Despite the global economic downturn, business deals still take place over delicious meals every day — all paid for by corporate expense accounts.
After all, when you’re trying to seal that important deal, there’s nothing like a buttery steak and a glass of Claret to help you close.
In London, the power lunch is also alive and well. The most popular spots offer modern takes on classic British fare in super-swanky settings, but a few more relaxed venues appear on our list as well.
The next time you’re doing a business lunch in the Queen’s city, these are the places to go.
Click here to check out our recommendations for the best restaurants for a power lunch in London >
Special thanks to UK food blogger James Ramsden and London-based marketing consultant Sheji Jacob-Brettle of TelecityGroup for their contributions to this piece.
The Ivy has been a classic for a London power lunch for nearly two decades. And the effort it takes to get a reservation -- unless you have a famous name -- proves it.
From the cozy decor, to the impeccable service, to the excellent and expansive English/American menu, The Ivy is definitely a go-to for any business meeting.
It's little wonder that A-listers and power players flock to to the LA offshoot by the same name.
St. JOHN in Smithfield celebrates the 'snout to tail' philosophy of cooking in the most earnest and delicious way possible.
Recommended all around by London food critics (not to mention Gregory White, Business Insider's very own ex-Londoner), the Michelin star restaurant specialises in offal -- the stuff that few other chefs would touch, let alone base an entire restaurant concept around. And people are flocking to it.
'From the moment self-trained chef Fergus Henderson opened his restaurant in 1994, in a converted smokehouse in Clerkenwell, St John became a cult,' writes Jay Rayner, of The Guardian.
And for all you business travellers, the New York Times says it's a meal that's even 'worth a flight.'
If you're in the mood for a classic American steakhouse, head straight to The Hawksmoor.
The decor might leave something to be desired (as Marina O'Laughlin writes for Metro, 'Hawksmoor isn't the most glamorous restaurant in town. But there's an endearing scruffiness to the place...'). But if you want to do a deal over a slab of amazing meat and a side of thrice-cooked chips, this is your joint.
All their steak comes from famous English butchery The Ginger Pig; The Hawksmoor is one of very few restaurants they've agreed to supply to.
'It was, quite simply, the best steak I have ever eaten in this country,' Rayner reports.
The Cinnamon Club might just be the definition of the power lunch. Considering its location (inside the old Westminster Library) and its regular clientele (MPs from the nearby House of Commons), the restaurant concept embodies British power.
As Rayner writes, the Cinnamon Club scores highly on two elements of the perfect business meal: flawless service and gorgeous setting. The food falls a little short, yet no one seems to care. The lunch service never fails to be packed with politicos devouring classic Indian dishes and taking advantage of the quality wine list.
For other power lunchers, just be sure that this one goes on the expense account -- prices are steep.
Gordon Ramsay at Claridges bears the marks of a great power lunch: celebrity chef, skilled waitstaff, and an elegant venue. Ramsay's latest offshoot in the Claridges hotel also features all the pomp and circumstance that the combination of such a famous name and posh hotel should.
Although the food is not as perfect as that which is offered at the original space, the unbeatable price (£30 for the set lunch) and the excellent service, all enjoyed in a gorgeous setting, makes it ideal for a business lunch.
The Harwood Arms is the ultimate in the new wave of gastropubs surging in London right now. Led by young chef Stephen Williams, the restaurant is a pedigreed venture created by the masterminds behind such other Michelin-starred venues as The Ledbury.
The place has reviewers gushing: 'If the Harwood Arms were human, it would never have been conceived in the first place, for this is such a designer baby of a restaurant that the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority would surely have intervened way before semen was added to ova,' rhapsodizes Matthew Norman of The Guardian.
Most famous for its Scotch egg, The Harwood Arms has now earned its own Michelin star for its innovative pub food comprised of the freshest local ingredients, in addition to its flawless service. Both elements make it the ideal place to go for an old-fashioned English power lunch.
Corrigan's Mayfair is celebrated chef Richard Corrigan's most recent endeavour, and he's clearly going back to the basics. The restaurant's menu is packed with new takes on classic British and Irish dishes, all made up of local, seasonal ingredients.
And it's a hit. AA Gill sums it up in his review for the Times Online: 'And if you think you don't like game, then you need to book a table here now.... There is something indomitable about this menu. It's exactly what we want to find on our plates, but don't know how to ask.'
From the high-end yet comfortable atmosphere, to the expert service, to the delicious cooking, and even to the relatively reasonable prices (£27 for 3 courses and a carafe of wine!), 'by every criterion Corrigan's is a triumph,' writes Norman.
Pizza more often conjures up images of mass-ordered cardboard boxes or greasy street food than professional power lunches.
Pizza East is attempting to change that stereotype. Their creations are artful and surprising, ranging from combinations of veal meatballs, prosciutto, and cream to portobello mushrooms, parsley, and egg.
And, since it's run by SoHo House, the atmosphere is quite fitting for a business meeting: it's set in a gorgeous converted tea house.
Of her visit, Fay Maschler of the London Evening Standard writes that 'big tables of City boys were in full cry.' No wonder it's a hit: the creator was directly inspired by another hot power lunch locale, L.A.'s Pizza Mozza.
For those searching for a gorgeous, trendy restaurant in which to do some business, The Wolseley is your place.
Creators Jeremy King and Christopher Corbin, the duo behind other trendy venues as The Ivy and Le Caprice, needed to put in little effort to have the A-list flocking : 'Who else could open a restaurant with no press releases or publicity and have it full from day one, with fans such as Kate Moss, Anne Robinson and Ed Victor already chowing down at the trough?' writes Moir.
Set in a 1920's car showroom and inspired by sumptuous old-style Vienna cafes, the space itself is impressive. If you're a fan of champagne, Austrian and English cuisine, and eating amidst famous faces, The Wolseley is right up your alley.
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