The Greyhound, Beaconsfield
This gastropub is a total no-brainer for a date night – not only is it a Muddy Award-winner (the highest accolade, naturally), it recently made Estrella Damm’s Top 100 Gastropubs, coming in at number 54. With a Michelin-star pedigree, sleek decor in a Grade II-listed build, an impressive wine list and a menu to make your mouth water (we recommend the £65 tasting menu), it’s ideal if you’re headed out-out.
The Mole Inn, Toot Baldon
For those who prefer a tucked-away country boozer to a slick city-centre eatery, The Mole Inn is a foodie hidden gem. Set in the rural hamlet of Toot Baldon, it’s a cosy, convivial affair, with a locally-sourced menu (the lamb and pork comes from Sandy Lane Farm in Tiddington, and the game from local shoots) that’s made up of elevated pub classics.
The Griffin, Amersham
As if this gorgeously appointed gastropub in the heart of Old Amersham isn’t romantic enough, they’re offering a Valentine’s Day sharing menu that’ll knock your socks off. This seven-course menu (£80pp) includes everything from crispy fried oysters with sweet and sour chilli jam to treacle and walnut poached guinea fowl with truffle honey and a baked brie pie (!) – never fear, veggies, there’s a menu for you too. If you’re really spoiling yourself, add the wine pairings for an extra £75pp.
The Nut Tree Inn, Murcott
Another gastropub to make this year’s Estrella Damm’s list (coming in at number 58), The Nut Tree Inn has held on to their well-deserved Michelin star since 2009! Don’t get the wrong impression though – it’s far from a stuffy, formal affair, and still feels like a welcoming village pub. Choose between the excellent seasonal a la carte menu, or the eight-course tasting menu (nine, if you can manage to fit in the optional cheese course) at £80pp.
Blossom Room, Milton Keynes
This one’s worth it for the Instagram clout alone! A buzzy cocktail bar with an Asian-inspired menu, Blossom Room in the centre of MK is as much a feast for the eyes as it is for your belly. Treat yourself to the specially-curated Valentine’s Day menu of small plates and wash it all down with 2-for-1 cocktails (Blossom Room Fizz with gin and cherry brand for us, ta).
The Double Red Duke, nr Faringdon
This relative newcomer to the Cotswolds gastro scene is already making a name for itself, thanks to the lip-smacking menu by head chef Richard Sandiford, who previously worked at The Hawksmoor. Open fire cooking is a speciality here, so expect plenty of grilled meat and fish (veggies may want to swerve this one) as well as elegant snacks and small plates. If you can swing an overnight stay, the rooms are well worth it.
Fed up of gloomy Feb weather? Treat your tastebuds to a Spanish excursion courtesy of Pluma and you can pretend you’re on a sunny jaunt in Seville, rather than on the High Street in Amersham. As well as a cracking wine menu, there are hot and cold tapas to sink your teeth into (top tip: try the house croquettes) and Iberian pork, Galician beef and mussels a-plenty.
The Tipsy Mercer, Abingdon
Prefer your lunches liquid? This one’s technically cheating as it’s a cocktail bar, but as it’s a Muddy Award-winner (and a bloody lovely one at that), we couldn’t resist adding it to our list. It’s perfect if you’re out for a post-dinner, pre-dancing (or pre-bed!) nightcap, and there’s often live music. Plus, Happy Hour is 4-8pm, Sun-Thurs – handy when Valentine’s Day is a Monday!