Power lunches are a classic, time-tested way to butter up a potential client and help grease the wheels towards sealing a deal.
What else could make talking business more pleasant than a hefty pour of wine, a gorgeous plate of food, and the alluring ambience of the perfect restaurant?
Of course, figuring out where to go for that important lunch meeting is not necessarily an easy task. There are several factors at play, and one egregious misstep could completely ruin your chances of closing the deal.
Here's a rundown of a few things you should look for before you pick a restaurant for your power lunch, as well as some recommendations for good go-to's in a few popular business-oriented cities.
1. Great service. It doesn't really matter if the food is amazing if the people serving it to you aren't well-practiced in the art of good service. You want to find a spot that places flawless service right up there with the quality of what it's serving.
Most restaurants that are frequented by business diners understand this. Their servers are observant and discreet -- they know when to come by and check in, and when to leave you alone to discuss business matters.
If you're unfamiliar with a restaurant, you should call ahead to find out if they have a lot of parties in for business meals. You should also check out reviews online to find out whether the ambiance is appropriate.
2. Appealing food. There's no question the food should taste good. But pinpointing what type of cuisine to choose is the big challenge. It's no good if you pick an amazing restaurant, complete with glamorous setting and flawless service... if your lunch date absolutely detests the genre of food they're serving.
If you don't know what kind of food the person you're meeting with prefers, American-style cuisine is generally a safe bet. You usually can't go wrong with a steak-and-seafood option; they're the power-lunch classic. Of course, it's not a bad idea to run your choice by them, just in case they turn out to be vegetarian.
3. Great atmosphere. A power lunch should provide a great setting for your deal, so pick a place that's impressive. A professional ambiance and beautiful decor can go a long way in enhancing your dining experience.
This doesn't necessarily mean you have to go a 5-star, big-name kind of joint (although those usually work.) Often, you can get just the same effect (and a more unique one) with a great little restaurant that's off the beaten path. Extra points if you introduce your lunch date to their new favorite restaurant.
Now, a few solid choices for power lunches in several business-centric cities, as recommended by local food critics and bloggers:
If you're in New York City, check out Cipriani Wall Street, The Grill Room at the Four Seasons Restaurant, Gotham Bar and Grill, or Balthazar.
If you're in Los Angeles, check out Spago, Pizzeria Mozza, The Grill on the Alley, or Craft Los Angeles.
If you're in Chicago, check out Blackbird, Keefer's, Sepia, or Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab.
If you're in London, check out the Harwood Arms, The Hawksmoor, The Ledbury, or Corrigan's Mayfair.