First dates are a nightmare (obviously I go on LOADS) and you need to have a repertoire of reliable, consistent places where nothing will go wrong (the food, at least - your date still may be a complete weirdo!).
It's a delightful Bloomsbury Italian kitch-fest. If your date is down-to-earth, fun, loves nostalgia and cheap, tasty food, this is the place. I wrote about it in-depth here.
This cosy little faux-french place has been here for years. My older friends talk fondly of it being a media gathering place back in the 80s. I've been a few times, each time late at night after a few too many drinks on a date and food is suggested. Staff are always lovely, managing to fit you in somehow. There's a great atmosphere with couples and foursomes chatting eagerly about what I romantically imagine would be their latest piece or screenplay. It's sophisticated enough to be grand but rustic enough to not seem ostentatious, with candles in wine bottles, and they were doing hand written photocopied menus when Duck soup was a mere twinkle in an old Drake's eye. The food is delicious and the wine is cheap.
If you need a bit of distraction, and you don't want to risk any awkward silences, go to Mele e Pere. It's noisy, busy and the food is great. It's a fairly new opening so if you want to impress with somewhere cool, take your date here.
Finding another fish lover can be a real treat, and if they are enthusiastic enough not to mind paying good money, J Sheekey must be one of the best places for a fishy date. I once sat here and witnessed a guy propose to his girlfriend, with the ring in a glass of Champagne. I haven't been for ages but hopefully this Caprice holdings place will be knocking out British fish classics for many more years. First time I ever had squid ink black rice was here, as a teenager. Also great because you can drop the great fish restaurant pun: "I only come 'ere for the 'alibut" (groan). They have a cookbook coming out for Christmas.
OK, sometimes you want to impress. BBR is the place to do it. Rhubarb gin & tonic at the bar, super Russian style, (you feel like you could be on the orient express) classic dishes, (beef holstien, pickled herring salad, steak tartare) and lemons that come wrapped in muslin. The beef onglet is fabulous. There is the most beautifully presented food I've ever had. Why this place doesn't get talked about more I don't know. Lavishly romantic, it's one of my favourite restaurants on any occasion.