It's getting harder and harder to carve out a mid-day slot for a professional lunch, but business doesn't stop. Enter the working breakfast. Not to be confused with the "power breakfast," the new working breakfast is all about a discrete accessible place you can meet, discuss business, eat semi-healthily (or at least pretend to) and then get to your respective offices. Your aim is something that's north of a diner and south of a full-on scene. The National in NYC—with a menu by Geoffrey Zakarian (Lambs Club)—gets the tone and menu just right. So does the Wolseley in London, which sits at an incredibly central location. Occupying a former bank on Piccadilly, it feels like a grand European hotel, only better. You know what else is great about the breakfast meeting? Get known by the restaurant staff in the morning and tables for lunch and dinner become easier at both.
If You Like:
The National 557 Lexington Avenue, NYC
Setting: Rustic, deeply-urban brasserie
Food: Polished modern-bistro fare
Noise Level: Just right
Bar: Great Bloody Marys
Date Factor: Stick to business
Secrets: Everyone wants a booth. Ask when you reserve. Wait for them to tell you "they'll try," and then have a crisp $20 ready in the morning.
Then Try These:
Balthazar (New York): Beloved of the cognoscenti, as well as super fun and delicious. Still, it's really a haven for publishers and the like, not finance types.
The Nomad (New York): This is where the new elite meet. Roughly between Penn Station and almost everywhere, it gets points for location, food quality and style.
Holborn Dining Room (London): Des McDonald, formerly of Le Caprice, knows a thing about busy executives. This is the best Wolseley-like experience near the City.
Hawksmoor Guildhall (London): Not only the best-overall for food, but I bet more deals get done here than any board or meeting room anywhere in the world.
Maialino (New York): Part of both the Union Square Hospitality/Danny Meyer world, and the hotel empire of Ian Schrager, this has become closest to the traditional 'Power' scene at the Regency on Park Avenue. Go to either only if you want to be seen.