FRIENDDATES1

Q: What is a friendship date?

 A: Just like what you’d consider a ‘normal’ date, but without the romantic/sexual tension.

Considering the amount of airtime TV and movies give to the need to build up – or preserve – a love interest through dinner, activities and carefully planned gestures of passion, there just isn’t enough discussion on the need to develop or maintain those other incredibly important relationships: the ones you have with your pals. Whether you’re trying to see your new mate at work outside of the office, or feel you should take the time to show your best buddy from school days that you care, friendship dates are incredibly important for making sure you spend time with those people who will be there for you – when the sun is shining, and when the rain starts to fall, and also when it’s just a bit groggy and overcast.

 Q: OK, fair enough. But I am poor as hell – how can I afford to show my various friends the love, in this expensive capital?

 A: I’m glad you asked. Without further ado, here are five friendship dates in London for under £20*

 1. Lobster from Burger and Lobster

A restaurant that knows what it is. There are three items on the menu: burger, lobster, and lobster roll, and they all cost the same – £20. Don’t be quirky and go for the patty with the justification that it must be ‘a really, really good burger’, because quite frankly there is a lobster waiting to be had for a very low price, and there’s nothing like this beloved crustacean to add a touch of class to your economical date. The roll is also very delicious, if you are a fan of brioche.

burgerandlobster.com

2. Weeknight drinks at the Adventure Bar

Everyone loves the Adventure Bar – it’s all visually stunning cocktails, witty bartenders and music that reminds you of parties past. If you sign up to their mailing list, you get a free £10 drink coupon to use during Adventure Time which will buy any cocktail on the menu. Adventure Time (like happy hour) lasts till midnight Sunday-Thursday, and also includes a selection of cocktails for £6. That means four drinks for less than £20, plus the priceless gift of having a film on your phone of your buddy singing her heart out to Bruce Springsteen. Go for the Flaming Zombie with your voucher – it’s literally on fire.

adventurebar.co.uk

3. Brasserie Zédel

This gorgeous French brasserie, right in the middle of Soho, is the kind of place you want to wear a nice dress/suit to: everything feels so proper, even down to their incredibly nice (cloth!) napkins. It also does an incredibly mean steak haché which can be paired with some carrottes rapées, cafés gourmands or a tarte aux fruits. £9.75 for two courses, £12.75 for three. Stare into your friends eyes and tell her/him ‘je t’aime, mon ami(e)’.

 brasseriezedel.com

4. Drink, Shop, Do

There are two types of Do’s at this quirky cafe-cum-bar. The first are workshops and classes you pay for, like making a flower hairband for £15, learning the dance moves to ‘All the Single Ladies’ for £10 – and both, I’m sure you’ll agree, are solid investments of cash. The second are the free classes you can enjoy alongside a drink, including Play with Clay Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lego Robots, and Lionel Rich Tea biscuits. Grab a DSD Planter’s Punch (£16, serves two) or a couple of beers (from £4.20) and remember you pay not just for a beverage, but for entertainment, and some great Instagram fodder.

drinkshopdo.com

5. Bottomless Brunch with Booze, The Great Exhibition

The novelty factor is too much to pass up: for £20, you will get a main, bottomless tea, coffee, toast and unlimited Bucks Fizzes or Bloody Marys. Head on over to kick off your Saturday with eggs, drinking and the giddy thrill of being able to say ‘unlimited cocktails’.

greatexhibition.pub

6. The Wellcome Collection

A place for the ‘incurably curious’, filled with things to spark both imaginations and conversations, The Wellcome Collection is as charming as it is free, and has literally been able to make an exhibition about dirt interesting to all who visited it: actors and geologists alike. Be sure to catch their Institute of Sexology before it closes on the 20th of September.

Having worked up an appetite through your intellectual pursuits, then head over to the Tottenham Court Road Franco Manca for glorious sourdough pizzas (from £4.50, and a generous size at that). The Teunte Normano’s Organic Farm Red is lovely, earthy, perfect for splitting between two and only £13.95.

wellcomecollection.org, francomanca.co.uk

7. Makeovers

Head to a department store like Debenhams, filled with make-up counters. Whereas some brands will ask a certain amount for a makeover, to be spent on products after the transformation (like MAC), others are happy to help you try out their products and give you new looks for free. Bobbi Brown offers make-up lessons gratis, on topics from Smoky Eyes to brows, and Urban Decay offers some great looks that can be grabbed before a big night out…you and you friend can double up party prep with bonding time. Spend the £20 on your new favourite beauty buys, or head out for a drink…in fact, The Adventure Bar isn’t so far away…

debenhams.com

 *per person, excluding tip. But now you’re just being pedantic.

Follow Laura on twitter: @LauraTheRealGi