Where To Take Your Friend Who's Going Through A Break-UpWhichever stage of the break-up they’re in—whether that’s denial or their hot girl summer era—these are the restaurants to book.
Break-ups are hard. But organising a fun dinner with your friend who gets triggered by a bottle of ketchup because “their favourite colour was red” is even harder. Everybody talks about the heartbroken, but we want to take a moment for the friends of the heartbroken. We see you and we’re here to make your life easier. Whether it’s only been one week and three Taylor Swift albums later, or they’re finally at that point when they can see strangers holding hands without going into an angry rage, here are the best spots to take your friend who is going through it.
Comfort. That’s what your friend needs after finding out their ex has moved on with that extremely attractive model you had to say was a 4/10 while keeping a straight face. Come to Normah’s, a cosy Malaysian spot in Queensway. You’ll find all the emergency pick-me-up dishes here, from hearty curry laksa, to rich beef rendang, and flaky roti that’s even sexier than their ex’s new beau. And the cherry on top? If head chef and all-round wholesome human being Normah comes out of the kitchen to say hello, like she often does, it might distract your friend for long enough that you can eat a crispy chicken wing without having to re-read the ‘good riddance’ message they drafted for the millionth time.
You can’t go back in time and stop your friend from sitting on that patch of grass in Primrose Hill where she first met her wretched ex. But you can book a table at this bar in Soho and pretend like he never existed altogether—at least not in this lifetime. Inside a jazzed-up abandoned tube carriage, Cahoots is a 1940s, D-day celebrations themed bar with a live swing band and a long list of excellent cocktails. It can be a little corny and a bit of a sensory overload, but you’re guaranteed a whole lot of fun until the early hours.
You can love a Philly cheesesteak. You can’t love someone whose opening line on Tinder was calling you “bang tidy”. Your friend needs to be reminded of that. Fitzrovia’s Passyunk Avenue is loud and busy, perfect for when you need to go incognito as you cry/carb-load. The Philly cheesesteaks are stuffed to the brim—like the metaphorical baggage your friend’s ex was carrying, and the literal baggage they packed last night—and oozing with cheese, also not unlike the ex. It’s the kind of place where doughy, cheesy tears go unnoticed and shots of bourbon at 12pm are actively encouraged.
Your friend sent you a voice note at 2am. They’d just performed a moving (for them) rendition of Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You outside their ex’s bedroom window. Things are desperate. The restraining order is pending. Only carbs and a mother’s love can fix this now. Enter La Mia Mamma, a troupe of female chefs, known as the mammas, who cook a menu of regional Italian food. We defy the cacio e pepe at the Chelsea spot not to fix broken hearts. That and the motherly overfeeding, spontaneous serenading, and second bottle of wine you’ve polished off.
Are they going to get back together next week or are you allowed to admit how insufferable everyone found them as a couple? Hard to tell. But seeing as your friend is struggling to make a (very easy) decision regarding their love life, take them to Andu Cafe. At this Ethiopian spot in Dalston, the sampler platter is the only thing on the menu and the only decision that needs to be made is whether it’s for one or two. Either way, you’ll be eating more-ish spiced yesimir wot (lentil stew), crunchy gomen (greens), and a load of other bits to be mopped up with perfectly tart injera or rice. And hopefully the decisiveness will inspire them to end it for good.
Therapy is expensive. Park Chinois is also expensive. But Park Chinois also has acrobats and a delightful peking duck. It’s an easy choice really. This Chinese clubstaurant in Berkeley Square is a Lynchian meets Butlin’s fever dream. It’s all red velvet, gold accents, and crooning live jazz on stage. While it’s by no means a top-quality culinary experience, that’s not always what you need in the midst of a break-up. You need distractions, you need black truffle dumplings, and you need absolutely no one to ask if you are OK. So even though the atmosphere here is less Frank Sinatra and more Frankie & Benny’s, we have a feeling that this is exactly what a £120 an hour therapist would have prescribed. Well probably not, but that’s OK.
When it’s been precisely 72 hours since your mate was dumped by their life partner of three months—you go to Circolo Popolare in Fitzrovia. Where better to officially start mingling than an Italian restaurant that looks like fake Sicily, where you can make eyes at a wannabe Dolce & Gabbana model while forking carbonara out of a pecorino wheel. By the time you order the stiff-peaked meringue for dessert, your friend won’t even remember their ex’s name. Mainly because they went full Lady and the Tramp with someone on the neighbouring table after mainlining raspberry shrub cocktails out of a boob-shaped jug.
Your friend’s ex had all the charisma of a Maroon 5 song. And taking them to a restaurant that packs a scotch bonnet slap will bring them to their senses. Chuku’s is a small Nigerian restaurant in Tottenham that creates loud and proud, unforgettable flavours. There are cheerful pink walls that soothe you, sweeter-than-they-ever-were caramel kuli kuli chicken, and a beef ayamase that actually deserves your tears. When setting up a new dating profile just describe Chuku’s: salty, spicy, and sweet.