THE THREE PAGES OF MAN. PART II. Dating.
I can't just be me who feels like the summer sun brings all the great-looking people onto the streets. They were probably around all the rest of the year as well, but hot days make for better clothes, glowing skin and a happy demeanor - all adding to their gorgeousness. And, when two gorgeous people get together, it only makes sense that they should do it somewhere rather fabulous too. So, here's the Camilla's Store guide to some of London's best date restaurants.
THE FIRST DATE
Ping Pong, now with dim sum restaurants dotted all over London from Great Marlborough Street to Hampstead, is fantastic. It's buzzy, cool, well-priced, and full of other hot young things doing their thing. Like Wagamama, much of the seating is communal or - in the case of their Soho branch - rings round the edge of the mezzanine, meaning you sit next to each other. The whole ordering process - done by ticking a list - makes a great ice breaker and the slight foreignness means that you can always talk about deep fried tofu if things start to go sour.
THE SECOND DATE
It's time to find out whether it's gonna be 'just friends' or 'happily ever after', so how apt to go Fish! in Borough Market. If you're there for dinner, the slight eeriness of the closed market makes a perfect opportunity for a spot of light hand holding. Success or failure during this bold step can be almost instantly relieved from intensity by the upbeat atmosphere of the restaurant which also allows you to play things either way. If it's looking bleak you can discuss the future of London's markets over a lemon sole, but if all's well you can share oysters and a glass of bubbly.
CLOSING THE DEAL
If you're gonna put the moves on a girl, do it at Julie's Wine Bar. Julie's is classic, classy and very discreet. Book ahead and you can get your own curtained booth, or be softly romantic with a table in the conservatory which is lit with fairy lights. Expensive enough both to make her feel special and to let her know you're serious.
THE MORNING AFTER
The father of a friend of mine once wistfully commented, "I no longer have the need for a full english in the morning", so while we are still young, it's well worth girding your loins for a hearty breakfast to make up for all the other shenanigans your loins have been involved in the previous night. Providores on Marylebone High Street does a smashing breakfast with a french toast that beats them all. Its location - with Regent's Park at the top, and Oxford Street at the bottom - makes 'going your seperate ways' a lot easier to handle.
She's clingy, she hates your friends and you did the dirty with hers - it's time to move on and you have two exit strategies. No.1: If your risk assessment of the break-up conversation suggests you're going to require some serious damage control, pick a place that's crowded, noisy and that you don't mind never going to again - this puts you ahead of the game when the screaming starts. The Sanderson Long Bar has the anonymity of an international hotel, the bullish crowds of Fitzrovia and hard liquor on tap.
Alternatively, plump for option No.2: This option is expensive but just look at it as a pay-off to get you out of a sticky situation. Book a corner table at Simpsons, silently chop your way through the meat trolly then, as the sticky toffee pudding arrives, deliver your missive. With a hushed voice insist that there does not have to be a 'vulgar scene'. You will not be popular, but the Simpson doormen will be the epitome of charm and ensure she is safely escorted into a taxi home. Well-handled!