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 be 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.
In our office, we’ve started to use ‘getting a bit Circoloed’ as shorthand for ‘getting accidentally, but monumentally, pissed’. So it makes sense that this is the kind of restaurant where one hour becomes three, and three hours becomes an afternoon off and the worst hangover this side of your 20th birthday. This huge, somewhat ridiculous, trattoria in Fitzrovia has huge white stone booths for big groups, a sundae that comes tarted up with its own miniature light show, and the walls are decorated with thousands of entirely foreboding bottles of liquor. Just be sure to book a few weeks in advance since everything from the chocolate-heavy churros to the I Wanna Nduja pizza make this place crazy popular.
You could send in our childhood nemesis or a team of yodellers attempting Smells Like Teen Spirit and we still wouldn’t leave our table at Kama By Vineet. In fact, you’d probably need an actual fork lift to get us away from their chickpea chaat samosas and excellent butter chicken. Basically, this sophisticated Indian restaurant inside the Harrods’ dining hall has comfy seating, lychee martinis, and the kind of moody lighting that makes you feel like time is an unnecessary concept. Feel free to thank us when it’s almost 4pm and your boss heads upstairs to drunkenly decide whether a Burberry scarf would suit them whilst you get to head home.
If you’re able to reply to a single email after a trip to Gridiron (or breathe without sounding like one of your parents was a pug) then you’re doing it wrong. This upmarket steak restaurant inside Mayfair’s Como Metropolitan hotel serves some very decent meat, but it’s their endless stream of sides that’ll ensure everyone just keeps on eating until lifting a single finger to type feels like you’re shot-putting a baby elephant. Although this place can get really expensive, really quickly, you definitely want to order the beef dripping galette potatoes, sticky toffee pudding, and Tunworth mashed potato with braised trotter and crackling. In case you couldn’t tell, this isn’t a great spot for vegetarians.
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 non-pasta-related reasons 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.