By: Esme Banks Marr
Making the most of your lunchbreak? Treating a client or colleague? Catching up with stakeholders? Having that long-awaited meeting with the accountant or business coach? Whichever way you look at it, the working lunch has a serious place in our modern working lives – and it’s not just for PR professionals!
Just a couple of tips before I delve into my recommendations though…
Wine at lunch isn’t always appropriate, or necessary. Use your initiative and remember to drink water, even if you are having an alcoholic drink too. Order the water first, whatever you do. You still want to make sense at the end of the meeting… Don’t order anything too sloppy – spaghetti, ramen noodles and shellfish are pretty much a no, unless you are close with the person you’re having lunch with. If you’re eating something sloppy, smelly or fiddly, you’ll be too busy fighting your food to pitch, discuss, brainstorm or plan.
I’ve based my suggestions around tube stations because, let’s face it, you’ve got other things to get on with after lunch so you’ll be needing to travel again.
1. Cambridge Street Kitchen, Pimlico (5 min to Victoria)
This place is an excellent spot to take friendly clients for informal meetings. They do breakfast for those early bird meetings and have a cocktail bar downstairs for the after-work celebratory drinks. The décor is comfortable and modern, with a domesticated Pimlico vibe.
2. BFI Stephen Street Kitchen, Fitzrovia (8 min to Tottenham Court Rd)
I love this place as you can see right into the BFI HQ next door. Film posters and giant Oscar statuettes stare at you through the glass as you sit in your lavish looking velvet green booth, sipping a cracking coffee and chowing down a flatbread straight from the pizza oven. This one’s appropriate for any and all meetings.
3. The Folly, Gracechurch St (2 min to Bank)
A garden inspired lounge spread over two floors. It opens early for breakfast and goes straight through until late. The menu is extensive and there are various seats to choose from – benches, dining chairs and armchairs. A good spot to meet someone for the first time. It’s easy to locate and pretty much everyone in London knows it.
4. Dishoom, Shoreditch (3 min to Shoreditch High St and 10 min to Liverpool St)
The exotic one on the list. If you have to book a business meeting for someone you know enjoys Indian food, do it here – end of. The food is great, as is the service. It’s something different and it’s uber cool…
5. Foxlow, Clerkenwell (6 min to Farringdon)
A cosy spot, great for wintery days. But I’d say it’s a good one for group meetings, or for more intimate rendezvous. It’s right in the centre of Clerkenwell so you’re no doubt going to run into furniture salesman and the odd publisher. But, let’s be honest, if you find yourself there, that’s who you’re going to be meeting anyway!
6. Riding House Café, Great Titchfield St (5 min to Oxford Circus)
This is another hot spot that most people will be aware of. Good for a fleeting coffee meeting or brunch, or a full blown lunch. It’s in the heart of the West End and therefore always busy, so if you haven’t booked, prepare to sit up at the bar.
7. Martello Hall, EAST (5 min to London Fields)
This one doubles up as a great lunch venue and also a co-working space with bottomless coffee and speedy Wi-Fi in the lounge. Raised tables fill the restaurant, which are great for larger collaborative meetings, but it also suits perfectly as another trendy spot to take a colleague for a congratulatory (or just pay-day) drink.
8. No. 32 The Old Town, Clapham Common (3 min to Clapham Common)
Try this place if you find yourself south of the river. Clapham is full of great places nowadays that all tick the same Instagram worthy checklists, but this one is a step up from that … mainly because it has a balcony terrace that overlooks the common. It has a relaxed ambiance and everything from full blown mains to in-a-hurry sandwiches.
9. Farm Girl Café, Portobello (7 min to Notting Hill Gate)
The healthy option. You can’t make a reservation here but there’s always space, even if it means a very short wait. This place is efficient and well suited for a quick catch up with a colleague. It closes at 16.30, so your lunch break really will remain as such. They offer some pretty wild coffee variations too.
10. Natural Kitchen, Baker Street (6 min to Baker St)
Known as a deli, this restaurant edition to the chain is a popular spot for the Marylebone crowd. And rightfully so. Healthy options make up the majority of the menu, with a variety of juices to compliment. Wooden tables and a large glass front give it a farmhouse feel, which is quite welcome in the heart of central London.
11. (I know i promised you ten but as this place is actually called No 11 I thought I’d treat you to a bonus location! ) No.11 Pimlico Road, Victoria (10 min to Victoria)
An all-day restaurant with a modern and relaxed feel to it. The menu is varied, but the food is great and good value. There’s lots of natural light and space to spread out and work on your laptop and various locations for more confidential meetings.