A 2009 poll by the Society for Human Resource Management offer some sober statistics: 70% of Americans spend the window of time universally referred to as “lunch” grazing in their cubicles in an attempt to maximise productivity and bolster their careers.However, amidst this culture of desk-side eating, the power lunch, that hallowed means of cementing business relationships, is still alive and well.
In an interview with Boston Business Journal, Jack McCullough, director of business development for Carlin, Charron & Rosen LLP, said the lunch meeting is “about establishing or solidifying relationships rather than accomplishing a specific task.” Which goes to show that a professional can further his or her career outside the office, without skimping on lunch.
So where do Boston businessmen like McCullough take their colleagues?
In general, Boston’s business staples offer “upscale comfort food,” with steakhouses and American cuisine being the mainstays. In keeping with the local character, The Parthenon Group‘s Amie Sugarman tells us, “seafood is a big focus of business lunches.” And of course, there’s the occasional French restaurant and place with a “creative” menu.
Regardless of what food is served, the most popular restaurants are close to work, have excellent service, and reflect Boston’s down-to-earth nature and neighbourhood feel.
Click here to see the best restaurants for a business lunch in Boston >
Is your favourite restaurant missing from this list? Add your recommendations in the comments.
Voted Best Steakhouse in Boston in 2004, 2005 and 2009, it's no wonder Abe & Louie's is so popular. It has every cut of meat you can think of, and its dark oak reflects the austerity of its higher-end clientele; it has been rumoured that Warren Buffet is a frequent patron as well as Chad Gifford of FleetBoston Financial Corp.
For private dining, Abe & Louie's offers an upstairs room called 'Louie, Louie' and a downstairs option called 'The Board Room.' Among its various accolades, Improper Bostonian voted it 'Best Bar for 40-Something Singles' of 2009, which explains why this review referred to its bar as a cougar den. Additionally, Zagat Survey 2009 & 2010 vote it 'Best Power Lunch.'
As if Warren Buffet weren't enough to convince you.
Image: The Boston Phoenix
Once lauded as 'steakhouse to end all arguments' by New York Times food critic Ruth Reichl, Smith & Wollensky is about as classic as it gets for business lunch venues. Perhaps that's why it's a staple among the Back Bay crowd - that, their aged steaks, consistently good seafood and 'no-nonsense, down-to-earth' decor.
Their desserts don't come highly-recommended, but, hopefully, you'll have closed your deal before then.
Image: Arch News Now
Kingfish Hall, Todd English's seafood 'pantheon' right across from Quincy Market, is another favourite of people who work in the Finance District.
In addition to every New England classic you can think of, from lobster rolls to fried oysters, you'll find a delicious Peruvian export on the menu: ceviche.
Image: Boston, Mass Dining
With locations in Back Bay and Long Wharf, it would seem difficult to come up with a good excuse to skip Sel de la Terre. Sugarman calls it a 'definite Parthenon favourite,' and its charcuterie and pates provide a respite from the onslaught of American and seafood joints on this list.
Described as 'upscale French food,' Sel de la Terre offers 'rustic cuisine, from our farm to your fork' and specialises in Provençal recipes.
Its 'fancy breadbasket' -- alternately known as 'artisan bread' -- comes from Sel de la Terre's very own boulangerie, which was voted Best Bread of Boston in 2005.
Add to that the fact that the restaurant is very affordably priced for its Back Bay location and you have the reasons for its success.
Located in the Clarendon Building, this high-windowed 'urban tavern' is another favourite of the Back Bay consulting crowds, notes Bain & Company's Elliot Mattingly. Its lounge area, sleek bar, and generally upscale but unpretentious ambience makes Post 390 a popular place to hold client meetings.
In fact, an individual on Yelp! referred to it as 'a bit of a meat market,' but perfect for business meetings, with the comfort food done 'very well.' Just make sure you don't fall asleep after eating your Beer and Bacon Mac 'n Cheese.
Image: Boston Condo Loft
Voted Boston's Best Steakhouse by Improper Bostonian in 2009 and many, many, epicurian magazines in the past, Grill 23 & Bar has been servicing the professional crowd since its opening over 25 years ago.
Among its other merits, Morgan Stanley's Robert White lauded Grill 23 & Bar for its 'very professional service that does not disturb' in an interview with Boston Business Journal. That said, it is pricey: lunch is offered as a 3-course sit-down for $68.
The chef's weekly signature specials keep it from getting dull, and its massive, high-ceilinged mahogany dining room creates a nice backdrop for meetings held outside the office. Careful, though - at private luncheons they charge an extra $100 if you want AV with the LCD projectors the restaurant allocated for the special use of business parties.
Image: Grill 23 & Bar website
If you're hankering for light cuisine that is more 'modern' or American than Sel de la Terre's rustic offerings, Radius might be for you; it is for South End business crowds.
Notable for its impeccable service as much as its food, one of Radius' pulls is its creative menu, from a starter of chilled cucumber and apple soup with Maine crab, allepo pepper and argan oil ($15) to a buffalo mozzarella salad with 'crispy prosciutto vinaigrette' ($13).
Considering Radius' liberal employment of prosciutto and other deli meats, we suspect the restaurant owner means 'small portions' more than 'wholesome' when he calls its food 'light cuisine.'
Image: Radius Restaurant Website
Located in Beacon Hill, Silvertone Bar & Grill is one of the hipper business lunch choices. Serving American comfort food, it caters to business people as well as professors and students from nearby Suffolk University.
With entrees running from $10 to $20, Silvertone Bar & Grill is a relaxed, lively environment to meet someone for a business lunch. Morgan Stanley's Robert White suggests ordering the steak tips.
Image: Boston Area Nightlife
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