It’s easy to find a nice place to propose, but what if you’re on the outs? Arthur Savile gives his guide to the capital’s finest dumping diners.
Perched around this cavernous temple to Art Deco symmetry, your desire to ‘do this in public’ – lest the drama get out of hand – backfires spectacularly, when your other half realises that they have an audience of 200. The pianist stops, as a carafe of pinot noir hurtles along the hardwood floor, before smashing against a gilded marble pillar. Your île flottante leaves you with a sinking feeling, as you scramble through the sea of gaping diners, up the grandiloquent staircase, with its oddly cheap-looking carpet, and into the unforgiving glare of Piccadilly Circus.
You’ve been on the waiting list for six months and, although your love has long since curdled into simmering resentment, you will nonetheless struggle to find anyone else willing to stump up £400 for omakase. Alone, in a tiny shrine to dead fish, you eyeball each other over every exquisite morsel.
40 maltby street
The crew at Eater London have done you dirty. Nothing on the chalkboard looks like a real meal, and the chuntering trains above prevent all conversation. Hang on a second – they’ve dumped you!
bob bob ricard
Ensconced in a seemingly-discreet booth, where better to introduce your spouse to their younger replacement? You frantically press for a round of bubbles to soften the blow, as you shed crocodile tears over the truffle and Champagne humble pie.
the paternoster chophouse
‘Oh, the First Dates restaurant? How exciting!’ Thrilled by the prospect of flirting with Fred Sirieix, as Merlin dutifully concocts a potion from behind the bar, little does your erstwhile lover suspect that this will be the last time that you arrange to meet. Pretend that your phone died and that you arrived to find the restaurant boarded-up, without a clue about how to locate its new premises.
You simply can’t say rude things in front of someone who looks like your grandmother, let alone a room full of nonagenarians. After all, why else would you drag someone out to St John’s Wood, but for a (metaphorical) mercy killing? Your face takes on the complexion of the lobster cocktail that lies before you, as you explain that you will have to forego the delights of the dessert trolley on this occasion. The smarmy waiter weeps into the crème caramel, while you stumble over a wheelchair on your way to the exit.
The idea was to go somewhere quick and get this over and done with. Your heart sinks as you see the queue meandering around the corner, past the faded strip club and onto the main road. Stuck with an excited soon-to-be-ex, lured here on the false pretence of fluffy roti and tangy fish curry, you find yourself making frantic yet inane small talk next to an outdoor lavatory for 45 minutes.
Overlooked by the reddish carcass of an unfortunate cow, you dissect the remains of your time together. Behind you, an apronned man hacks brutally at a rack of lamb while you try to ignore the chill wind that blows down Exmouth Market. With tears in your eyes, you try your hardest to digest the beef, but you fear that it may be tartare for now.
the ivy asia
Watching your significant other indiscriminately shovel sushi and dim sum into their big ignorant gob, without so much as a slice of ginger in-between, has made this so much easier. Behind you, a hen party from Northampton live out their Tale of Genji fantasties by posing for selfies beneath a very fake blossom tree. Your eyes blinded by the green agate floor, you almost throw your card at the silk-clad waiter before staggering out of this lurid pagoda of naffness.
the german gymnasium
It was the best of times, it was the wurst of times. Much like your relationship, its pretensions of being a Mitteleuropean grand café are about as authentic as a Stuttgart tandoori. Nevertheless, the people-watching at this bourgeois Valhalla provides a welcome distraction from your erklärungsnot. You are landed with a decidedly hefty bill, by way of reparations.
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