1. The Wolseley
Opened by Christopher Corbin and Jeremy King in 2003, the team that is widely credited with turning The Ivy into the premier media haunt that it is, The Wolseley has rapidly become one of adland's key rendez-vous. The chatter in the dining room is loud, the atmosphere comfortable rather than stuffy. But crucial to the restaurant's success has been its breakfast appeal. The rise of the breakfast meeting, as well as a healthy smattering of celebrity diners, is a wellspring of The Wolseley's success. Regulars include CHI & Partners' Sarah Gold and The Red Brick Road's Paul Hammersley.
2 The Ivy
Most restaurateurs can only dream of creating a venue with the enduring appeal of The Ivy. Its Soho location, impeccable service and comfortable atmosphere attract news readers, big-cheese media owners and adland chums in abundance at lunchtime. It's a people-watching paradise. The opening of The Ivy's private members club this month seems set to tighten the restaurant's grip on the media market. Beattie McGuinness Bungay's Trevor Beattie, head hunter Gay Haines, VCCP's Charles Vallance and Karmarama's Nicola Mendelsohn are among its fans.
Mayfair's Scotts relaunched in its original guise as a seafood restaurant and oyster bar to loud applause in 2005. Once the favourite haunt of Bond creator Ian Fleming, the 21st-century Scotts has secured itself a leading place on the business-lunch circuit. Heavy hitters Philip Green and Peter Jones were spotted lunching together there recently. From its bowler-hatted doorman to its immaculate table settings, it has a formal atmosphere that sets it apart from some of the more media-focused haunts. The restaurant is much loved by McCann Erickson's Chris McDonald, Archibald Ingall Stretton's Stuart Archibald, and TBWA\London's Tim Lindsay.
Just down the road from Scotts, George occupies an impressive corner spot in the centre of Mayfair. The place exudes exclusivity, yet manages to avoid an overly stuffy atmosphere. It's part of Mark Birley's empire, which includes Annabel's and Harry's Bar, so it's members only. The fare is Italian, the people-watching serious, especially if you know your European royalty. Kings, queens and prime ministers are known to put in appearances. Sir Martin Sorrell is said to be a regular, as is M&C Saatchi's Bill Muirhead and Sir Frank Lowe. It's very expensive, so beware.
Once the only place to be seen if you worked in media, Langan's went off the boil for some years. But the media world, particularly the agency fraternity, appears to have put the Dover Street venue back on speed dial. The restaurant is huge, and perpetually full. More than the other venues on this list, you'll witness some all-day, wine-fuelled lunch extravaganzas. As such, it's a bit of a throwback to the 80s, but there's nothing wrong with that every once in a while.
6 The Connaught
Gordon Ramsey and Angela Hartnett's Italian flavour has been shipped out, and The Connaught has returned to French fare under Hélène Darroze. It makes this list because dealmakers love a panelled room, and the restaurant has an air of importance and discretion. Adland's bigwigs are already checking it out, but whether it becomes a regular fixture will only become clear over the next 12 months. Reviews rave about the food, but concur on overly fussy service ("Would you prefer salted or unsalted butter with your bread?").
7 St Alban
Launched to much fanfare in 2006, St Alban hasn't quite become the number-one alternative to The Ivy that many thought it would. Set up by Corbin and King, its central location, just off Piccadilly Circus, is a real bonus. The menu, with its strong Spanish influence, is unlike any other on the circuit. It ranges from pizza to Sardinian fish stew. BLM's Steve Booth and Charlie Makin are regulars, as is ISBA's Debbie Morrison. McDonald rates it, saying: "I did get some extra money out of a client over lunch there once."
This up-market Spanish tapas bar is a big hit with media and ad agencies. The food is good and the atmosphere informal, but most important of all is its geography. It's a stone's throw from CHI & Partners, Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy, ZenithOptimedia and the rest of the Fitzrovia contingent. It's rare not to ?recognise at least five faces in ?any lunchtime visit.
Like Fino, Roka is in the heart of "new adland" and really reaps the benefit. Unlike Fino, the fare is a little bit healthy, so perhaps it has the edge over its Spanish rival among the diet conscious. Roka's downstair bar is also a regular haunt, popular as a 5.30 rendez-vous for more informal meetings, which often turn into big nights out.
10 The Caprice
The flagship brand in Caprice Group Holdings (owner of The Ivy, Scott's, J Sheekey and others) has a loyal following. The slightly dated interior is part of the attraction, as is the people-watching. Expect to see the likes of Peter Stringfellow, Michael Winner and, er, M&C Saatchi's Moray MacLennan.