There’s a kind of lunch where one hour becomes two, and it’s another 30 minutes before desserts are even being ordered. Not considered. Ordered. It’ll basically be rush hour soon. There’s really no point going back to work... This, friends, is the sack off lunch.
Sometimes it’s an office birthday. Other times it’s an anniversary. Maybe it’s a Friday. Occasionally, it’s just because. But the point is not that it happens. The point is that this can be gently, expertly, engineered with the right restaurant suggestion. The type that enables whoever’s in charge to think: sod it. These are the restaurants you should be going to when you want lunch to run long.
Nothing, absolutely nothing, says ‘none of us have any intention of going back to the office’ like a pre-planned, week in advance, whole suckling pig from St. John, does it? Trust us, we’re speaking from experience. This is not a meal that fuels an afternoon of productivity. If you’re not up for a whole pig though, there are still plenty of other options to choose from that will guarantee a very long and very lazy lunch.
Soho is London’s undisputed, heavyweight champion of the knockout lunch. L’Escargot - its oldest French restaurant - is one of the best places to do it. A casual order of 12 snails alongside a snailgroni should get you on your way, and following that with some chateaubriand or confit duck should finish the job.
This Indian BBQ playhouse in the City pretty much guarantees that the majority of the team will be merry from the cocktails on tap and a four-pint growler of beer, before the bone marrow biriyani (a must order) even turns up. A lot of the food here - that trough of rice included - is very hard to say no to. And that’s exactly how your manager will feel when someone suggests it’s not really worth heading back to the office.
One Lunch to rule them all, One Lunch to bind them, One Lunch to bring them all, and in the daytime undermine them. This is what your colleagues may or may not chant at you after you book Noble Rot. This wine bar and restaurant has the power to ensnare anyone, and you don’t even have to drink. Though you’ll me missing out if you don’t. The wine bar up front is perfect for both pre and post meal drinks, and the dining room itself is like a public members club that serves the best bread in London (alongside other excellent plates). Yes, you are the Lord of the Lunches.
There are some menus that you read and just think: phwoar. They’re the kind that make you feel a bit bleary-eyed. You’ll read ‘stilton mousse’ and then ‘creamed fish pie’ and realise that you’re set for a lunch to end all lunches. That’s why Maggie Jones’s in Kensington is such a good choice for the kind of good food and good wine that leads your superior to make a bad decision.
Nothing compels a human being like that little three letter word, posed as a question. You know the one we’re talking about. The one that gets your heart racing. The one that can make you feel a bit funny. The one that anyone will cancel and rearrange a day around. So next time someone asks that simple one word question ’pub?’ - go to The Drapers Arms. It’s one of London’s finest, and the ideal location for whiling away an afternoon. The food is hearty, the drinks menu extensive, and a sofa available.
Pollen Street Social is one of the more subtle enablers of the long lunch that we know. This fine dining restaurant doesn’t feel the need to ply you with booze, it’s comfortable and calm, and it just gently erases the hours of the day in a way that doesn’t feel like you’ve been imprisoned by somebody with a foam obsession. The three course set lunch is reasonably priced (£37) but also excessive (there are more courses than advertised). It’s exactly what you’re looking for when you want your lunch hour to stretch to two or even three.
A lunch-only restaurant in the City that serves booze out of pewter tankards says two things to us: signet rings and nap-time. Sweetings has been doing this for over a century. It’s a seafood restaurant from a different era. When prawn cocktails were a delicacy, when a pint of Guinness and champagne got the juices flowing, and when lunches were long, drawn out precursors to dinner.
We’re generally fans of natural light. But in this extremely tactical situation, natural light is not your friend. Natural light is a tell. Natural light could lead to the realisation it’s Tuesday, not Saturday, and there are things to do and people to see. So that’s why you go to Bocca Di Lupo. It’s one of London’s stalwart Italian restaurants, and, importantly, it’s not a big fan of natural light. It’s one of the many reasons, not pasta related, why this place became a Soho classic in no time.
What’s that? Oh no. You’re right. Everyone stinks of barbecued meat after our excellent meal at Smokestak. Gosh, I didn’t think of that when I organised it. That beef brisket made it worth it though, didn’t it? Yes, and that beetroot. Agreed, probably best for everyone to go home. We don’t want to have to get the office fumigated do we? See you online in an hour or so.