The countdown is complete, and we can now recommend the 20 best suggestions for client dining in London courtesy of Mr. Sykes Modern Concierge. So if you are wondering where to take your client for your next meeting, look no further for a dose of culinary inspiration...
1. Nobu Berkeley Street
15 Berkeley Street, W1J 8DY
And then there was one. The only one. The one and only Nobu Berkeley Street. The Chiltern Firehouse may be the current white hot favourite, and remember, last year it was Balthazar, but what other establishment in London has been able to sustain the undeniable frisson of Nobu Berkeley Street?
Nearly a decade ago now, Nobu Berkeley Street established high voltage dining in London. It was the enfant terrible of Mayfair, the crazy sibling of the rather more genteel Nobu Park Lane (itself unbeatable for sedate summer lunches with views over Hyde Park) and the upstart original Japanese-Peruvian fusion format that other high end sushi restaurants still try to emulate today.
When it comes to special occasion breaking bread with clients, it is still difficult to beat the glamour of dining at Nobu Berkeley Street. The food critics were always aghast at the prices and star studded clientele, but to everyone else, Nobu Berkeley Street is the perfect excuse for dress-up dining and remains the knock-out choice for big gun client entertainment. If you can get a table. Still.
The David Collins designed interiors more than withstand the test of time. The downstairs bar remains one of the most seductive spaces in London, all green and gold and shimmering suggestions of Japanese forests. The same theme continues upstairs, with the sleek simplicity of wood and metals contrasting the curving undulations of the throbbing bar below.
When you need to really impress, book the little known Hibachi table where 12 lucky people get to enjoy the ultimate Nobu Berkeley Street dining experience: hot food cooked on the sizzling hibachi grills on your table. Not every event organiser realises that Nobu Berkeley Street is also available privately – from product presentations to seasonal parties, perfect for when you really need to weaponise your invitations, should budgets allow.
What gives the staying power? Well, after all these years and a Michelin star, that the food is great is a given. The possibility that you'll be sat next to a famous remains a thrill (and a likelihood) for many. More probably, it's that Nobu Berkeley Street has been under the same management since it opened. Regulars get treated to a style of service and recognition that keeps drawing them back for the same great food in the same beautiful surroundings. Congratulations general manager, Mr. Paul Murashe and to the team behind the indomitable Nobu Berkeley Street phenomenon. Our #1 for client dining in London.
2. Merchants Tavern
36, Charlotte Road, EC2A 3PG
Not to be confused with Charlotte Street in Adland, Charlotte Road is the most grown up address in Shoreditch. Home to the Prince's School of Traditional Arts, Mr. Start fashion triumvirate and numerous world renowned, award winning creatives from disciplines as diverse as landscape architecture to couture fashion show production. Home also, to the showroom of Dutch designer Tord Boontje, ex-head of design products at the Royal College of Art, plus many emerging young fashion edge brands, showrooms and pop-ups.
Here, at the heart of the original Shoreditch triangle you'll find Merchants Tavern, the most grown up of the new wave fine dining rooms of Tech City. Watch the angel investors smooch the hottest start-up hopes here. This particular venture is backed by none other than Angela Hartnett, MBE, of Murano (Mayfair) fame.
However, it's head chef Neil Borthwick at the culinary helm, serving up excellent contemporary British cooking that will absolutely delight your clients. The décor is a luxe materials take on the Shoreditch warehouse aesthetic. Leather, wool, wood, metals. Those based in The City should not forget about the Merchants Tavern as it is just five minutes up Bishopsgate, perfect, should your firm ever needs to show a creative side.
Merchants Tavern is attracting a very nice mix clientele representing the many aspects of Shoreditch – the enlightened city suits, the founders, investors, the stylish, the curious. And a growing advance party of West London food tourists, establishing Shoreditch as a serious dining destination. Stand up Rochelle Canteen, The Clove Club and new sensation, Lyle's too.
Take your clients to Merchants Tavern under any circumstances, from 1 on 1 to larger groups. If you want to keep it informal ask for side by side seats at the Kitchen Counter - experience eating for up to ten people seated in front of the theatre of the open kitchen. Downstairs, The Store Room – a subterranean exposed brick basement cellar - seats 22 or 40 standing for atmospheric private entertaining.
The bar provides a very buzzy meeting point for diners, and has also become a destination for smarter post-work pints and craft cocktails.
Bravo Dominic Lake, Patrick Clayton-Malone, Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick for blessing East London with Merchants Tavern. It was greatly needed. As much as Shoreditch is famous for edgy concept dining, Tech City needs places like Merchants Tavern for the serious side of social business development.
4-6 Russell Street, WC2B 5HZ
There's no doubt about it, this is one of the most handsome dining rooms in London and what wowed New York has already found it's place in the book of London classics. Balthazar is a glitzy date in any client diary, and its early morning to late night offering works around media diaries a treat. Very social.
Brunches and late lunches benefit greatly from the brasserie menus. Which also creates the possibility here too of expenses-very-friendly daytime, off-site catch ups. Snag and snack apparently. Read about Balthazar and the great service here is regularly noted. That, plus the buzzing atmosphere make it a very enjoyable place to dine, which means better-quality time with clients.
Oh, and you'll all look great. New York restaurants know about lighting. It's the looks enhancing lighting, detailed furnishing, the sectional lay-outs and lashings of mirrors that help create the magic of Balthazar. It's an epic space, with traditional brasserie sections creating perfect client dining nooks as well as on show booths. Keith McNally also gets it right in the kitchen, with the brasserie classics and exquisite seasonal seafood well suited to regular visits.
Send an immediate note to whomever organises dinners and events for your company: there is a mini-Balthazar above Balthazar and it is one of the best private dining rooms in London. Complete with bar area, booths and floor space for a single long table or rounds. The room holds up to 60 guests and what an amazing venue for breakfast briefings, launches, lunches or major dinner parties.
42 Albemarle Street, W1S 4JH
Sometimes, a curry is in order. Of course, those in the East will forever be delighting their clients with Tayyabs in Whitechapel, however, when in comes to Mayfair, only Gymkhana will do. Named this week as the UK's Best Restaurant, Gymkhana channels Raj-era India, when high society patronised the pukka anglo-indian sporting clubs.
Sister restaurant to the also amazing Michelin-starred Trishna in Marylebone, Gymkhana pays authentic Raj-homage both in terms of décor and cuisine. The dark lacquered oak, mahogany, rattan, marble tables and ceiling fans do conjure up the grand cafes of India old. The subdued lighting adds to the overall sepia nostalgia – hunting trophies, Jaipur glass wall lamps, ornate rugs and antique mirrors, with occasional flashes of Indian colour. We may not wish those times again, but the look and the food are very welcome.
It's the food that everyone is raving about. With a focus on the tandoori oven, and contemporary approach to traditional Indian cooking. Delicate seasoning and fragrant aromas abound the seven-course menu, displaying the true diversity of Indian cuisine, from Kerala in the South, to Rajasthan in the North.
Over two floors, with a bar downstairs (serving up incredible cocktails), the tables at Gymkhana are generously spaced adding further appeal for client dining. If you need greater privacy, then two dining vaults seat up to 14. Mostly, Gymkhana wins hands down as somewhere very different to take your clients to.
If London is the crossroads of the modern world, then it's places like this that prove it so. Authentic new India dining. Don't forget about Tayyabs though (slightly lower key there). Every cuisine in the world should be represented here as well as this.
5. The Wolseley
160 Piccadilly, W1J 9EB
For your most civilised clients, our most civilised suggestion: The Wolseley. Ten years on, and still an invitation to this grand dame dining room excites the jaded. Arguably one of, if not, the best place in London for breakfast. The Wolseley starts buzzing with the early birds and does not stop until late. Notoriously, consistently and reassuringly difficult to book – your client will appreciate the extra thought and effort.
We love The Wolseley most for the fact that it's not just or all about three course dining: the All Day and Afternoon Tea menus mean taking clients here needn't break the bank. A very clever pick for any smart young account manager on the rise to pop-in for a diary friendly, out of the rush hours, alcohol free, chic meet with their favourite client. Timeless and very on brand for the most style conscious media types.
For those with bigger budgets, the private dining room at The Wolseley is discretion itself. Fourteen guests are cosseted away, out of sight in the stunning private room, but with full view of the restaurant and Piccadilly. The Wolseley really does edge on perfection: the food, the service, the buzzing ambiance, but, there is no doubt, that the dining room itself is the true star of the show.
In the early nineteen hundreds, architect William Green Curtis looked to the grandest rooms of Florence and Venice for the original design of The Wolseley Car Company showroom. The late great interior designer David Collins further channeled this grand tour aesthetic to bring The Wolseley to life and now, 10 years later, it really does feel like it has been there forever already. RIP David Collins. Long live The Wolseley.
6. Hoi Polloi
100 Shoreditch High Street, E1 6JQ
From the Shoreditch Kings behind London classic Bistrotheque and fabled pop-up originals such as Reindeer at Truman Brewery, Hoi Polloi at the Ace Hotel is the new kid on the block, part of the new breed of smarter restaurants around Shoreditch and we love it.
We love the Mad Men-esque décor, all ceramics, wood and metallics. This modernist brassiere opens early for breakfast all through the day 'til night caps, including a proper afternoon tea service. The food attracts deserved high praise too but, for us, it's the genuinely friendly service that brings Hoi Polloi together, and saves it from being too cool for school. There is no doubt about it, with a high beard count, this place is very cool indeed. (Did we mention the entrance is via a flower shop?).
Traditional media owners should definitely take their younger clients here – if only to let them experience what newsprint feels like. The Hoi Polloi menu is printed on 12 tabloid pages of the good stuff, guiding you through the various breakfast, lunch, dinner, supper and all day dining options. Hoi Polloi is a most excellent spot for both one-on-one client dining and also slightly larger groups. Celebration dinners? Pick Thursday for particularly buzzy dining.
Hoi Polloi also has a walk-in, budge-up diner section with free Wi-Fi and power points, so it's just as good for touch down coffees as it is for full on client lunches. Best place in all London for ham, egg and chips. How cool is that?
7. Berner's Tavern
10 Berner's Street, W1T 3LF
Jason Atherton seems to be ruling London at the moment, with a diverse collection of exciting dining rooms and none more so than Berner's Tavern at the white hot London Edition hotel. The restaurant has the rare air of excitement of just opened but already there forever. The service is excellent, and as with any well run restaurant, never be afraid of an impromptu walk-in. A patient cocktail at the bar is usually well rewarded with a table.
The room itself is on an epic scale, and run with precision by Matthew Mawtus, former Young Waiter of the Year in 2007 (30 Under 30 anyone?). Open from morning 'til night, the hum builds throughout the day and you can expect a high glamour experience from dinner there.
The kitchen is very much in view and produces great British cooking, all about the best possible available ingredients. It's one of those menus with plenty to eat on it. This is Ian Schrager's 'new kind of gathering place' and your clients who like this kind of dining, will love it. Particularly, for celebration client dining, but not so much for quiet, out of the way dinners.
The private dining room above is sleek and serious, seating 14 and suiting dinners where making an impact is important. Fitzrovia's number one client spot. Remember for date night also.
8. J. Sheekey
28-35 St. Martin's Court, WC2N 4AL
Scott's last week and J. Sheekey this week. More fish? What next, the Ivy? Well, no London dining list is complete without J. Sheekey, and certainly not one for the media industry. Famous forever, for the finest fruits of the sea, J. Sheekey is part of the esteemed and revered Caprice Holdings portfolio.
If your client entertainment includes Covent Garden theatre or opera, then J. Sheekey is perfect either before or after. With no private dining room here (larger tables on request), we say J. Sheekey is particularly suited to breaking bread in small groups, or 1 on 1 even, for serious business dining when important matters are to be discussed over fine food. Choose the Oyster Bar for something lighter or terrace dining on sunny days. Either way, an absolutely delicious place to dine, in every respect and a difficult to decline invitation.
20 Mount Street, W1K 2HE
Go elsewhere if you are on a budget or even thinking about cost. But, when the occasion demands only the very best, take them to Scott's. It's not easy but not impossible to get a table. An invitation to lunch or dinner here has as much diary clearing power as the Wimbledon men's final.
Quite simply, Scott's is an iconic London dining room, where the minute attention to detail and styling is as much appreciated, adding to the sense of occasion, as it is reflected in the bill. Know that, especially during the game season, that there's much more to Scott's than just fish, but of course, it is indeed all about the fish.
The central grand oyster bar sets the scene – perfect for on-show champagne sipping and feasting on the freshest imaginable oysters; while the clubby leather banquettes offer the greatest views of the on-court oyster bar action. Of course, a big part of Scott's frisson is the likelihood of spotting the major global players lunching or dining in the same place as you. It seems most of the faces are somehow familiar. They are.
Yes, there are liveried doormen and the tables are fully set – for mere mortals this is occasion dining at it's finest. Scott's is in a league of it's own and defies time, since 1851 to be precise and still hot. With something very special to celebrate, think about the beautiful art deco private dining room; dining for 12 – 40 or up to 60 standing – perfect for very proper product launches.
39 Whitfield Street W1T 2SF
In the week that Nike finally clarified the correct pronunciation of its name, we bring you Dabbous. It is bang slap in the middle of agency land and probably already well known to many, but have you been here yet? Opened in 2012, (closed Mondays) it was the talk of the town – with both the cooking and interiors drawing near unanimous praise, in fact, being a member of the 'so what' brigade seemed the only way to have a distinctive point of view. So what?
The food is fantastic. Michelin starred young chef Oliver Dabbous brings an ingredients-focused approach to his simple and restrained seasonal menus. The cooking is very much front and centre, with little distraction or unnecessary foofery. As much as the food is about the ingredients, here, the décor is all about the materials and the design aligns with the simple and restrained ethos – exposed beams, bricks, AC vents, wood, concrete, leather, glass and metals. Very industrial, very chic.
Dabbous is a winner for clients with a love of food or interest in design. Two years in, it's also now easier to get a table. Don't forget about the downstairs bar as a great meeting place for early evening client cocktails – plus both restaurant and bar are available for exclusive use private functions. It's a perfect ten.
11. The Clove Club
380 Old Street, EC1V 9LT
Back in Shoreditch and to a truly fantastic spot; recently and rightly recognised as one of the best restaurants in the world. It's all about the food and be prepared to be dazzled by it. Forget gloss and glamour, this is where to take your most serious foodie client – and they will be available. We are yet to hear a single negative comment about The Clove Club from those who know about food. Ditto the plaudits for the front of house team.
Shoreditch Town Hall provides a suitably important home, yet it really is unassuming. The bar offers the option for drinks and taster plates (great early evening, not quite dinner catch up?), but head to the restaurant for an 'ambitious five course menu'. They say themselves that they favour interesting and often overlooked British ingredients – and it's this that your foodie client will love. The Clove Club started life as a supper club of the same name in Dalston, launching last year as a fully fledged restaurant after a successful part-crowd funding exercise – something else interesting to talk about while eating there.
While the Town Hall location adds its own air of establishment to The Clove Club, it feels as guerilla as a one week only pop-up. We apologise to the foodie fraternity for its number 11 listing, but at the same time, it's not a venue for all – and probably the young team behind The Clove Club aimed precisely for just that. Take your larger tables elsewhere, but this is an excellent shout for small group business dining. At £55 per head for the five courses, it's extraordinary rather than extravagant.
12. Granger & Co
50 Sekforde Street London EC1R 0HA
His first UK restaurant opened in Notting Hill in 2012 and managed to irk initially with yet another no bookings policy. Now, Bill Granger ventures to Clerkenwell, happily accepting bookings midweek, making life easy for busy types. Long a fan of his simple, clean, Antipodean cuisine, we think the new Granger & Co an excellent spot for bright and airy business breakfasts or lunches. (There are many agencies and businesses that use agencies located within close proximity.)
While the menu may be too safe to win high praise from food snob critics, Bill Granger is a global brand chef and a very safe bet for quality time with important clients. With its buzzing atmospherics, it's not really a venue suited to rowdy larger celebration tables, but it's perfect for great one on one business conversations over the table.
Clerkenwell Green is an excellent location for this style of unpolluted dining, with some sparkling water and healthy eats providing brain food for exploring ideas and possibilities with your client. This recently opened restaurant will be a fresh invitation to even the most lunched out among us. Some won’t even know it exists, and they’ll remember they heard it first from you.
13. Social Eating House
58 Poland St, W1F 7NR
Gosh this place gets busy and seems at the heart of the new Soho buzz. Chef patron Paul Hood creates great British food from great British ingredients, mixing modernity with heritage against the backdrop of a seriously stylish ground floor dining room – already seemingly there forever.
Perfect for a celebratory dinner, chances are your clients won't have been yet and somehow it feels exciting to be there, it's a good kind of buzz. Martin Renshaw sees to excellent service, the young sharp suiter firmly established as one of the best general managers in London restaurants today. It makes such a big difference to the social eating experience.
It all gets dark and mysterious upstairs in the Bling Pig: same stylish interiors but with the lights dimmed lower, tables and banquettes hum with the youngs enjoying cocktails and small bites served in jars – absolutely delicious. Downstairs, there's a fantastic chef's table bookable for 9 lucky diners to witness the magic of Paul Hood close-up. Social Eating House is another winner from the Jason Atherton stable, and somehow, he cleverly pushes to the front, talent he has nurtured and continues to encourage. The first celebrity chef who's restaurants are not all about them? Brilliant we say.
14. BubbleDogs (and KitchenTable)
70 Charlotte St, W1T 4QG
We love the simple proposition: hot dogs and champagne. Bang slap in the middle of Fitzrovia, the location will suit many media peeps and seems a fresher pick than some of the tested but tired go to hang-outs around there. Online it's not all praise for BubbleDogs, but the majority of the ire is directed towards a no booking policy, which has recently been changed to sensibly take lunchtime bookings.
The delicious dogs in come in veggie, pork and beef with all sorts of options, but it's the champagne list we admire most: not the usual lux bubbles but a savant selection of small, independent growers from a very reasonable £35 per bottle or £6 glass that makes the bubbles part an education in itself. Bubbledogs is great for some one-on-one client time, where the treat of the bubbles is levelled with a democratic but elevated hotdog.
Next time you are in the seat for organising a team or with clients' larger gathering, think about Kitchentable: tucked right away at the back of BubbleDogs, it is another dining experience not to be missed. 19 Seats around an open kitchen, with a 12-14 course tasting menu, cleverly distilled into a one word description ('oyster', 'asparagus', 'monkfish' and so on). The nouns change daily and chef James Knappett invites regular guest chefs to share the pass with him. It's eating as theatre and breaking bread at its best. Swap seats every few courses and you'll be on to a winning night out. KitchenTable menu plus wine pairing costs £136 per head – but for that everyone is well fed and well watered without breaking the bank.
Last word on the dogs? Also available to takeaway to feed those burning the midnight pitch prep oil.
15. Rochelle Canteen
Arnold Circus, E2 7ES
Just off Shoreditch High Street is one of the greatest foodie finds in all London. We have included it at number 15 just to make sure you don't miss a single sunny day – which is when Rochelle Canteen really comes alive with seats outside in an utterly tranquil and leafy setting.
Rochelle is open only during office hours for breakfast, elevenses, lunch and afternoon tea – enough options to get around any busy diary. The food is always seasonal and sumptuous, the menu is published online daily. Housed in the former school bike shed, Rochelle Canteen is a very clever choice for team or client events, perfect for summer time product launches. If it's sunny today – call your favourite client and go there for an impromptu lunch.
Inside, the tables are shared, so book for 4 or 6 for exclusivity, but really, the shared tables are all part of the Rochelle experience. Fuddy duddies should go elsewhere.
16. Bob Bob Ricard
1 Upper James Street, W1F 9DF
As close to dining inside a faberge egg as you are ever likely to get. Bob Bob Ricard is an entirely insane option when you are looking for somewhere fun to entertain your clients. Much more about celebratory get-togethers than serious client dining, as evidenced by the ‘Press for Champagne’ buttons at every table. Really. Serving up serious comfort food – ‘a luxury English & Russian menu’ – from 7am until 3am. You’ll not be surprised that many items are served with a theatrical flair, but the food here is excellent.
Of course the other diners will provide excellent people watching and on a Thursday evening, it’s a great shout for rather lively dining and music (and champagne). What a really fresh choice when it’s time to celebrate shared success with your client. There is a real, and perhaps rare, fun personality to this restaurant, but with excellent service and booth seating, it’s a serious choice for fun client dining.
17. The Holborn Dining Room
252 High Holborn, London, United Kingdom WC1V 7EN
Not long open, but already a firm favourite bang slap in the middle of Group M land and the recruitment ad agency concentrations of Midtown London. Also a great in-between location for Soho/Shoreditch meet-ups. Holborn Dining Room is a wonderful (and beautiful) all day brasserie, perfect when diaries dictate odd-time meetings, from early til late.
The vibe is buzzy and informal, very European cafe culture. Apart from great food, including signature burgers, we were most impressed by the service. Under the extremely experienced guidance of the very dapper Mr. Jon Spiteri (the Quo Vadis legend), Holborn Dining Room easily makes this 'best' list as a thoroughly enjoyable client dining spot. Finally Holborn has somewhere great to go.
18. The River Cafe Private Dining Room
Thames Wharf, Rainville Road, London W6 9HA
Business lunches and dinners are about taking time out from the everyday, to focus on better ways of serving the needs of the client business. Worth investing the extra minutes to get to Hammersmith and the rarified riverside surroundings of The River Cafe. This timeless classic is currently searching for a new home, so it won't be around forever in its current form, providing even more impetus for a visit this summer. Brainchild of the late and beloved Rose Gray, the food is Italian simplicity and elegance itself, channeling the Rogers family Tuscan heritage.
For design-conscious brands and clients, there can be few better environments to explore creative ideas and forge lasting business relationships. Catch a sunny day and you will be talking about your event there for many years to come. This is how you show your clients you are serious about design and serious about their business. Foodies adore.
Still work in Soho? Polpetto is a great spot for 60-minute munches. Take your chance and rock up for lunch or, best, call precisely 14 days before your intended visit to bag the time you want. A favourite since the French House old days, Chef Florence Knight serves up delicious plates to share and taste while breaking bread over a get to know you lunch.
Keep it casual at the marble topped aperitivo bar, with views through to the open kitchen supplying plenty to talk about and remember. Read elsewhere about the food, but this is small plate dining which helps keep budget and waistlines in control. A Venetian blinder.
20. The Chiltern Firehouse
This excellent new restaurant has been subjected to the kind of opening hype and hysteria unheard of since the nineties, now with added social media. Tears have been shed and super model tantrums thrown at the rather democratic treatment of even the global A-list glitterati – most of them have been refused the day or time they called to book and sheepishly settled for an appreciated booking-at-all. (Word).
The bad news is that it is worth it, crab donuts and all. We were blown away by the perceptible euphoria in the room, humans gleefully interacting between courses and selfies and tweets of delight about the food even before the calories kick in. Just happy to be there.
We can promise you that client schedules will open to accompany you here for brunch, lunch, dinner, cocktails and even super late suppers. No one can promise you a table. Tell everyone you are not subscribing to the bull and have decided to wait until October to give it time to settle in.
Here at number 20, but already No.1? Sound the alarm. As for Nuno Mendes? Women love men that can cook.