London offers no shortage of choice when it comes to business dining.
There’s been a trend toward informality in the past couple of years and a focus on value, yet it’s still easy to find traditional establishments where conversations are hushed and mobile phones are silent.
1: Dinner by Heston Blumenthal: Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, 66 Knightsbridge, SW1X 7LA. Information: http://www.dinnerbyheston.com/ or +44-20-7201 3833.
What: The first London restaurant of Heston Blumenthal, the chef who holds three Michelin stars for his innovative cooking at the Fat Duck, in the village of Bray.
Why: The focus is on historically inspired British cuisine and the food is superb. Meat Fruit and Tipsy Cake are among dishes that diners keep going back for.
Where: In the Mandarin Oriental hotel, with floor-to-ceiling windows looking over Hyde Park.
When: It’s difficult to get a table any time and marginally less difficult for lunch. Take what you can get.
Bar: The hotel bar is adjacent to the restaurant. Bar Boulud, downstairs, has more buzz.
Private room: The private dining room seats up to 10 people and there’s a chef’s table for six.
Sound level: Buzzy, 75 decibels.
2. Pollen Street Social: 8-10 Pollen Street, W1S 1NQ. Information: http://www.pollenstreetsocial.com/ or +44-20-7290 7600.
What: The new London restaurant of chef Jason Atherton, who created the popular Maze for his former mentor, Gordon Ramsay.
Why: Atherton is one of the U.K.’s most creative chefs, known for his innovative dishes served in tapas-sized portions. This contemporary bistro is exciting in culinary terms and fun because Atherton focuses on the social side of dining.
Where: A side lane near Regent Street, in Mayfair.
When: Fine for dining with friends as well as for business.
Bar: There’s a 45-seat bar with its own menu.
Private room: The basement private dining room seats 14.
Sound level: Lively, 75 decibels.
3. Le Gavroche: 43 Upper Brook St., W1K 7QR London. Information: http://www.le-gavroche.co.uk and +44-20-7408-0881.
What: Formal French restaurant.
Why: Has been serving gourmet French food since 1967 and is known for flawless service to match the fine food of Michel Roux Jr. It is one of London’s finest restaurants and one of very few with a dress code: male diners are required to wear a jacket. Best not to try making calls on your mobile phone.
Where: In the heart of Mayfair, close to the U.S. Embassy.
When: There’s a great value set lunch for 50 pounds ($82), including wine, though you may need to book weeks ahead.
Bar: Lovely, but only for diners.
Private Room: No.
Sound level: Reverential, 70 decibels.
4. Corrigan’s Mayfair: 28 Upper Grosvenor St., W1K 7EH London. Information: http://www.corrigansmayfair.com or +44-20-7499-9943.
What: Traditional British restaurant.
Why: The Irish chef Richard Corrigan is known as a master of hospitality and his new restaurant has a warm, clubby feel. The menu is seasonal with first-class ingredients and the prices are reasonable for Mayfair.
Where: Just off Park Lane.
When: Best for dinner and drinks.
Bar: Yes, for up to 20 guests, with its own menu.
Private Room: Yes, with seating for up to 30. There’s also a smaller club room beside the kitchen.
Sound level: Fine, 75 decibels.
5. Koffmann’s: Berkeley Hotel, 1 Wilton Place, SW1X 7RL. Information: http://bit.ly/khbncX and +44-20-7235-1010.
What: French brasserie.
Why: French-born Pierre Koffmann is a giant among chefs in the U.K. He previously held three Michelin stars at La Tante Claire and came out of retirement to open Koffmann’s.
Where: In the basement of the Berkeley Hotel.
When: Prince Charles’s consort Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, took Catherine Middleton to Koffmann’s to lunch before the royal wedding. It is that discreet and that special.
Bar: Yes, but it’s of no interest. The hotel’s Blue Bar, which can be reached by a back door, is much more fun.
Private Room: There’s a private dining room that seats eight to 14; there’s also a small, unadvertised private room that seats four if you can get it.
Sound level: A quiet 75 decibels.
6. Goodman: 26 Maddox Street, W1S 1QH. Information: http://www.goodmanrestaurants.com/ or +4420-7499-3776.
What: Russian-owned steak restaurant.
Why: Goodman serves some of the best steaks in London, such as a 400 gram rib-eye. The rest of the menu is good too. Add in excellent service and an affordable wine list and it’s a winning formula.
Where: In Mayfair, just off Regent Street. There’s a second outlet at 11 Old Jewry in the City financial district.
When: Best for dinner, unless you like big steaks and wines for lunch. It’s a great place for team dinners, at least if your team is filled with carnivores.
Bar: Yes, if you want a place to wait for your table.
Private Room: There’s a semi-private dining room for 12 in Mayfair, while the City outlet has private dining for 10.
Sound level: I can’t hear you, 80 decibels.
7. The Gilbert Scott: St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, NW1 2AR. Information: http://www.thegilbertscott.co.uk/ and +44-20-7278 3888.
What: The new British brasserie of chef Marcus Wareing, who holds two Michelin stars at Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley.
Why: Wareing’s menu is based on traditional British dishes such as rib of beef and Kentish pigeon in a pot, prepared with excellent ingredients and modern cooking techniques. It’s the comfort food of a perfectionist.
Where: At St Pancras railway station in a fantastic Victorian Gothic building that appears in “Harry Potter.” It’s handy for the Eurostar.
When: Day or night.
Bar: One of the big attractions of the Gilbert Scott, with high, ornately painted ceilings and dramatic bell chandeliers.
Private room: There’s a kitchen table that seats up to 10.
Sound level: Fine, 75 decibels.
8. Lutyens: 85 Fleet Street, EC4Y 1AE. Information: http://www.lutyens-restaurant.com/ or +44-20-7583-8385.
What: Comfortable British restaurant owned by Terence Conran, his wife Vicki and business partner Peter Prescott.
Why: It’s an elegant dining room with a seafood bar and excellent seasonal dishes. The three-course set menu is 39.50 pounds including wine.
Where: It’s in the former Reuters building on Fleet Street.
When: Anytime. Breakfast is served from 7:30 a.m.
Bar: There is a bar at the entrance. The cozy basement bar is now a private club, although you might ask to drink there.
Private room: Four private rooms and members’ club.
Sound level: A clubby 70-75 decibels.
9. Cigalon: 115 Chancery Lane, WC2A 1PP. Information: http://www.cigalon.co.uk/ or +44-20-7242-8373.
What: Provencal restaurant serving dishes such as Nicoise salad and beef tartare with pommes frites.
Why: The food is simple and delicious, the dining room bright and elegant, the prices are low and the service is professional and friendly.
Where: Housed in a magnificent former auction house on Chancery Lane.
When: The glass ceiling makes Cigalon particularly bright and attractive for lunch.
Bar: there’s a separate basement bar, Baranis, with its own menu and the U.K.’s only indoor Petanque (French boules) court.
Private Room: The semi-private dining room seats eight to nine.
Sound level: Hushed, 70 decibels.
10. Galvin La Chapelle: 35 Spital Square, E1 6DY. Information: http://bit.ly/gSl4I5 or +44-20-7299-0400.
What: Modern European restaurant owned by brothers Chris and Jeff Galvin, two of the most popular chefs in London.
Why: The dining room, housed in a high-ceilinged 19th-century hall is one of the most dramatic in London, while the quality of the cooking is high. The adjoining Galvin Cafe a Vin is ideal for more casual dining.
Where: In Spitalfields market, on the edge of the City.
When: La Chapelle is impressive enough to invite customers and reasonably priced for meals with friends.
Bar: That will be Galvin Cafe a Vin.
Private Room: The Gallery, on a mezzanine level overlooking the dining room, seats 10-16.
Sound level: A buzzy 75 decibels.
11. L’Anima: 1 Snowden St., EC2A 2DQ. Information: +44-20-7422-7000 or http://www.lanima.co.uk.
What: Modern Italian restaurant and bar.
Why: Francesco Mazzei is one of London’s finest chefs and this is one of the city’s most beautiful restaurants. It’s designed by Claudio Silvestrin, the architect responsible for Armani stores. It’s popular with business diners.
Where: On the edge of the City financial district.
When: It’s busy night and day.
Bar: The bar is one of L’Anima’s prime attractions and draws crowds of City folk.
Private Room: Yes, for up to 14 people. It’s luxurious, with a large marble table and Philippe Starck chairs.
Sound level: Too noisy, 80 decibels.
12. Launceston Place: 1a Launceston Place, W8 5RL. Information: http://bit.ly/vjl8K or +44-20-7937-6912.
What: Modern European.
Why: One of the late Princess Diana’s favorite restaurants, it is so charming you might wonder if the food can live up to the ambience. It does. Chef Tristan Welch is a young culinary master.
When: Fine for formal meals or relaxing with friends. Also perfect for romantic dining.
Private Room: Yes, seats up to 10 people.
Sound level: A genteel 75 decibels.
13. The Ledbury: 127 Ledbury Rd., W11 2AQ. Information: +44-20-7792-9090; http://www.theledbury.com
What: Modern European restaurant.
Why: The Ledbury is arguably London’s finest gastronomic restaurant. It currently holds two Michelin stars and Brett Graham is a chef who is on his way to becoming an international culinary star.
Where: In a residential area on the edge of Notting Hill.
When: Evenings are best. Try for a table outside.
Private Room: No.
Sound level: Easy-on-the-ears 70-75 decibels.
14. The Greenhouse: 27A Hay’s Mews, W1J 5NY. Information: http://www.greenhouserestaurant.co.uk or +44-20-7499-3331.
What: Modern French restaurant.
Why: Excellent cooking and the most impressive wine list in the U.K. make this discreet Mayfair restaurant popular with the business crowd.
Where: Quiet mews close to Berkeley Square.
When: Lunch or dinner. The tables are well-spaced, so privacy isn’t a problem.
Private Room: Yes, for up to 10 guests.
Sound level: If you drop a pin, you should hear it, 70 decibels.
15. Hibiscus: 29 Maddox St., W1S 2PA London. Information: http://www.hibiscusrestaurant.co.uk or +44-20-7629-2999.
What: Modern French gourmet restaurant.
Why: Claude Bosi is beloved by London foodies. His dishes, such as suckling pig with sea urchin, kohlrabi and fondant sweet potato are individual and intriguing. Of course, you might not like them. There’s no comfort food on the menu.
Where: Close to the stores of Regent Street and Mayfair.
When: Fine for lunch or dinner. There’s a private room downstairs for 18-30, or the restaurant is good for smaller groups.
Private Room: Yes, for up to 18 diners or 30 standing.
Sound level: Quiet, 70 decibels
16. Roka: 37 Charlotte St., W1T 1RR London. Information: +44-20-7580-6464; http://www.rokarestaurant.com
What: Modern Japanese restaurant/bar.
Why: Roka serves delicious modern Japanese dishes to a media and advertising crowd. Try the wagyu sushi in mirin, ginger and soy. While Roka isn’t a place for purists, it’s hip and fun.
Where: On Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia.
When: In summer you can sit outside on the street, a center for media and advertising companies.
Bar: Yes, the hip Shochu Lounge is downstairs.
Private Room: No.
Sound level: Grab a table on the street if you want less than 75 decibels.
Sound-Level Chart (in decibels): 65-70: Office noise. 70-75: Starbucks. 75-80: London street. 80-85: Alarm clock at closest range. 85-90: Passing bus. 85-95: Tube train.
(Richard Vines is the chief food critic for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are his own.
This report is the first of the 2011 series of Bloomberg Dine & Deal. The weekly articles survey top cities and offer informed tips on good restaurants for business and pleasure.)