There is but one rule when it comes to the wine list, no matter how humble or how grand: order what you want to drink, at a price you are happy to pay (or not too unhappy, at least). House wines, in a decent place, can often be the best bet (particularly red, and even more particularly Italian) as the restaurant will have tasted a fair few before they lit upon this example, and – because they expect to sell a lot of it – will have negotiated a very good price for bulk, the benefit of which in part they will be passing on to you.
THE BUSINESS LUNCH
Over lunch, you can get a lot done by the time the coffee arrives. And in the old days of repeated rounds of brandy and cigars... well! Mountains were moved, and planets conquered. Because a properly conducted business lunch in the right sort of restaurant actually does work – whereas at an office meeting, where everyone will idly twiddle their pens and glance periodically at their winking mobiles while pretending to respect the others' wildly divergent viewpoints, the only resolution can ever be the tabling of yet another bloody meeting.
Dinner and lunch are rather different creatures. Lunch is taken at a time of day when one is relatively fresh – and hence the popularity of business lunches. A business dinner, on the other hand, is more of a self-congratulatory sprawl: the work is over, the deal is done and now we can go and get gloriously and expensively blotto because all we have to do afterwards is sleep.
The A-Z of Eating Out by Joseph Connolly is published by Thames & Hudson at £16.95.