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A bartender's night off...

The First Date

Grant Neave, Monkey Shoulder Brand Ambassador
The following events are based on a true story.

A few months back I chanced my luck and invited an insanely hot female on a date, and amazingly she accepted!

As I’m sure you are all aware, first dates are generally a trial of execution, get it wrong and you’re basically dead to your date, get it right and you can open the gates to the garden of Eden, no pressure! Rather than a simple dinner and drinks date I decided to be slightly more original and put together a Food Safari, a three course dinner with each course at a different venue.

Finally it was date night, so off I went with suitably sweaty palms, way too much after shave on and a pocket full of chewing gum to meet the Goddess, I should probably point out at this stage she had no idea of what to expect other than me telling her it was going to be the best date of her life! (I tend to dramatise things)
  • Start here

    Portside Parlour


    14 Rivington Street, London, EC2A 3DU


    Mon-CLOSED, Tue-Sun 5.30pm-Midnight

    Food Safari stop 1: Having met my victim, sorry date, at Liverpool Street Station and not wanting to hide my stereotypical Scottish stingyness, I made her walk the 10 minute journey to Portside Parlour. We were given an incredibly warm welcome and popped down on the two free seats at the bar to enjoy our John Rose cocktails. Whilst Portside Parlour is known for its wonderful drinks it also hides a chef, (with a Michelin Star background) who creates the most beautiful and exciting tapas, making it the ideal location for our starter. Having stayed for an unexpected second round of drinks, I was already falling behind on my military precision timings, thankfully Uber weren’t messing about and picked us up within minutes, sadly I was a little under prepared and hadn’t put spotify on my phone rendering me useless in getting some Barry White playing for the short trip to our main course.

  • Move On



    40 Commercial Street , E1 6LP


    Mon-Thu 11am-Midnight Fri-Sat 11am-2am Sun 11am-11pm

    Food Safari stop 2: Culpeper was recommended to me by a friend that is involved in the restaurant business and what a recommendation it was, everything from the efficient online booking to the “thanks for coming” was awesome! Our waiter got us to our table and handed us the menus, at which point I went all alpha male and informed him that we’d be having the beef to share without ever considering that my female companion might be vegetarian, thankfully she was a carnivore. With a decent wine list I decided to hand the pressure of picking our main course tipple on to the lady, she’d been at a few London Wine Week events that week so I figured she’d pick something delicious. Suddenly in a shock turn of events the waiter is back at our table with his wine recommendations, I do my best to hide a mild panic attack and the sweat passing through my George by Asda jumper at the unknown cost of these recommendations (Scottish remember), sure enough she went with his advice. The wine is poured and the food arrives, both are unbelievably delicious and the exceptional service continues though out our time at the table. The bill comes and I could almost kiss the waiter for his wine choice, he clearly knows what he’s doing and there was no way I was able to hide my relief, Culpepper offers excellence at a great price.

  • Move On



    1 Redchurch Street, London, E2 7DJ


    Mon-Fri 8am-11pm, Sat-Sun 10am-11pm

    Food Safari stop 3: In my head I think I’ve been absolutely hilarious (including a massively immature joke that involved the bone from our main) and good company in general, so I move on to the third venue with confidence. Still running a little late, I did contact the restaurant to let them know, we got to our dessert venue, Andina. Having heard great reports about their sharing Picarones Doughnuts made with pumpkin, purple maize syrup and chocolate fudge I knew I was on to a winner. Sadly, due to a severe food coma setting in we opted for espressos and didn’t try any of the Pisco cocktail offering, but having read the menu I’ll be returning to Andina with the sole intention of sampling a number of their cocktails.

  • End Here

    Callooh Callay


    65 Rivington Street, London, EC2A 3AY


    Mon-Sun 6pm-1am

    Food Safari stop 4: In a bid to give off the impression that I’m cool and have friends in the know I took the unicorn (that makes sense if you’ve seen the Hot to Crazy ratio video) over to Jub Jub at Callooh Callay where we were greeted and escorted through the keypad locked door to our seats at the bar. Nathan was behind the stick and had a rough idea of when we planned to arrive so when we did get there he had a bottle of Ruinart Champagne chilled and waiting for us. After the Champagne we tried out cocktails from Nathan’s list. With time pressing on and me not wanting to get drunk and do something stupid in front of her I turn to my date and told her that it was time for me to go home, so after thanking her for being part of an amazing night I gave her a peck on the cheek, a light slap on the bum and headed off to Loves Company to party the shit out of it!


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