Business lunches in London, for us, have always been appealing. They offer the chance to wine and dine clients in a comfortable setting where you know you’ll well and truly be spoiled, so you can fucus all your attention on sealing the deal.
The appeal of a good business lunch in the capital has only grown since the end of lockdown. It has now been discovered that even with Tier 2 restrictions in place, the rules can be bypassed if your meal out can be deemed as a ‘business meet’. Now, instead of being forced to eat outside when meeting people from other households, London diners are free to gather indoors should they be having a working lunch.
So, what does qualify a restaurant to earn the accolade of being somewhere for a good business lunch? Whatever your budget or taste, there are few things most of us want when we’re meeting colleagues or clients, so we’ve taken the liberty of ensuring all of the below options are ticking certain boxes. The location has to be handy to get to, because when hosting a business lunch in London there are sure to be guests coming from different areas of the city. The atmosphere must be discreet, since no doubt there will be sensitive topics to cover. And, finally, ideally there will be a please-all set menu that takes the faff out of the whole affair. When meeting to collaborate over lunch or dinner nobody wants to sacrifice the time and attention needed to make our way through a tomb, rather a satisfyingly short menu of crowd-pleasing classics is ideal so that snappy decisions and delicious plates are guaranteed.
While not essential, there is also merit in having meeting spaces at some of the best places for a business lunch in London. There are a whole host of the options below that can provide you with private dining spaces or meeting rooms, both small and large.
Frenchie Covent Garden
16 Henrietta Street, Covent Garden, WC2E 8QH
With a smart central location and discreet waiting staff, Frenchie in Covent Garden is the perfect spot for doing a bit of business over lunch. The set menu offers fabulous value for money at £29 for two courses or £32 for three and might include options such as seared Cornish cod with farotto, black garlic, wild mushrooms and a coffee sabayon or a smoked ricotta dish with roasted plums, chives and toasted brioche. For longer meets there are 5- or 7-course tasting menus, and if you’d care to book a section privately then the entire ground floor can be reserved for between 17-20 people, or the whole restaurant hired from £4000 for 60 guests.
The Cinnamon Club
The Old Westminster Library, Great Smith Street, Westminster, SW1P 3BU
Perfectly placed The Cinnamon Club finds its home in the heart of Westminster, just around the corner from The Houses of Parliament. The library setting creates a high-brow atmosphere and the fine-dining takes on Indian classics are sure to appeal to a broad set of guests. For lunch there’s a set menu which is £25 for two courses, or £30 for three, or if preferred there are tasting menus and a la carte options available both during the day and in the evening. For large business functions hire of the whole restaurant is a possibility, while there are various smaller areas like The Gallery and The Reading Room which make wonderful private spaces for groups.
85 Piccadilly, Mayfair, W1J 7NB
If you’re looking to impress a potential partner or client, taking them to a Michelin starred restaurant is never going to hurt. Hide Above by Ollie Dabbous is all about creating a memorable experience, which may well help to leave a lasting impression with your guest(s) for all the right reasons. Open for a daytime service from Thursday through to Sunday, this is a spot to book if a long lunch is in order, as staff never rush you from your table. With both a la carte and tasting menu options, there’s something for everyone, and the smart private dining spaces even come with their own personal lifts and parking spaces should you need them.
74 Charlotte Street, Bloomsbury, W1T 4QH
While the main restaurant at Mere is calm and quite – perfect for a professional repast – the private dining space is ideal if you’d like more exclusivity. The subtle space is decorated in greys and browns and can comfortably seat ten guests. Added intrigue is introduced by way of a discreet television screen which links directly to the kitchen, allowing guests to watch the chefs at work. Bespoke menus are possible, as well as expertly matched wine-pairings. Standard lunch in the main restaurant is from £29 for two courses, while the bespoke option varies according to final requirements.
The Berkeley, Wilton Place, SW1X 7RL
The range of dining options at MARCUS sets it apart from many competitors, offering a clue as to the restaurant’s complete dedication a positive guest experience. There’s an a la carte, a ‘taste’ of Marcus or a chef’s set lunch menu to pick between, with the team and kitchen here so adaptable and accommodating that most requests are easily dealt with. The Chef’s Set Lunch includes three courses for £50, and a Sommelier’s selection of wines can be added for £45. Starters include roast scallops with chestnuts and bacon while mains bring classic combinations from Marcus Wareing’s seemingly limitless portfolio, such as fish of the day with borlotti beans and sea vegetables. With both a Chef’s Table and a private dining room, there are plenty of options for more exclusive experiences too.
1 Chiltern Street, Marylebone, W1U 7PA
While the buzz may have settled a little since it opened, Chiltern Firehouse still has what it takes to set it apart as one of London’s best business lunch spots. Found just a stone’s throw from Marylebone station, the location is a contributing factor to its suitability for a handy meeting place when dining with clients or colleagues. Additionally, thanks to the reams of celebrities who regularly grace the space, the staff are incredibly discreet, and comfortable and closed off booth seating ensures your conversations are only heard by those for who they’re intended. While not cheap, the far-reaching menu offers global dishes and has plates that play to most preferences, meaning it’s a safe bet for a mixed group.
OXO Tower Restaurant
Barge House Street, South Bank, SE1 9PH
A classic choice for a business lunch, the Oxo Tower Restaurant offers diners a modern European menu coupled with sweeping views of London’s skyline – ideal if you’re entertaining out of town contacts. The tasting menu guarantees an impressive experience with its seven courses, and you can of course add a drink pairing if required. The fish course might bring warm Dorset crab with a brown meat parfait while mains such as a braised ox cheek lasagne have timeless appeal.
Pollen Street Social
8-10 Pollen Street, Mayfair, W1S 1NQ
Found in the heart of Mayfair, Jason Atherton’s Michelin starred Pollen Street Social has the sort of service that can always be relied upon to create a gracious and relaxed atmosphere. Known for his playful creations, Atherton’s signature style is sure to surprise and delight clients if you’re looking to impress. The set lunch menu is reasonably priced at £45 for three courses and includes options such as roast Cornish cod with a lobster bisque for main, and a choice of dishes such as a miso crème caramel or a cheeseboard for afters. The Chef’s Room offers private dining for up to 12 guests, while for bigger meets exclusive hire of the entire restaurant is a possibility for up to 70 diners.
Claude Bosi at Bibendum
Michelin House, 81 Fulham Road, SW3 6RD
While the two Michelin starred restaurant at Claude Bosi at Bibendum is only open for lunch at the weekend, the Oyster Bar is open all day Tuesday – Sunday. With a refined seafood menu in a relaxed setting, this offers a slightly less formal alternative to some of the other best business restaurants in London. Starters include classics like Cornish grilled sardines and steak tartare, while there are plenty of fish mains as well as a cote de boeuf. Seafood platters provide a spectacular centrepiece to any meal, while oysters – naturally – bring an additional air of sophistication.
Lancaster Place, Covent Garden, WC2R 1LA
Found at Somerset House, Spring by Syke Gyngell is a wonderfully fresh, bright space in which to entertain. The chefs are consistently evolving the menu, so no matter how many times you choose to host a meal here, you should be met with something different. Each day there’s a set lunch for £28.50 for two courses, or £31.50 for three courses, while for early evening there’s an interesting ‘scratch’ menu which utilises commonly discarded ingredients (like peelings) and takes the place of a traditional pre-theatre. If you’d prefer a more private event, The Salon can be hired and offers a beautiful garden-like space for up to 36 guests.
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