It's just such a great place, bright and bustling, and there are boxes of fresh herbs growing outside, and tomatoes ripening in the sun. Getting the smells of Italy is amazing for that part of London. And the food is so distinctive: scallops the size of small tea-cakes, succulent and beautifully cooked; calamari, carpaccio and wonderful fresh polenta; and simple things like chicken, roasted for a particular flavour in a wood-burning stove. But you won't get much change out of a couple of hundred pounds.
It was close to media luvvie centres. Every Friday, the big table in the corner would be occupied by Alan Yentob and his acolytes. One day, they all streamed in and one of the party was Salman Rushdie. There was Rushdie having this long lunch, soon after the fatwa. Sitting at a nearby table for two were these enormous men with bulging arm-pits, in suits, looking like they just wanted fish and chips.
When it comes to business lunches, a good venue will have a balance of light and rich dishes, unobtrusive service, and the space to spread yourself out. You need the option of staying all day - to start with the small talk and move on to business as it develops. The River Cafe has it all.
THE RIVER CAFE
Thames Wharf, Rainville Road, London W6 9HA, 020 7386 4200, www.rivercafe.co.uk
Average price, three courses: £48 a head
Favourite dishes: Carpaccio di manzo £14, Calamari ai ferri (chargrilled squid with Scottish sea kale) £14, chargrilled Scottish scallops with deep fried artichokes £27
Rob Shreeve is chief executive of One Alfred Place.