For me, a weekday lunch falls into three categories:
1. Nip out, buy something within 5-10 minutes walk, come back, eat it at your desk (82%).
2. Lunch with mates. You go out for an hour or so and sit down, but you know you’ve got to be back at your desk soon after and you don’t go over one or two pints of cooking lager (17%).
3. Long, luxurious lunches that are paid for by someone else as a thank you, celebration etc. (>1%)
Now that I work within spitting distance of Soho (literally; sorry to that bloke on Shaftesbury Avenue who got a grolly on the shoulder of his pac-a-mac) I have an enormous choice of wondrous comestibles from around the world. I’m a big fan of Yalla Yalla, the Beirut street food restaurant, although I have to say that I mainly go to Leon on Old Compton Street. Then there’s a great Japanese, Kyoto, on Romilly Street, the whole of Chinatown and roughly 457,967 burrito joints within a few hundred yards.
Spoilt, that’s what I am.
But it wasn’t always thus: when I worked at AMV there wasn’t much beyond two M&Ss and the Pret on Baker Street (I never really went to the Baker Street KFC, McDonald’s or BK). The situation has since improved with at least an EAT, but back in the late nineties I used to walk up to Selfridges and go to the EAT in the food hall (EAT has been far and away my consistent favourite over the years).
Then I moved, first to Goodge Street, which had the Tottenham Court Road EAT and Busaba/Charlotte St/Salt Yard for more extravagant occasions, then to Spitalfields, which has Verde, my favourite sandwich bar in London. It makes a Turkey with cranberry sauce that is substantial enough to have half at lunchtime and the other half as a four o’clock snack. Spitalfields also has a Leon, but I was a big fan of the Italian place opposite Verde, which makes a ridiculously good prosciutto and mozzarella toastie, something I usually combined with a bar of chocolate from Montezuma.
Having worked in 15-20 other places over the last two years, I’d recommend the following: Lowe is near the EAT on King’s Road, but Bibendum makes a very good, reasonably priced sandwich in its little forecourt cafe; 180’s food situation is a bit crap because it’s in Amsterdam, but the soup place whose name I’ve forgotten, and the Italian deli, whose name I’ve forgotten, were both excellent; Saatchis London has the Tottenham Court Road EAT but also an Itsu, which I’m very keen on; and that brings me to 4Creative, which also has a walkable Itsu, EAT and a good Lebanese place on the way to St James’s Park; JWT was Wasabi for a while, but the heat of their chicken soup thing is unpredictable, which made me go back to the EAT on Knightsbridge; when I squatted at Coy! for a while I really liked Pho on Great Titchfield Street, and then at Dentsu, which was broadly in the same area, I often went for a burrito at Tortilla on Market Place (often with Stephen Gash, whose production company is above it); RKCR/Y&R is quite close to my home, so I know that Camden High Street is pretty dodgy, sending me running into the dependable arms of Pret or EAT; M&C Saatchi was Leon, but in the neighbourhood I sometimes met Simon Veksner at the Mongolian place on Kingly street, which made a nice change.
What do you do and where do you go (international comments and contributions very welcome indeed)?