How to eat for free in top-end restaurants

At first they were like any other wealthy young couple. They arrived at the restaurant L Autre Pied in Marylebone area in London to dine at the table who had checked. Nobody in the restaurant with two Michelin stars could anticipate that a nice couple would take advantage of the distraction of employees to get away without paying the bill.

Earlier this month, L’Autre Pied in Marylebone fell victim to the fraudsters, who dined at the Michelin-starred restaurant, ordering two bottles of Champagne and food, racking up a bill of nearly €700. Before eating their desserts, the pair asked for their coats to go outside for a cigarette but never returned. The couple had booked the table using fake contact details and under the name of Lupin, which echoes that of Arsène Lupin – a fictional French gentleman thief.

David Moore, owner of L’Autre Pied and sister restaurant Pied à Terre, said the pair were out to “rip us off from the start”.

“At first I thought it was a spur of the moment thing and told the restaurant staff not to worry,” he said.

“But then I saw the bill and realised that they’d used a fake phone number to make the booking. I was furious.”

Leonora Popaj, the restaurant manager, said that in “two decades had never seen such an incident” and confirms that the couple was above all suspicion and, according to what is normal in that restaurant, had not spent much.

The Metropolitan police has now confirmed that it has arrested a couple on suspicion of fraud after they attempted to leave another London restaurant without paying last night.

“A 27-year-old man was arrested last night on suspicion of fraud and a woman in her late 20s was arrested at her home in London N11 later on,” a spokesman for the Metropolitan police told Caterer.

“They are both currently being questioned. The arrest took place after a central London restaurant contacted police after the diners attempted to leave without paying.”

It has now emerged that other top-end London restaurants have also been hit by the couple, including the Michelin-starred Glasshouse in Kew, west London. A spokeswoman for the restaurant confirmed that the pair had done “exactly the same” as at L’Autre Pied, ordering expensive bottles of Champagne before going out for a cigarette and running off.

Pearl restaurant at the five-star Renaissance Chancery Court hotel in the City has also been targeted. “They were here,” confirmed a spokeswoman for the property. “We are speaking to the police and an investigation is going on.”