I don't know about you but there's something about sharing glances over the dinner table that means you're ready to get to know someone more than sitting closely in a bar or shouting at each other over music in the club.
Ben and I have shared many a meal together in the 3 months we've been together now. From late night Chicken Cottages after nights out with mates or lazy Sunday lunches with one eye on each other and the other on the football scores.
I've always said that you should never do a dinner date for the first date. They are so intense and it's always far too early for them to learn that I shovel food in my mouth at the speed of lightning. HOWEVER when you really are trying to get to know each other, a delicious meal in a cosy atmosphere is totally the one.
Luckily, early on in our relationship, I was invited by Asia De Cuba to come and try their Sunday boozy brunch. Food, alcohol and a swanky location? I was going to do some digging into my new boyf. So here's what I learned there...
Family and Friends
Early relationship conversations tackle the basics, don't they? And you can learn a lot about someone from how they speak about their friends and family. If someone is guarded about them, could it mean they aren't ready to let you in? Or could it mean that they're equally as guarded about you? However, if they open up and speak about their nearest and dearest with affection and enthusiasm then that could mean they really are ready to share a lot.
There's nothing I love more than a boozy brunch and using the excuse of downing Asia De Cuba's bottomless mojitos to loosen the lips on my brunching boyfriend was a great way to learn more lessons about him.
An important lesson for me in any relationship is how someone handles themselves whilst consuming alcohol. Many relationships in my life have been with people who turn into vile, passive and sometimes full-on aggressive bullies when they've had too much to drink. When I was single, I vowed never to get in a relationship with someone who couldn't handle their booze or who turned into a nightmare after a few too many.
Well, after 14 bottomless Bloody Marys for him and 14 bottomless Mojitos for me, we were still giggling, chatting and getting to know each other as if we hadn't downed half of the bar's supplies.
At Asia De Cuba, they have a Bloody Mary bar where you can create your own concoctions. Another lesson learned? He likes his spicy and I HATE watery tomato gunk. No thanks.
Here we enjoyed a starter platter of Asian and Cuban fusion treats like shrimp churros and black bean empanadas. Then, whilst we discussed the couple next to us who had an age gap of at least 150 years, our mains of Cuban Eggs Benedict and Mojo Confit Duck arrived.
We then talked about how much we both love food but currently felt sick at the sight of it due to being so stuffed. Four more mojitos later and we managed a round of Mexican Churros though, so swings and roundabouts.
Fast Forward a few weeks later. We've been on trips away, met friends and sisters and know each other pretty well. But how well do you ever really know someone? Especially only after a few months. This is a good time to get to the juicy subjects and where better than Roast in Borough Market?
Woah, big topic for a Tuesday night dinner right? And it wasn't a serious, 'Here's my Secret Pinterest Board - when can we book it?' type chat. More of a 'let's share our views on this institution' type chat. Which was great to see where we both stood. As you get older and enter relationships, there can be lots of deal breakers and it's good to get to the deep subjects to make sure you're both on the same page because if you're not, you could be wasting your time.
For me, marriage is a scary prospect seeing as I've never been around a good one. I'm also not in any way religious so don't see the point of it from that aspect. Furthermore, I've always wondered what it ACTUALLY means. So to discuss these fears and observations with someone I'm getting closer to felt freeing.
Work and Aspirations
One thing that attracted me to Ben when I met him, and one thing I love about him now, is how dedicated he is to his work. He is as ambitious and hard-working as I am with my aspirations and I've learned that we are similar in the things we want to achieve in our respective fields.
Early on in relationships, careers and future dreams are a big sticking point. I believe you should be with someone who has the same attitude that you do. If you're ambitious and want to work hard and spend time developing you're career - can you get on with someone that is happy to settle and be content (plod)? Likewise, if you're someone who has everything you want and doesn't feel the need to put everything into their work - can you understand someone who always seems to have their work brain on?
Luckily, with us, Ben gets that I'm grafting with my blog every day and hopefully likes that as much as I like that he's pushing his career too.
As ever, with a gannet like me, the food is going to be the main topic of discussion. And if you're at Roast, then there's a lot to discuss. For starters, I had the Charcoal Cheese Souffle which was drowning in alllll the melted cheese.
For my main, I had the Roast burger which was packed with beefy, cheesy and veggie goodness. Anyone that knows me, knows that I'm always operating at around 87% roast potato and the ones here did not disappoint. Perfectly crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Possibly a metaphor for me.
For dessert, we finished our conversations about how my cold has been hanging around for a very long time, what our plans were for the rest of the week, where we would go on our next holiday and which 6432 things we want from ASOS whilst munching on this GLORIOUS lemon meringue pie with blackcurrant sorbet.
So there we go. All of the things my boyfriend and I have discussed, at length over 2 gorgeous meals. Well I say allll of the things, I've forgotten - the couple rowing next to us, the Maitre D's excellent accent, Brian Badonde, UFO conspiracies and how many bonks we could get in before bed time.
Dinner conversation is always the best.