Brasserie Max at the Covent Garden Hotel is the one I use routinely for business - a casual European brasserie in the style of an upmarket country hotel. It's low-key and not something that will overwhelm you, but it offers a quality way of meeting up and is the perfect venue for an easy, private business meal.
I stumbled on it eight years ago. It was the well-regarded hotel near my office, and I went there to meet someone over coffee. Their coffee isn't as good as ours, of course, but it was a great environment for a drink. I saw the food and realised it would also be a good place for lunch.
I'm usually a salad or fish guy. I might go for fish entrees, and the brasserie does a good Caesar salad, as well as seasonal specials: hearty soups and suchlike. It also does a good steak and chips, if that's more your cup of tea.
Some brasseries are more bustling, but I've seen plenty of celebrities and business figures at Max's. Usually, they're trying to get away from the public eye to have a low-key discussion. Maybe that's a trend: people seem less willing to go into upmarket restaurants these days. Instead, they're picking and choosing their moments.
Covent Garden Hotel, 10 Monmouth Street, London WC2H 9HB, 020 7806 1000,
Three-course set menu £19.95
Classic Caesar salad £13.50
Fillet steak and bearnaise sauce £35
- Gerry Ford is chairman and CEO of Caffe Nero