Looking for the ultimate venue for a working lunch or dinner? You need a restaurant that asks not what the business crowd can do for it but what it can do for the business crowd. Suit-worthy style, food with air and waiters blessed with wine knowledge and wit are the markers of a dining establishment that truly knows (and deserves) its corporate clients.
As you can probably surmise from a restaurant that’s located in the heart of Melbourne’s legal district, Saxe is aiming squarely for the corporate jugular. Lucky, then, that even beyond the midnight-blue banquettes and wainscoted walls this newcomer’s aim is true. The technique-driven modern menu from owner-chef Joe Grbac (ex-Saint Crispin) showcases his obsessive Michelin training, while the drinks program – from inventive cocktails to low- intervention wines – matches it, course by elegant course.
Wilson & Market, Melbourne
Corporate old-timers are going to be misty-eyed over the return of Paul Wilson’s soft polenta with truffled egg and parmesan from his Botanical days. Newcomers will be thrilled about plenty more – the incredible roast chicken, for one, and impeccable raw seafood. Just like the Bot in its heyday, Wilson & Market (wilsonandmarket.com.au) in inner-city Prahran is a business magnet with all the bells and whistles (well-spaced tables, great drinks, exemplary service) that a business diner should expect.
A city like Sydney demands a sophisticated seafood restaurant perched on the water’s edge. Gold-plated restaurant duo Brent Savage and Nick Hildebrandt saw fit to deliver exactly that with the most recent addition to their stable, Cirrus (pictured at top), in Barangaroo. The menu is studded with big-ticket items (wild scampi caviar, lobster and a seafood platter) but the mission statement extends to humbler fruits de mer. As for the room, the fit-out by Pascale Gomes-McNabb is modern nautical complete with a ceiling- dwelling wooden boat.
The Bridge Room, Sydney | 2017 Winner
Ross Lusted knows just what makes Sin City’s suited crowd loosen its collective wallet. Seven years into his tenure at The Bridge Room, near Circular Quay, he’s marshalled a well-seasoned team of waiters, who are professional to the point of pomp, and a menu of extravagantly globe-trotting flavours that will please the most discerning culinary frequent flyer. On top of that, Lusted has triangulated one of Sydney’s foremost corporate experiences with a room of sleek lines punctuated with gentle outbreaks of personality (check out the accoutrement of napkins and ceramics, many made by the chef himself). This restaurant truly is a class act.
Restaurants don’t always travel well but the Brisbane incarnation of Sydney’s much-loved Otto is staking a claim to the northern city’s numero-uno status when it comes to work-related dining. The big-flavoured Italian food is unimpeachable (closely followed by an eminently likeable Oz-Italian wine list), while the real estate is pure Brisbane – the fourth-floor digs overlooking Story Bridge boast arresting views by day and night. Inside, the bold purple and magenta light fittings twirling lazily overhead, the linen-clad tables and the kinetic energy of the open kitchen make for a place to see and be seen.
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