Unlike most reality shows, the setting for Channel 4’s First Dates is the real deal. The realm for romance is Paternoster Chop House, a restaurant in the City.
You’ll find it at 1 Warwick Court, Paternoster Square, within stumbling distance of St Paul’s Cathedral. What you won’t find is any bragging about First Dates on its website. The Paternoster is far too sophisticated for that.
A First Dater isn’t impressed with the menu
It probably isn’t the best place to take the veggie in your life. A “chop house” means all the meat is bought on the bone and butchered by the chefs, who waste as little as possible. So as well as steak, you’ll find bone marrow, pork scratchings and ham hock terrine on the menu.
Starters will set you back between £7 and £13, while mains come in between £17 and £30. The cocktails that slip down so easily on First Dates are around £10 (in fact the only mention of the show is a cheeky aperitif called First Date: lemon liquor, Southern Comfort, cranberry, lychee and fig.)
In other words, it’s only for daters with deep pockets – unless you want to show off your prudent side by opting for the set menu, which is £23.50 for two courses or £27.50 for three courses. There’s also a Saturday brunch menu with bottomless bubbles if you order two courses per person.
As well as the open-plan restaurant that is so perfect for eavesdropping, and the bar for those who prefer to drink their dinner, it has a heated terrace with a view of St Paul’s Cathedral.
Be sure to book in advance or you might find yourself on TV. When we attempted to reserve, there were no tables available because the restaurant was closed for a week to shoot more episodes of First Dates.
Fred Sirieux usually works in Mayfair
The bad news is that everyone’s favourite love guru – Fred the maître d’ – doesn’t really work there. When he’s not melting our hearts with his wise words, Fred is general manager at Galvin at Windows, a Michelin-starred restaurant at the Park Lane Hilton in Mayfair.
Galvin serves modern French haute cuisine and is pricier than the Paternoster. If you really want to impress, opt for the seven-course menu degustation, which costs £169 when paired with wine or £199 with champers. The restaurant is on the 28th floor so the panoramic views across London are pretty special, too.
But don’t go to Galvin’s in the hope of catching the eye of a certain bearded Frenchman. Oui, bad news: Fred’s already taken. He and his partner have two children and live in Peckham.