Sometimes panic is the right response. If you haven’t yet landed a table for a week today – and your beloved isn’t going to be impressed – it is most definitely time to get on the blower.
One place you needn’t call however (they booked up pretty much immediately when the list for the 14th opened a month ago) is Pimlico’s Poule au Pot – famously London’s Most Romantic Restaurant. (That’s not just urban legend, by the way, but also the overwhelming verdict of reporters in our annual survey, ever year for almost a decade.)
So what does the dark allure of this 40 year-old Pimlico veteran tell us about what people want on a night when romance is in the air? It pleases today’s punters simply by offering them much the same formula as their parents might have enjoyed a generation before. Decked out as a French farmhouse – complete with guttering candles and old-fashioned plates – it is a real restaurant institution in a city where such things are surprisingly rare (and getting rarer).
That does not mean that its cooking is in any way remarkable. But the great thing about the Poule au Pot is that you know precisely what you’re likely to get: cuisine grand-mère, fractionally poshed up for the SW classes; and realised to a standard that is unlikely to be anything less than competent.
You also know what sort of service you’re likely to get: truly French, with a healthy dose of insouciance, leavened with a good sprinkling of joie de vivre. In an effort to offer practical advice for 2007, we rang to enquire if they would be running the same booking system next time round. ‘We may’, said a spokeman – a piece of information that came complete with a magnificent Gallic shrug, rippling through the ether.