24 July 2014

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Inside London's most romantic restaurant


Clos_Maggiore_2.jpgClos Maggiore has been voted London’s most romantic restaurant time after time. This Valentine’s Day, we talk to general manager Ludovic Solmi and executive chef Marcellin Marc to find out what makes a restaurant so romantic that it gets an average of three proposals a week.

The setting

‘We have an open fire, dark-wood panelling and a skylight so that you can see the stars; it’s a very special place. But that's not all. Spacing is important. The restaurant is reasonably tightly packed which makes it cosy and gives it a buzz, but we still make sure we have well-spaced tables so that couples can have some intimacy without sharing dinner with the table next to them.’ Ludovic

The service

‘The approach we aim for is giving the same level of service you would expect in five-star hotels or Michelin-starred restaurants, but just a little bit more laid back. It’s very important that we’re friendly. Nothing is too much effort; if a guest doesn’t like the garnish that goes with a dish we will talk to the chef and get it changed for them. Before you start the service, it’s a bit like the theatre; you get ready, you get dressed up and then you go on stage and you’re in the role.’ Ludovic

‘In some high-end restaurants, it can seem like customers are paying a lot of money to be bothered at the table. We try and minimise this by making sure the needs of the customer have been seen to before they actually realise they need it.’ Marcellin

‘The trick is to know that fine line between being friendly and attentive, and being at a table too much. It’s also about reading the customers. If we can tell they want to talk, we talk to them more; if it looks like they would rather be left alone then that is what we do.’ Ludovic

The food

‘Romance is about creating something special and luxurious. Our menu includes lobster, foie gras, caviar, truffles, smoked salmon, langoustine, scallops and wagyu beef. We’ve included all of the most luxurious ingredients we could think of.’ Marcellin

‘We don’t make puddings in a heart shape or use obvious "aphrodisiac" ingredients on Valentine’s Day as that’s a bit too obvious. We are happy to leave that sort of thing to other places and we just do what we know well and make it that little bit more indulgent.’ Marcellin

The proposals

‘We get about three proposals a week on average. You get the future husband who is very stressed on the phone, and they ask what you can do with the ring, so in a way you are part of their proposal as well. We have to reassure a lot of men who are nervous and let them know that everything is under control. But I haven’t heard about anyone saying "no" so far.‘ Ludovic

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