London is one of the world’s largest financial and business hubs. Every day, swathes of London’s nine million workers (not to mention visitors to the city) sit down for an important meeting in the capital.
But if you’re really looking to impress and close that deal, where should you take them? Read on to find out where to find some of London’s best kept secrets and to glean some invaluable tips on how to mix a business meeting with mealtimes…
Best business breakfasts
The Guardian newspaper has declared that ‘the business lunch is dead’, and is quickly being replaced by the business breakfast.
The attractions of the business breakfast are clear to see: you get your important business out of the way early in the day so you have the rest of the day free, you’re fresher in the morning and business breakfasts tend to drag on less. There is the added bonus of not having to worry about how much alcohol to drink as well, as most people stick to tea or coffee.
Here are some of London’s best breakfast eateries, if you’re not having breakfast at your hotel:
- For a guilt-free start to the day, the Kopapa eatery on Monmouth Street serves lighter options like exotic fruit and smoked salmon on sourdough.
- Hix in the trendy Soho area is best known for meaty grills, but its build-your-own breakfast with all the classics are given an indulgent treatment.
The business lunch
The business lunch is a tried and tested format, and is perfect for a short catch-up during the day which doesn’t eat into your precious at-home time.
But forget soggy sandwiches in a meeting room at the office: if you are trying to impress, these London lunch spots are your best bet:
- London has such a fantastic skyline, and you can breathe in some if the best city views while having a meal at the Brassiere Restaurant at The Tower Hotel. Service is attentive but not disruptive and the menu is wide-ranging enough to please most palettes.
- The W1 Restaurant at the Cumberland Hotel is run by Michelin star and AA Rosette winning chef Paul Welburn and is one of the most elegant places you could hold a business meeting. The set lunch is a feast of seasonal, expertly prepared British dishes with a European influence which you’ll enjoy in plush interiors designed by Kelly Hoppen.
- The Michelin-starred Club Gascon’s tables are spaced sufficiently far apart for you to have a private conversation, and the French menu is full of culinary delights, but with prices that won’t break the bank if you’re picking up the bill.
- The Ivy has been a business lunch favourite in London for two decades and attracts some of London’s most influential celebrities and business personalities, so you’ll be in good company.
A business dinner is called for when you want to push the boat out a little to thank a particularly loyal client or get somebody’s attention for the full evening, so it’s important to
pay attention to the setting.
- If you want to show that you’re on the ball when it comes to technology, take them to Asian fusion restaurant Inamo, where you will place your orders via the interactive, digital ordering systems on the table. The virtual tablecloths, which allow you to find out more about the area and even book a taxi, are a great talking point if the conversation turns from work to play.
- If you’re entertaining, take them to themed restaurant Circus, where your dinner will be livened up by acrobats and circus performers.
Business dining survival tips
Wining and dining a client or prospective employer is a fine art, so make sure you get it right (and avoid any disastrous gaffes) by bearing these tips in mind:
- Order sensibly. Try to avoid eating anything that requires too much attention (like a whole fish) or things that are difficult to eat elegantly (like lobster, as delicious as it is).
- Not talking about business until dessert is served is a rule many swear by if they want to build a rapport with their dining companion.
- If you are choosing the venue, it is a good chance to show off your knowledge of food and wine. It’s best to pick somewhere you’ve been before so you can recommend something if they ask.
- Though many people leave their napkins to the left of their plate when they get up, Nina Zagat, co-founder of the Zagat Survey restaurant guides, always places her napkin on her chair so her fellow diners can’t see any unsightly food stains.
- If you’re a guest, look to your host to set the tone: if they order a starter and a glass of wine, feel free to join them
- But if you’re the host, allow your guest to order first so they can choose what they like.
- Cut your food up into tiny bite-size chunks. That way, you avoid those dreaded pauses as you finish chewing to answer a question.
- If possible, have a look at the menu beforehand to pick out what you might have and look up the pronunciation if need be. We’ve known people swatting up on the wine list to appear knowledgeable come dinner time as well.
Where do you go for a business meal in London? How you impress your diners? Please let us know by leaving a comment for us below.