to a night at the Watergate Hotel with its spectacularly romantic pool looking out to sea.

Percy's Hotel, Devon  

There are so many reasons to love Percy's, a hotel and restaurant in a traditional Devon longhouse on the Coombeshead Estate. Owners Tony and Tina breed pigs and sheep, chickens, geese and grow all the restaurant's vegetables. If you care about provenance then this place will blow your mind. Don a pair of green wellies lined up outside the restaurant, take a stroll round the homestead and see for yourself. The food is simple, organic and exceptional - wild mushroom and chicken liver parfait with sage toast, oven-roast home reared lamb cooked pink with rosemary jus. Puddings are a speciality - caramelised apple tart with cassia bark ice cream, cardamom and lime creme brulee, chocolate, prune and hazelnut tart with Armagnac and dark chocolate ice cream. Bring it on.        

The Scarlet Hotel, Cornwall  

We think the adults only Scarlet Hotel reinvented romance making it cool and laid-back with an element of lo-fi luxury. Yes this place is a magnet for couples but in such a chilled out environment you won't even notice. In an ideal world you'd book a slot in the clifftop hot-tub before dinner with your own champagne-toting waiter. The food here is truly spectacular and the restaurant looks out over beautiful Mawgan Porth beach. Chef Tom Hunter is passionate about locality and his menu is inventive Cornish. Hand-dived Falmouth River scallops, salad of Cornish crab, shellfish bisque, rouille to start followed by Cornish duck breast, cavelo nero, orange braised chicory, duck fat chips, b√©arnaise sauce? We'd recommend the wine matching, a delicious, perfectly chosen glass of wine to accompany each course. You just can't beat it.

Hix Oyster & Fish House, Lyme Regis. Dorset

Probably Dorset's number one 'date restaurant' and deservedly so, the go-to place for anniversaries, birthdays, marriage reinvention. Mark Hix may be quietly taking over the world but you wouldn't know it here - brilliant service, knock out views of Lyme Bay and the Cobb and the food, well, let's just call it sublime. Very simple, very fresh, Lyme Bay seabass filet with Morecambe Bay shrimps and buttered potatoes. Oyster officiandos, this is your heaven. There's a tempting early bird deal on Valentine's Day 3 courses for £39 a head between 5 and 7.30 and then the night is yours, to walk along the Cobb, head back home to unwrap the La Perla, you choose.

 

Pythouse Kitchen Garden, Wiltshire

If you're on the hunt for a romantic setting you can't go wrong with Pythouse walled garden and restaurant. Yes it's fab in summer when you can sit out in the idyllic garden but we love it in winter too, cosied up by one of the log burners. Beautiful mismatched vintage furniture and china, vegetables from the garden, lamb from the Pythouse estate. Open for dinner Thursday, Friday and Saturday (yes Valentine's is covered). Cured salmon with blackened figs and charred onions, slow cooked pork belly with black pudding and heritage carrots, raspberry and vanilla cheesecake with liquorice ice cream. A well chosen wine list and just the loveliest vibe in this very original setting.

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