What’s ‘In’ At The Moment?

The days when the scene was small enough to have only a handful of ‘in’ restaurants have passed by. Nowadays, the question is rather: ‘in’ with whom? For the Dolce Vita crowd, the place of the moment is still whatever its other failings Cipriani. The media still regard The Ivy as something of a canteen, but Scott’s is starting to establish itself as the all-purpose see-and-be-seen destination. The fashion world is still somewhat taken with Sketch and Momo. The Wolseley is the ‘cafe’ to be seen at (especially for breakfast). J. Sheekey and in particular Le Caprice are ‘in’ with people who feel that being ‘in’ is trying a bit too hard.

For younger City and international types, the all-round appeal of Orientals such as Zuma, Roka, Hakkasan and Yauatcha remain very strong.

As for holding business meetings, the following establishments are recognised as the finest restaurants in which to conduct your business. NB: With the exception of ‘set meals,’ the price shown for each restaurant is the cost for one (1) person of an average three-course dinner with half a bottle of house wine and coffee, any cover charge, service and VAT. Lunch is often cheaper.

The Wolseley

  • 160 Piccadilly, W1 0117 499 6996
  • £54.00
  • “For sheer buzz” – Corbin & King’s “gloriously civilised” grand café, by the Ritz, is an all–hours “people–watching heaven” (and a “power scene” too); utterly “fabulous” breakfasts aside, though, realisation of its long and varied menu teeters on the brink of “average”. Midnight. Sun 11pm

The Don

  • 20 St Swithins Lane, EC4 0207 626 2606
  • £47.00
  • Near Bank, an “oasis of quality”, widely tipped as “the best place for business in the City”, thanks to its “relaxed” style, “well-executed” food, “superb” wine, and “attentive” staff; the cellar bistro is “more atmospheric” than the (recently extended) upstairs. 10pm; closed Sat & Sun; no trainers.

BLEEDING HEART

  • Bleeding Heart Yd, Greville Street, EC1 0117 242 8238
  • £47.00
  • “Hidden–away in an historic courtyard”, near Holborn, this amazing popular “all–rounder” – which comprises tavern, bistro and restaurant – is a “surefire winner” for business or romance; its “veeeery French” staff deliver “admirable” dishes and “splendid” wine in “dimly-lit” and “rustic” surroundings. 10pm closed Sat & Sun.

Coq dArgent

  • 1 Poultry, EC3 0207 395 5000
  • £58.00
  • “The roof garden is fantastic on a summer evening”, at the D&D group’s 6th-floor bar/restaurant, by Bank (and it enjoys some “stunning views too); it’s a venue that “works well for business”, despite “boring” food and sometimes “disorganised” service. 10pm; closed Sat lunch and Sun dinner; set always available £45.

1 Lombard Street

  • 1 Lombard Street, EC3 0207 929 6611
  • £80.00
  • A “great location for business entertaining”, opposite Bank, has helped make this former banking hall a top City rendezvous, if one priced firmly for “expense-accounters”; this year, however, saw a bizarre dive in standards across the board (and in both brasserie and the restaurant) 9.45pm; closed Sat & Sun; no trainers; booking essential.

The Square

  • 6-10 Bruton Street, W1 0207 495 7100
  • £88.00
  • “You’re sure to impress your client”, at this “very professional” and “formal” Mayfair venue thanks to Philip Howard’s “fantastically crafted” dishes and a “stupendous selection of wine”, despite all this excellence, though, the overall effect can seem a little “dull”. 10.45pm; closed Sat lunch and Sun lunch, set weekday lunch £48.

Smiths of Smithfield (Top Floor)

  • 67-77 Charterhouse Street, EC1 0207 251 7950
  • £58.00
  • Great rooftop views of St Pauls and Old Bailey distinguished the more spacious and less noisy top floor of this Smithfield landmark an ideal spot for power entertaining over some great steak; its priced for expense-accounters, though, and standards are sometimes underwhelming. 10.45pm; closed Sat lunch; booking max 10.

The Ivy

  • 1 west Street, WC2 0207 836 4751
  • £56.00
  • “Don’t knock it!”, say fans of this Theatre land legend, for whom despite increasingly “ho-hum” cooking – it remains an “always buzzing” favourite; nowadays, however, it can seem a bit of a “cliché” – “is it really worth paying through the nose just to rubber neck the odd soap star”. Midnight; booking: max 6; set Sun lunch £44.

The Goring Hotel

  • 15 Beeston Pl, SW1 0207 396 9000
  • £75.00
  • “For a smart lunch with grandpa”, nowhere could beat the “calm” dinning room of this “charmingly civilised” and “so very English” family-owned hotel, near Victoria; it is also particularly popular for business (and for “memorable” breakfasts too). 10pm; closed Sat lunch; jacket & tie; booking max 12.

Galvin Bistrot de Luxe

  • 66 Baker Street, W1 0207 935 4007
  • £44.00
  • With its “crisp” service of “gusty” Gallic fare in an “elegant” setting, the Galvin brothers’ “humming” two year-old, near Baker Street tube, is “a class act”. “a very safe bet for most occasions”, it has become a true benchmark, and has an enormous following. 11pm, Sun 9.30pm; set Weekday lunch £29; set dinner £32.

Rhodes 24

  • 25 Old Broad Street, EC2 0207 877 7703
  • £68.00
  • “Amazing Views” (“to impress any client”) help create “a professional environment for business”, at Gary Rhodes’s 24th floor City dining room, where the British grub is “totally consistent”, if “eye-wateringly priced”, NB: “allow extra time for lifts and officious security measures”. 9pm; closed Sat & Sun; no shorts; booking essential.