There was a time when the three-martini business lunch was commonplace. Partnerships were formed, deals were made, terms negotiated, and more often than not, the only food eaten a cocktail olive or two. Those days are over. Technology has all but taken over the world, usurping the daily luncheon with the click of a mouse. And yet sometimes, nothing can take the place of good, old-fashioned face time. Whether it’s dining out with someone with whom we’ve been doing business from across the world who’s on a visit to Manhattan, or courting new clients and attracting potential new business, the updated business lunch is still alive and well in Midtown. But where to hold court? The options in New York are seemingly infinite. So here’s a little help with where to go, and what to look for to make your business lunch a roaring success.
First and foremost, a restaurant close to your office would be ideal. This obviously leaves you more time to conduct business and have conversation. You can see a map that lists local midtown restaurants around our executive office spaces located at The Hippodrome here. Acoustics are also key. Obviously, you want a place that’s not too loud. But too quiet can be a problem as well; nobody wants to toss around ideas in a place where they feel they have to whisper, lest they disturb the silence. And a truly noisy or echoic restaurant makes it nearly impossible for people to think, let alone talk, while conducting business. Choose a restaurant with an appropriate clientele that is somewhat in line with the people with whom you’re doing business. Put some thought into the character of your client: A rather conservative executive might not enjoy a restaurant where the waitstaff is wearing street clothes, whereas a younger colleague might feel uncomfortable in an extremely stodgy environment. It’s always best to try a restaurant once or twice before choosing to do business there, and it’s even better if some of the staff are familiar with you and know you by name. Even if the food is incredible, great service is equally important. A waiter who knows when to check in and when to step back, and gives prompt and efficient consideration and patience can vastly improve your lunch experience. Great service is an art form, and when your table-mates get to enjoy it, it makes you look even better. Speaking of tables, they should be far enough apart to create at least a semblance of privacy. It is awkward to say the least when you’re conducting a business lunch and a patron at the next table strikes up a conversation with your client about what he’s having. Besides, everyone is more comfortable with a little elbow room.
Now that you’re armed with some basic “to-do’s” when looking for the ideal haunt to call your own, here are some of our picks for great places to dine in Midtown Manhattan:
The Lambs Club 132 West 44th Street
The Lambs offers a modern approach to American cuisine with distinct ingredients, highly seasonal menus and a signature approach to hospitality. Located off the lobby of the Chatwal Hotel, this “luxe but comfortable” room seats 80 comfortably among spacious red leather banquettes and an oversized 18th Century French fireplace. Executive Chef Eric Haugen was named Zagat’s “30 Under 30” in New York City and noted as one of the culinary up-and-comers. Described by patrons as “the most consistently exceptional dining experience in New York”, this is the kind of place “where deals get made and significant others wooed.”
db bistro moderne 55 West 44th Street
Combine modern decor, exquisite food with the freshest ingredients and a great wine list and you have the db bistro moderne. Chef Daniel Boulud’s contemporary French bistro has undergone a complete renovation, featuring sleek bistro interiors, the addition of a handsome new cocktail bar and a newly-crafted seasonal menu. db bistro serves updated bistro classics with a modern twist and market-driven French-American cuisine. The “Classique” side of the menu features traditional French specialities, while the “”Du Marché” side features seasonal dishes using the Greenmarket’s finest. Guests have described the food as “inexplicably tasty” and lauded the service as excellent.
Aureole New York 135 West 42nd Street
Aureole, New York is the flagship showcase for Culinary Hall of Fame “Celebrated Chef” Charlie Palmer’s unabashed, energetic signature Progressive American Cuisine. Offering a range of dining options, the Bar Room is smart and casual with walnut-topped tables and a back-lit, etched glass-front bar with polished natural zinc top surface. The intimate Dining Room is designed in both lighting and texture to give off a golden glow, and the Halo Private Dining Room is wrapped with fabric panel and silver leaf walls, dotted with sculptural back-lit flame sconces. Now in its 25th year, Aureole is contemporary urban elegance. “Impeccable service” along with food described as “second to none” make Aureole a perfect choice to impress.
Strip House 15 West 44th Street
There will always be clients for whom no other option other than steakhouse will do for a business lunch. Named a top steakhouse by Zagat and awarded four stars by Forbes, Strip House is the place for a memorable beef-eater’s experience, complete with table-side carvings, decadent sides and an extensive wine list. Plush red interiors where old world glamour meets modern style and sophistication, spectacular food and an extremely knowledgeable, helpful staff are sure to put Strip House on your list of places to try.
Osteria al Doge 142 West 44th Street
Quaint and cozy, this locally described “hidden gem” presents an inviting, charming ambience with Venetian-inspired dishes. Homemade pastas are complimented by a good selection of fish and meat entrees, not to mention the sumptuous thin-crusted pizzas. Lauded as “one of the best Italian restaurants that nobody knows about yet,” with a staff described as “very attentive and kind,” Osteria al Doge is an impressive, welcoming and cozy choice for a unique business lunch experience.
Triomphe 49 West 44th Street
Hailed as one of the premier New York City Theater District restaurants, Triomphe is an intimate and engaging choice. The simple design belies its sophistication and understated elegance that carries through your entire business lunch. The restaurant offer lunches filled with flavorful, seasonally inspired selections. They pride themselves on crafting dishes providing the balance of flavors “crisp and sweet – the ideal levels of tastes light and luscious.” When combined with the restaurant’s upscale ambiance and acclaimed service, Triomphe’s creative menus make it one of Midtown’s elite dining destinations. Food has been described as “truly excellent” with “an atmosphere that is quiet and relaxed.” You are now officially armed with all the ingredients you need for a perfect business lunch. Bon Appétit, and cheers!