The Awkward Dinner Guide
Some dinners in life are going to be awkward. We’re here to help.
We all have those meals we look forward to. But for every meal that you hope never ends, there are at least two that you wish would never happen. It’s an unavoidable part of life: sometimes you have to deal with weird groupings of people in uncomfortable situations that drag on forever. And ever. It’s awkward. Very, very awkward. But there is one aspect of these meals that you can control: the restaurant. Here are seven great options for life’s most awkward meals. Stay strong out there.
LET'S GET AWKWARD
Perfect for: telling your flatmate that your co-dependent domestic bliss is over.
Nothing ties two people together quite like chanting the C word for six hours while attempting to build an Ikea skutskär. Alas, all good things must come to an end and, hehe hoho, you’ve decided to move in with your partner. Caravel is a decidedly dreamy converted barge in Islington where you can soften the blow of rental betrayal with a smoother-than-smooth chicken liver pâté, pressed lamb, and lots of wine. So much wine. It has such a charming atmosphere that when you say ‘hey, maybe you could finally fulfill your dream of living on a houseboat’, they’ll only think about flinging the remnants of the Bordeaux in your face rather than actually doing it. Perfect.
photo credit: Giulia Verdinelli
The Camberwell Arms
Perfect for: confronting your partner about their DMs.
A cursory look at their lockscreen told you the truth. It’s time to face facts and tell them everything you know—that complaining to brands via DM is pathetic behaviour and you will not be associated with anyone who cheapens themselves for free Jaffa Cakes. Naturally, though, you want to go out with a bang. Or rather with a lovely bottle and a slap-up meal. The Camberwell Arms ticks all these boxes. A classy Camberwell gastropub with plenty on tap, as well as a fine wine list, and so good it’s impossible to complain about.
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Chestnut Bakery Belgravia
Perfect for: meeting your mum’s new life partner, Jean.
After the Shakespearean tragedy that was your mum and Carl’s whirlwind romance that ended in her remortgaging the house to fund his groundbreaking shisha and craft beer business, you kind of hoped that mother dearest would lay low on the apps for a while. Instead, you’re meeting Jean and you need a cinnamon bun. And a twice-baked lemon meringue croissant. And a garlic aioli flatbread with a tear-alibi in the form of spiced merguez and chilli sauce. This casual ‘international bakery’ on Buckingham Palace Road has all of the above covered, as well as great coffee you can thoughtfully sip while Jean talks you through his impressive collection of toy trains. More cake, anyone?
Chishuru is permanently closed
Perfect for: dinner with your boring housemate and their boring parents.
Your housemate isn’t a bad person, they just don’t have a Hayu account. But what they lack in vegetative TV taste, they more than make up for with a passion for things you don’t want to do. Things like moving from the sofa or dinner with their parents. Admit defeat and suggest Chishuru in Brixton. It’s possible that the West African restaurant will thrill them so much that conversation flows and a secret family-wide love for RHOBH is spilled. If not, you can keep yourself entertained with fiery goat ayamase and other enlivening bits and bobs.
101 Thai Kitchen
Perfect for: meeting up with your ex because for some illogical reason you both thought it was a good idea.
Oh, fuck off candlelight. You’re not needed right now. No, you’re in need of a restaurant that moves quickly and has enough public witnesses to stop you from, oops, kissing them because a negroni told you to. That restaurant is 101 Thai Kitchen. A permanently popular spot in Hammersmith—an area with all the sexual prowess of a cold sore—you can be in and out of here in under an hour and everything from the comforting prawn in blankets to the creamy panang curry are excellent. Plus, the £10 crispy had yai fried chicken is worthy compensation for having to sit in front of someone who once had a pet name for your genitals.
Perfect for: meeting up with someone who doesn’t have a name in your phone.
Rockpool eyes San Miguel. Cashmere hair no lime extra tonic. Who is who? You may never know. You just have to turn up in Soho, head to Rita’s, and get yourself some mezcal. A caesar salad, fries, and a fried chicken roll should be top of your mind too. But maybe try and weave in a game of, If You Had A Restaurant Would You Name It After Yourself? Who is Rita, anyway?
Perfect for: debuting a terrible haircut.
Daylight has become the enemy. We’re aware that sounds dramatic but when you look like Cujo has used your locks as a chew toy, there is simply no limit to the amount of theatrical things you’re allowed to say. “I might go into witness protection” is one of them. “Dinner downstairs at Andrew Edmunds”, is another. An old-school Soho restaurant with a moody candlelit basement, this is a safe space for you to casually remove that bucket hat while everyone is distracted by burrata and a whole grilled dover sole. Just remember, dessert here is essential and hair grows back.