The hottest restaurants to do business in the world's top commercial hubs
When it comes to taking care of business, there are few places more pleasant than a restaurant or bar. Breaking bread with associates beats the boardroom every time.
But this isn’t a party, and not just any venue will do. Privacy helps; spaces between tables and even the option of a private dining room make all the difference. Too loud, too big, too crowded and too cool are all, quite literally, deal breakers.
Here are our picks for meals with purpose:
8/6 Cowper Wharf Road, Sydney
In this showy city, many movers and shakers like to be visible while they do business and Otto, perched over Sydney Harbour on Woolloomooloo’s Cowper Wharf, allows you to occupy a prominent outside table while enjoying views of the passing parade of celebrities and powerbrokers roaming the wharf’s glam eateries. Local talkback radio personality John Laws has a favourite table and Russell Crowe is another regular. If discretion is more a priority, dine with your group (six to 14) in Otto’s elevated, timber Wool Lift, a few steps above the main restaurant but completely exclusive and with a dedicated waiter.
21 Yurong Street, Sydney
Run for 60 years by the recently departed ‘godfather of Australian Italian food’ Beppi Polese, and still in the family, this seat of power is a poorly kept secret of Australia’s moguls. Kerry Packer brokered deals in the dark and discreet Wine Cellar at the rear, and the restaurant’s other nooks and hidey-holes have witnessed the secret chats of John Howard, Bob Hawke, and politicians of every colour. Frank Sinatra came twice. If the walls could talk, they’d have business advice aplenty, and Polese’s remarkable collection of vintage wines offers plenty to stimulate negotiations.
43 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne
Since 1995, this laneway dining institution’s red leather chairs have been the genteel driving seats for all sorts of business. The old world, European vibe, bar made from 100-year-old Jarrah and 200-strong wine list provide a sense of substance and there’s a handy $39 two-course express lunch for those who need to make quick decisions.
17 Market Lane, Melbourne
If you need to impress, this 40-year-old Cantonese restaurant delivers on all fronts. The impeccably choreographed service has almost a waiter for every diner, with six to eight per larger table performing their duties in perfect sync and with theatrical finesse. The city’s best Peking duck, aromatic broths, silky noodles and pillowy dumplings add up to serious indulgence. You can spot powerbrokers from across Asia’s financial capitals here, doing top-of-town deals with local associates keen to show their city at its culinary best.
The Polo Lounge
9641 Sunset Boulevard, Beverly Hills
For 75 years, the eatery at the Beverley Hills Hotel has hosted the biggest names in Hollywood, and when they’re doing major business they gather in its famous booths, which movie industry powerbroker Sherry Lansing has praised for their peace and privacy. Charlie Chaplin used to have a daily reservation at booth number one, and today the famous names on the banquettes read like a blockbuster’s opening credits: Spielberg, Weinstein, Katzenberg, Hanks, Cruise, Travolta. This is where movies begin and multi-million dollar deals are signed over Polo classics such as the McCarthy salad and Wagyu burger.
The Grill on the Alley
9560, Dayton Way, Beverly Hills
Hollywood’s hierarchy is on display at this Beverly Hills meeting place, with a tier of 14 booths for the mightiest heavyweights perched slightly higher than the other diners – who are by no means insubstantial. Hollywood Reporter reveals that Clint Eastwood favours the signature Dover sole, and Sony TV’s Steve Mosko has used the same booth for 15 years for his power powwows.
The Mark Restaurant, The Mark Hotel
25 East 77th Street, New York
Heavy plush chairs, gentle, flattering light, and the frequent presence of super-chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten are this Upper East Side hotel restaurant’s drawcards - plus you’ll often spot a smattering of celebrities amid the heavyweight business diners. Sir Paul McCartney and Woody Allen are among those who have mixed in the gentle buzz of this comfortably luxe space, populated by lawyers, bankers, PR and advertising execs.
The NoMad Bar, NoMad Hotel
1170 Broadway and 28th Street, New York
The various interconnected spaces that comprise the beautiful NoMad Hotel’s bar and restaurant are filled with nooks and hideaways for doing business in style. Celebrated French designer Jacques Garcia’s stunning interior in a fully restored beaux arts building features green leather upholstered booths, a fireplace from a French chateau, and dark oak furnishings in the stately Parlour dining room where Michelin-starred chef Daniel Humm presides over impeccable cuisine. For elegance and discretion, the two-floor, fully curated library is unbeatable.
160 Piccadilly, London
Repeatedly topping the best for business list in the gastronome’s bible Harden’s London Restaurants, this opulent, Viennese-style brasserie next to the Ritz hotel is the capital’s number one power breakfast venue. Famous faces here include Kate Moss, the Beckhams and a parade of movie directors, tycoons and entrepreneurs. Signature dishes including fishcakes, kedgeree, or haggis with fried duck eggs as well as the extraordinary coffee concoctions – the Wolseley Imperial contains a good dash of cognac - make the first meal of the day a feast for anyone who wants to boss their business.
Tower 42, 24 Old Broad Street, London
In the heart of London’s Square Mile, Jason Atherton’s 24th floor restaurant in the lofty tower of power, Tower 42, has views that transform any meeting into a summit. You’re perched above the city’s nearby financial institutions – including those in the same building - and the deep, curved booths by the windows have hosted countless high level encounters. Glass walled bathrooms add to the spectacle.
Marina Bay Sands, Singapore
Tetsuya Wakuda’s divine degustations in Sydney made him famous around the globe, and since Waku Ghin opened in the swish Marina Bay Sands complex in 2010 it’s been critically lauded for its exquisite European/Japanese creations. Waku Ghin offers a ten-course degustation menu, but for business the bar is ideal; there’s now an a la carte menu and prices that won’t hurt your expense account quite as much as the degustation’s $380-plus. Tetsuya is a world-recognised Sake expert and there’s plenty in his collection here to toast your deal.
Long Bar at Raffles Singapore
1 Beach Road, Singapore
Home of the Singapore Sling, this two-storey bar located on the second floor of Raffles Singapore can lubricate your discussions with the world-famous pink cocktail, created in 1915 by bar captain Ngiam Tong Boon. You can toss peanut shells onto the floor, too, as this is the only place in Singapore where ‘littering’ is permitted. If you enjoy a touch of colonial-style theatre but require the convenience of nearby hotel facilities and the proximity of the business district, hold your meetings here.
Felix at the Peninsula Hotel
Salisbury Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong
The views within and outside compete for honours in this avant-garde eyrie on the 28th floor of Hong Kong’s most famous hotel. Felix’s Philippe Starck interior diverts dramatically from the Pen’s classic glamour, with aluminium chairs, tables and walls, glowing perspex staircase, and floor-to-ceiling glass walls affording jaw-dropping vistas of Victoria Harbour and Kowloon. It’s a little like dining inside a sculpture, and the mod-European food is correspondingly creative. Make sure you take a bathroom break, as the view from the amenities for both genders is one of the city’s best.
Four Seasons Hotel, Hong Kong
Timeless and reliably excellent, this revered French restaurant in the Four Seasons Hotel has giant windows with Victoria Harbour views, plus a theatrical open kitchen to entertain if you’re seated facing the other way. The wood-panelled private dining room for up to 12 people is an enticing alternative to your office boardroom, and the vast selection of wines and artisanal cheeses top off a delicious contemporary French spread your colleagues won’t forget in a hurry.
By Amy Cooper