Valentine’s Day – we were thinking about snubbing it, because from a restaurant and food point of view it’s normally offensively disappointing (and also because I don’t have a date)!

Typically menu choices are reduced and yet the creativity of dishes are diluted to suit the masses and even the ambience of the most buzzing restaurant falls short, with too many tables for two and awkward faux romantic moments a plenty. So this article is not really about where to go and how to apply romance but quite an amusing look at things from a restauranteur’s point of view. Here, an established London restaurant General Manager slightly over shares his tips for getting through a Valentine’s day service, relatively unscathed – but clearly a little jaded!

Fabien Babanini at Shoreditch’s forever chic and sense stimulating Les Trois Garcons, divulges his list on Feb 14th’s, do’s and don’t. He should know thing or two from his 25-year career; working front of house in Michelin-Starred restaurants in France then London…plus he is French after all!

Fabien Babanini’s Valentine’s Dos & Don’ts

For maître ds

– Do cross check the names of all bookings to ensure you do not have a man dining next to his ex-wife and her toy-boy.

– Do be discreet about the number of times a customer has dined with you with different partners.

– Do not allow your handsome waiters or pretty waitresses to give the impression of flirting with the clients, I have seen a number of customers explode in a jealous rage over the years and it is not something you want happening in your restaurant.

– Do be prepared for at least one proposal on the night – I have never seen a Valentine’s Day come and go without one, in all my 25 years working front of house.

– In the event of a proposal, do not agree to hide the ring in one of the dishes. I have seen this go wrong too many times; I have seen a woman passing on the dessert while the man was trying to encourage her to eat it and getting upset about it. The old trick of placing the ring box in the napkin when she leaves the table during the meal (and they always do) is the best.

For couples

– Do avoid taking your chosen partner for the evening to dine at a restaurant you took another love interest to the week before or even the same day for lunch (True story).

– Do keep any displays of public affection above the table; it is not attractive for other guests to witness anything more than this.

– Do be chivalrous – your loved one will still appreciate some good old fashioned manners; open the door for them, stand up when they go to the bathroom etc. It’s the little things that make a big difference and I am seeing less and less attention to these important details from many men .

– Do prepare some exciting topics of conversation before your evening out. There is nothing worse than watching a couple silently work their way through a meal.

– Do relax and enjoy a drink but pace yourself if you want to be able to perform at the end of the night.

– Do make sure you pre-order a taxi, there is nothing like waiting around for your ride home to turn up to kill the romance.



Head Chef (since 2010) Michael Chan has created a special menu for the occasion, described as ‘Lover’s Bites’.

Les Trois Garcons will be serving a five course set menu at the cost of £69.00 per head, on February 14th, featuring dishes such as ‘Seared Scallops on a bed of Jerusalem Artichoke’ and ‘Champagne Parfait with Raspberries’.

I however, on Valentine’s day, will be at home or in the office, planning other people’s’ fun…!

Lauren Wyllie

Founder, Editor and CEO (Chief Eating Officer)

Delicious London/ The Oracle of Edible Entertaining and Events/ Tel: 07432 668 555

Les Trois Garcons/ 1 Club RowLondon E1 6JX / Tel: 020 7613 1924

For up to date info and inspiration for entertaining at home or out and about in the city, follow us on twitter@deliciouslondon

If you need a little assistance planning your events, eats and entertaining, email lauren@deliciouslondon.co.uk

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