Food & Drink Survey 2014: First Dates – Love Blossoms at Leaf

A winner in the Best Place for a First Date category as well as one of your favourite cafés for the Northwest, we check out Leaf's flirtation-friendly events in January

Feature by Jamie Faulkner | 07 Jan 2014

Urgh, ain't dating hard?

Even something as relatively simple as dining out can become a fraught affair: Who pays? What level of swankiness to choose? What if your date suffers from deipnophobia, the abnormal fear of dining and dinner conversation? It’s possible.

After that, you’re left with only a few safe options: going for a hot drink (preferably not Bovril); drinking alcohol (preferably not on a park bench), and seeing some live music (preferably not One Direction).

Thankfully, Leaf on Liverpool’s Bold Street has all these bases covered, making it a no-brainer for first-date action. If you’re thinking that it’s one of those ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’ places, then you’d be wrong. They started out in 2007 with a mission to bring quality loose leaf tea to the city, so they’ve had the hot beverage department sorted for a while now. With roughly 30 teas on their menu, you’ll also have an obvious ice-breaker. We’re not sure the “Oh, I didn’t know there was such a thing as white tea” conversation is going to light any fires, however.

Leaf pull no punches when it comes to alcohol either: the beer list won’t have the ale-heads swooning but it’s bound to please most (and, generally, divisive menus are to be avoided on first dates, as is beer snobbery); their wine list, too, is affordable and no afterthought. And if live music is what you’re after, they’ve had gigs by the likes of College and Julia Holter in 2013.

So, if you’ve roped someone – not literally we hope – into going on a date with you in the first month of 2014, we thought we’d share some of Leaf’s potentially romance-inducing events this month:

Life Drawing Workshop (5 Jan) – Take someone along for a kooky first date or just strike up a rapport with the model. At least there'll be no genitalia-related surprises further down the line.

Out of the Bedroom (14 Jan) – An open-mic night. A good idea if you've got what people call a "singing voice", and can thus impress your date and strangers simultaneously.

Harvest Sun presents Nathaniel Rateliff (24 Jan) – There's nothing like a bit of folk balladry to stir up heartfelt emotions and a good bit of bonding.

Don't live in Liverpool? According to you, the places for romance in Manchester are apparently Common, Bakerie, and Épernay champagne bar. The first is perfect at striking a balance between the hip and the not overly fussed; the latter two are moodily lit with corners made for couples. HOST in Liverpool was something of an anomaly, but its variety of pan-Asian food might have played a part.