Some of us spend lots of time in it. Some of us spend next to no time in it. What is certain though, is that we’ve all been in the doghouse. It might be with your mum, it might be with your husband, it might be with your dog. It doesn’t matter who it’s with, because it’s always your fault. What’s also certain though is the best way to win someone back is with food and booze. So next time you’ve messed up, accepted it (sort of), and need to get back in the good books, follow our restaurant guide below.
Because anniversary. What anniversary?
You’ve risen and fallen from bed like a tranquillised whale. Your partner is suspiciously chirpy this morning. Disconcertingly so. There’s enthusiasm and questions and wide eyes. Why would you know what you’re both doing later? Nothing, you hope. Spag bol and a couple of episodes of The Sopranos, you suggest. Wrong answer pal. Fast forward five hours and you are in the midst of an intense relationship ghosting session. There’s only one thing for it: The River Cafe. Of course you didn’t forget. It. Was. All. A. Joke. Ha. Ha. Ha. (Jokes cost, pal).
Make up meal: A crispy pizzetta to break the ice, a bowl of pasta to soften the mood, and some chocolate nemesis to sweeten things up again.
Because you got a cab to the airport a day early.
We’ve all been there. There being on holiday. Only you’ve decided you want to be there even earlier. So you’ve turned up to Gatwick the day before. Better safe than sorry, right? Needless to say spirits have been tested and a giant bag of M&Ms won’t fix this. Good work. Head to Cora Pearl to bid farewell to Britain (again) alongside some spruced up classics and a cocktail or two. Just make sure you wake up, you’ve got a flight to catch.
Make up meal: Just like at the airport: ham and cheese toastie, chips, milk and cookies.
Because you did the stupid thing you accused them of.
Where’ve you put that letter from the landlord? Can’t believe you’ve lost it. You lose everything. Absolutely everything. Honestly, you’re like a senile goldfish. Even if you got bloody Dory stoned she’d have a better chance at not losing things than you. Nightmare. At that exact moment, you find the very important letter in your - yes, your - bag. Fuck. Run, do not walk, to your phone and book a meal at Peckham’s Levan. This casual all-day wine bar has the kind of seriously excellent small plates, and the kind of relaxed, stress-free feel that will hopefully keep your flatmate’s dagger eyes at bay.
Make up meal:Hello wine list. Then comté fries, some ham, the celeriac ravioli, more natural wine, apple tarte tartin, more wine. Sorted.
Because you offended their new look. Badly.
Oh definitely don’t go for that hair style again. It’s finally grown out. To be honest, you looked like the third member of Jedward for months. Silence. What do you mean you went to the hairdressers this morning? Okay, before you start babbling down the phone about how ‘Jed Ward’ is German for ‘good hair’, book dinner at Frenchie. This shiny modern brasserie in Covent Garden has excellent seasonal food and enough warm dome lighting and velvet to make you feel really, stupidly good looking. This place can be expensive but your only other option was to get a matching haircut as a show of solidarity, so really you’ve got off lightly. Especially if you get involved in the £32 three-course set menu.
Make up meal:One round of bacon and maple syrup scones, the goat’s cheese manicotti, and if they’re still petting at their hair like it might run away - another round of bacon and maple syrup scones.
Because you went for ‘a couple’ of drinks after work.
7:32pm: “I’m just gonna have a quick drink with work people because Flora/Tim/the guy from Tesco on the corner is leaving, so I’ll give you a call in a bit and we’ll get dinner”. 10:52pm: “Sorrrrry my pjhone died, am gona head back way now whjat do u fancy to eat?? Xzz”. 2:27am: “WHy aren’t youu picking ipppp????”. 1:01pm: “Sorry about last night. Got a bit out of hand. Very annoying I know. I’ve booked The Palomar for dinner tonight. It’s meant to be very nice. Sharing plates thing. Give me a call when you can, x”.
Make up meal: Shakshukit (to get you out of it), octo-hummus, malabi.
Because you accidentally flirted with your partner’s sibling.
So you’re out for dinner with your prospective family for the first time. It’s going great. The wine is a-flowing and you know what, you’re really getting on with your brother/sister-in-law. Getting on a little too well for somebody’s liking. You never laugh like that usually. Stop. Don’t say anything about the family genes. Write off tonight and book Brawn for lunch tomorrow. A walk down Columbia Road, some choice bits of nature, and a few oysters should mean everybody’s smiling by the early afternoon.
Make up meal: Anchovies in rosemary oil, oysters, panna cotta.
Because you tried to be polite but you were very impolite.
So you said you loved spicy food to the in-laws when you know you’re not so good with it. Big deal. You tried a bit of everything because you wanted to show that you’re easygoing, open-minded. Interesting tactic. You were uncontrollably sweating, unable to speak for 80% of the evening and your mother-in-law wanted to call the emergency services. Smooth. Honesty isn’t always the best policy with extended family (see politics and Christmas rituals) but with chilli it is. You need to take them all somewhere classic and inoffensive to make up for it, an all-rounder. Basically everything you’re not. Bocca Di Lupo should do the trick, and there isn’t a chilli in sight.
Make up meal: Truffled radish salad, nduja orecchiette, fake laughter.
Because you lost the dog.
You’re in the pub, meeting your sister’s dog for the first time. The surrogate child. It is adored. You wonder how your future niece or nephew will take to being second best, especially to something that rolls about it in its own filth. You suspect babies also do this. You suspect you did this. “WHERE’S THE DOG?!”. You were meant to be watching it. You were thinking about poo. “YOU IDIOT!!!”. You look around but the fourth pint has entered your blood stream. “It’s probably just outside” you say. Your sister sprints outside. You drop the menu on the floor. The dog is in the corner, under the table. It’s chewing its own foot. You gain some composure. You’re on Exmouth Market. The Eagle is two minutes away. It has THAT steak sandwich. You make the call.
Make up meal: A bottle of wine, three steak sandwiches
Because you missed your niece/nephew’s birthday party.
It’s the morning of your nephew’s first birthday party. You knew he was coming. The dog was a classic tell. Classic. You wake up and turn on your phone. Lots of texts. Lots and lots of texts. Bad texts. Mum. Dad. Mum and Dad group. Sister. Sister, Mum and Dad group. Oh no, oh no oh no oh no. It was lunch! It was Sunday lunch? It was Sunday brunch. Who in their right mind has a party for an illiterate blob at 10am on a Sunday? Right. It’s 1pm. Where is child friendly, reliable but also impressive enough to claw you out of this mess? You need something magical and, possibly, some divine intervention. You order one of those massive rainbow cakes. Magical. You book dinner at St John Bar and Restaurant for a few hours time. Divine.
Make up meal: Your own bone marrow, a doughnut for the blob.
Because you bought the worst birthday present ever.
They said they wanted a hairdryer for their birthday, so you got them a hairdryer for their birthday. You moron. Don’t worry, all is not lost. You just need to think on your feet. Book a table at Salon and suddenly your underwhelming gift becomes part of a bigger, smarter theme. Not only can you ride out your awful, awful gift, you can take them for an inventive and interesting dinner in Brixton. Clever you! Now to pretend you’ve booked tickets for the Edinburgh Fringe…
Make up meal: House made breads, nduja croquettes, a cocktail or two.
Because you thought a ten hour drive was good for bonding.
The country getaway. Ooh a cottage in Wales! So remote! So quaint! Shall we drive? Of course! Two wrong turns and a pathetic attempt to blame a talking screen later, your weekend getaway is ruined. RIP your relationship. Or is it? You’re gonna need a sweetener to come home to following round two on Sunday afternoon. Good thing you’re heading towards Rochelle Canteen and Bar at the ICA. Where better to dispel any anger than in an art gallery? You’re literally not allowed to shout. Besides, you won’t want to shout once you’ve got a pie and a glass of pinot noir in front of you. Abandon the car for a few hours and settle down for a long, lazy and lush lunch (or dinner).
Make up meal: Anything and everything (the menu changes daily).
Because you thought a walk in winter would be nice.
There’s nothing like a fresh walk on Hampstead Heath on a brisk winter’s day is there? The cold air stinging your eyes, your arms linking, a single rain drop that you laugh off as ‘dew in the air’. Ha ha ha, how lovely. And then, suddenly, before you’ve finished your nervous laughter, it’s pissing down with reckless abandon and your beloved other is taking cover under a large oak tree. The rain is cool, refreshing and smooth versus the hot, piercing stare radiating from under said tree. They wanted Netflix, you wanted a walk. You are fu*ked. Don’t worry. Make a dash to The Bull and Last - a proper pub that serves superb food and is on the edge of the Heath. Things might turn out alright, especially if you get a table next to the fire and order a lot of triple cooked chips.
Make up meal: A pint or three, triple cooked chips, sticky toffee pudding.
Because you went on a nostalgic uni sesh.
University reunions are never really a good idea. But did you think it would be this bad an idea? Probably not. Was it worth it? Of course it was worth it. But you cannot let that be known. You are in mourning. Mourning for yourself. Mourning for your better half. You will not smile for at least 15 hours. Or until they smile. Good thing you’re taking them to Bob Bob Ricard. Face it, you’re not gonna get back in the good books without a ‘press for champagne’ button, so this is the place to come to when you need to get a smile, and fast.
Make up meal: Champagne, caviar, press for more champagne.