Maître d’s obliged to play cupid warn that there are a surprising number of pitfalls when proposing at a restaurant. Swallowing the ring in the crème brûlée is a classic, and a surprising number of proposals are turned down, they tell Gourmet. Their best advice? Keep the ring away from the food. At Babbo they serve it under a cloche. The Little Door, in Los Angeles, offers a dessert plate with a trapdoor for the ring.
But management also has to cope with naughty behavior—groping couples that have to be shamed (“now, kids”) into saving it for later—and even divorce proposals where tempers flare. While restaurants see lots of action on Valentine's day, February 13 is apparently also a busy night for romance. "Men bring their mistresses then, so they can bring their wives on Valentine’s Day," said Julian Niccolini of the Four Seasons.