In my first job i was expected to wear a formal suit every day and I remember being measured up for my first, and best suit (with waistcoat), before starting work in the City. My other two suits were donated by older brothers.
Formal manners of business and professional life were in transition back then; bowler hats were losing popularity but were still seen frequently along Cheapside. Business lunches still had the stuffy and indulgent air of a gentleman’s club – younger professionals, women and others were rarely invited to share in the power and benefits of the company Visa account.
In the nineties things were changing but it wasn’t until the internet, technology and fast money makers overthrew the traditional order of things, that the respect for formality over profit fell away. If you resisted wearing a suit it demonstrated an independence, creativity and a confidence. You were just as likely to be super successful if you were dressed in jeans and a t-shirt and carried a disregard for the old order of things. Restaurants, hotels, everywhere began opening their doors to the casually dressed who had their own Visa cards – dining tables were more likely to be cluttered with laptops than cigars and brandy.
The heart busting food and old-school snobbery was out. Today we enjoy tea, expect to see vegetarian and vegan options on the menu and demand a far more egalitarian atmosphere over lunch than even ten years ago. Now a working lunch is everybody’s business.
At Constancia there’s always something light and fresh on the menu but if you have a little more time for your business lunch this restaurant has a menu that is sure to impress.
Open at lunchtimes on Thursdays and Fridays, Constancia is a perfect place to settle down with a quality Argentine red wine and pick one of their extraordinary steaks to be cooked on the open charcoal parrilla, like the 11oz Rib-Eye, 14oz Sirloin or 10oz Fillet. Set menus are £14.95 for two courses and £18.45 for three courses so you can entertain your colleagues and be sure that everyone present is fully satisfied.
52 Tanner Street
020 7234 0676
When the home office becomes lonely or you need to escape the cramped, noisy office then you can always head along to Bermondsey Square Hotel and enjoy a working lunch in the unique lounge area of ‘At Home’.
Settle down in either the sitting room, TV area, library, dining room and (subject to the weather) patio. There are plenty of power sockets, including USB connections and complimentary super-fast 100mb fibre-optic Wi-Fi. The Bermondsey Square Hotel doesn’t charge a membership fee and from 11am – 5pm, 7 days a week, help yourself to tea or filter coffee free of charge. The food is always fabulous too.
Bermondsey Square Hotel
Tower Bridge Road, SE1 3UN
020 7378 2450
If you want to stop off for an informal business meeting in London, it’s good to know where those hidden havens of calm are likely to be. Quarter Bar & Lounge, just footsteps from London Bridge Station and The Shard, is a sophisticated bolt-hole attached to the discreet and luxury London Bridge Hotel.
By night, jazz music, cocktails and spirits rule the roost but by day, this chic, contemporary venue offers a sanctuary for those in search of connectivity and casual social dining. Eat at the bar, in a banquette or even in an armchair with complimentary Wi-Fi on tap. It’s the perfect urban oasis.
Quarter Bar and Lounge
London Bridge Hotel
8-18 London Bridge Street, SE1 9SG
020 7855 2296
Nothing competes with the comfort and atmosphere of a pub to relax people and the Dean Swift has plenty of experience of hosting local and international customers looking to get that relaxed pub feel for a meeting. People want ‘the pub experience’ and to sample the British culture of craft beer and pub classics but also restaurant standard cookery and service, including dishes like Roast Cod, Confit Duck and Steak Salad.
For those who want to get the whole gang down for a meeting the upstairs dining room can be hired for up to 30 people.
Keep up to date with what’s on the menu at Twitter (@DeanSwiftSe1)
10 Gainsford Street
Butler’s Wharf, SE1 2NE
020 7357 0748