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Five best: first dates in Leeds

Xanthi Barker looks for the city’s more romantic spots

Published on March 23rd 2011.


Five best: first dates in Leeds

1. Touch-me-I-have-a-quiff
Collect your date at 8pm sharp (in a vintage Cadillac) and head down to Shaky Jake’s where you can slurp milkshakes made from an infinite list of ingredients and swivel your chrome stools to the rock ‘n’ roll soundtrack, bonding over a shared love of pink wafers.

To complete the retro experience, head to Cottage Road Cinema to hold hands in the dark and kiss all the way through intermission. Don’t forget to call your date ‘baby’ and ask her if she’d like to go steady.

Budget: milkshake and cinema for two - £17

2. Touch-me-I’m-romantic
Romance is running water and good lighting. Arrange to meet by the river just before the Sun sets (suggested pre-date text: ‘meet me at dusk on the banks of the Aire’) and walk west, squinting into the horizon and discussing existentialism.

Make sure your pockets are filled with bread to toss to the ducks (whilst you pause a moment to appreciate the gravity of what you are saying). Sit down on the banks and share a home-made cupcake (stored casually in the other pocket). Try to duck into one of the riverside bars before the sun has actually set or hearts throbbing with romance may start pounding with fear.

Budget: bread roll - 10p

3. Drunk-me-I’m-jam-jarred
If you’re a little unsure of how to start a sober conversation with a person you’ve met barely once, some alcoholic lubrication may be in order. To ensure mutual inebriation, try Smokestack for an inhibition-shattering jam-jar full of over-proof rum and instant discussion. Upstairs the music is louder and the sofas are softer - a good option if your date is good-looking but the alcohol is making you even less capable of speech. And when your brain starts to blur, you can get up and dance yourselves to soul and funk-filled oblivion.

Budget: South of Soho kiln jar for two - £10

4. Touch-me-I-love-animals
For an altogether more wholesome experience, wander through Meanwood Urban Farm, brushing shoulders as you reach over a fence to scratch the friendly head of a goat, pig or sheep. There is no better path to cuteness in the eyes of your potential lover than feeding the cutesy lamb held tenderly in your arms (NB: extreme broodiness can also be a turn-off). For an ethical break from your countryside adventure, share some locally-sourced, freshly-made dinner from the farm café, or buy some freshly-laid eggs and blush at the insinuation of a shared breakfast.

Budget: entry and sandwich for two - £8

5. Touch-me-under-the-table-and-don’t-tell-my-boyfriend
Perhaps you and your date prefer your animals stuffed, sautéed or spatchcocked. You may also feel the same about your actual partners and this is your final (cowardly, shameful, sexy as hell) attempt to break free - the first date of an illicit affair. Sous le Nez is your place. Tripping down the steps into the labyrinthine basement, surrounded by endlessly wine-racked walls and french-accented waiters, even a saint would be seduced. Assuage your guilt with a plethora of carnivorous delights and fine wines. It’s normal in France, right? (No, you sick, twisted individual. Cultural stereotypes are not mitigating circumstances). Monogamous couples also welcome.

Budget: dinner and wine for two - £60-80

Shaky Jakes - 2, Gateway House, 15 North Ln, Headingley, LS6 3HG, 0113 217 9156
Cottage Road Cinema - Cottage Rd, LS6 4DD, 0113 275 1606
Smokestack - 159a Lower Briggate, LS1 6LY, 0113 245 2222
Meanwood Valley Urban Farm - Sugar Well Road, Meanwood, LS7 2QG 0113 262 9759
Sous le Nez - 9 Quebec St, LS1 2HA, 0113 244 0108

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