Le Restaurant de PAUL, Liverpool Street
Slap bang in the middle of the Square Mile and located at the base of one of London’s iconic skyscrapers, Tower 42, Le Restaurant de PAUL would be a difficult scene to stage a clandestine date away from the beady eyes of passing colleagues. But there’s definitely potential here for sparking an office romance at the Christmas party. Open all day, the restaurant opens weekdays from early morning until late night for your lunchtime power meeting, sophistiqué supper, champagne soirée…or morning-after breakfast on your way back to the trading floor.
Gourmet burgers supplied by the Queen’s very own butcher are going to be snapped up quickly here by the modern city slicker. With so much choice, it’s surprisingly difficult to find an eatery that genuinely balances contemporary and traditional, but Le Restaurant de PAUL is a strong contender. Go for the leisurely and quintessential Coq au Vin (many of PAUL’s dishes are inspired by family recipes) or opt for some sharing platters to include slithers from the charcuterie, artisan French cheese and freshly baked bread from the in-house boulangerie.
Dessert is a must and you can’t get much more indulgent than the silky and rich, bottomless Mousse au Chocolat (if you’ve tried PAUL’s famous hot chocolate, you’ll understand – this place doesn’t go in half-heartedly with chocolate) or the tradition I’m rather partial to, the Île Flottante. As for tipples, the destination wine bar is a perfect respite from the daily grind, with an impressive list of bubbles, as well as regional French red, white and rosé wines. If you’re feeling flirty, try a house cocktail – the L’Avion Bleu and Negroni Lavande (lavender Negroni) are personal faves.
A casual post-work beverage can quickly turn into more and after a few more glasses (all going well) you’ll be sharing a platter and ordering a taxi home before you and your date come back for breakfast the next day. Just make sure you get a table far from the potential glare of outside voyeurs.
For the traditionalist, end with a peck on the cheek and book a bread making masterclass at the in-house boulangerie for Date #2.
While an easy option for post-work liaisons, the design could do more to help Cupid with a few more secret nooks and darkened corners.
3. Points gained for the Negroni Lavande; points lost for the glass facade – no secret frolics here.