Mr Porter Eats
Where To Eat The World’s Best Power Breakfasts
Because you won’t seal the deal over Cornflakes
Eggs Benedict at La Brasserie, The Fullerton Bay Hotel, Singapore. Photograph courtesy of The Fullerton Bay Hotel
It was Gordon Gekko who famously decreed – back in 1987, in the Mr Oliver Stone film Wall Street – that lunch was for wimps. And Gekko seemed to be prescient in this matter (less so in his view on the virtues of untrammeled greed).
Since the late 1980s, the TBL (“two-bottle lunch”, for the uninitiated) has indeed been dying an agonised death. These days, with the office but a smartphone buzz away and alcohol a mid-week no-no for most of us during work hours, the smart money is on the business breakfast.
The difficulty comes when choosing the right restaurant. Without the subtle lubrication of alcohol, things are a little trickier. What is needed is discretion, unobtrusive service, and a menu perfectly pitched to both impress and satisfy. Here we present our world-girdling guide to the restaurants that rank high on all those counts.
Four Seasons, Tokyo
Photograph courtesy of Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Marunouchi
The 57-room Four Seasons Tokyo at Marunouchi sits between the Imperial Palace and the metropolis’ main train station, which is ground zero of Japanese banking and technology, being surrounded by the headquarters of Mitsubishi, Nikko Citigroup and Hitachi. Unsurprising, then, that it draws international businessmen just off the red-eye like filings to a magnet. The seventh-floor restaurant, revamped by Mr André Fu – the starchitect behind the Upper House in Hong Kong and a host of other big-ticket projects – in 2015 in a vaguely art deco style, is bright, airy and devoid of flimflam. The service is as you’d expect from a Tokyo five-star: bend-over-backwards helpful. Bag a corner booth in the glass-walled Living Room overlooking the station for extra privacy and get to work on that deal. The menu, which runs the full gamut from traditional Japanese (fish, rice and home-made pickled vegetables) to international hotel favourites such as French toast (with a sweet wasambon sauce), is a pleasing diversion.
What to order: pillow-soft yuzu pancakes
What to wear
The Mark Hotel, New York City
Photographs by Mr Francesco Tonelli. Courtesy of The Mark Hotel
The really big deals are seldom cut on Wall Street anymore, but in the plush dining rooms of the Upper East Side, far away from prying ears of competitive bankers. The Mark Restaurant and Bar at the Mark Hotel at Madison and 77th is helmed by culinary higher divinity Mr Jean-Georges Vongerichten – he of innumerable Jean-Georges restaurants – and specialises in upscale French-American food, which roughly translates as: you can have truffle grated on any dish on the menu. Elbow aside the MOSCOT-wearing gallerists and nab one of the plush booths to encourage cross-talk during those M&A negotiations. Then, on the way out, make use of the John Lobb shoe-shine kiosk.
What to order: frittata with wild mushrooms, kale and parmesan
What to wear
Park Hyatt, Sydney
Photographs courtesy of Park Hyatt Sydney
When you mention the 155-room Park Hyatt, most people immediately talk about the peerless view of the harbour and the opera house and so on. But for those in the know, the Hyatt is all about one thing: breakfast. Skip the more formal Dining Room and head straight to the glass-walled, timber-floored Living Room and get a table near the window for superb views and maximum seclusion. The breakfast menu is long, heavy and unsparing with the calories, but never anything but delicious. Service is restrained and balletic. Bring your laptop, come for breakfast and stay for the rest of the day. You’ll be in good company – the mining company Arrium and just about every investment bank use this place as a canteen.
What to order: grilled sourdough, scrambled eggs and chorizo, fresh capsicum and wild rocket – if it is going to be a long day
What to wear
The Peninsula, Shanghai
Photograph courtesy of The Peninsula Shanghai
The jewel in the crown of the 10-strong The Peninsula Hotel group, the Shanghai outpost opened its doors in 2009. Situated on a bend in the Huangpu River, it has commanding views of the skyscrapers of the Pudong financial district – even from the glass-domed swimming pool – making it popular choice with CEOs in town for business as much as it is for local big wigs from Baosteel. Breakfast is served in the vast colonial-style lobby – created by Mr Pierre-Yves Rochon, who also did The Savoy in London – and features local favourites, such as duck crepes and xiaolongbao dumplings, as well as more familiar Western dishes such as eggs Benedict.
What to order: Shanghai crepes
What to wear
The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai International Financial Centre
Photograph courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company
The Ritz-Carlton was the first hotel inside the DIFC, and it remains the go-to place to shoot the breeze with colleagues after a long day toiling in the surrounding banks and real estate offices. Little wonder, too, given that it has two restaurants, two cafes and three bars to victual the workers from the 110-acre financial zone. Avoid the deal-hungry crowds, though, and head here in the morning. Book a table at Cake for breakfast and nibble on pastries, knocking back the best espressos in the UAE. The vibe is relaxed, the tables are well spread and you won’t need your smartphone to read the small print on that hot property deal.
What to order: Bircher muesli with apple, honey, natural yoghurt and fresh berries
What to wear
Darwin Brasserie at Sky Garden, London
Photographs courtesy of Rhubarb
The Darwin Brasserie sits like a crow’s nest at the top of 20 Fenchurch Street, the skewiff tower also known as The Walkie-Talkie, thus allowing hungry Masters of the Universe to quite literally, if not metaphorically, look down on the City below. The glass-sided, timber-floored dining room has views onto the Thames and is dominated by a large central table, which is usually full of slick suits from Skygarden’s neighbours – DWF LLP and Jane Street Capital – but if your team is big enough, it’s yours for the booking. For more intimate meetings, bag a table in the corner and get to work on a basket of pastries.
What to order: wild mushrooms on sourdough with Cotswold Legbar fried egg and spring onions
What to wear
The Fullerton Bay Hotel, Singapore
Photographs courtesy of The Fullerton Bay Hotel
When The Fullerton Bay Hotel opened in Singapore’s CBD in 2010, eyebrows went skywards. Was this glass-fronted edifice really necessary when the business breakfaster – or indeed luncher – already had the stately portals of the original neoclassical Fullerton Hotel to pass through? How many Fullertons did one square mile of Singapore need? Today, that’s all a distant memory. If you head to the Fullerton Bay’s La Brasserie at 9.00am, you’ll find the double-height room, with its glass and mirror walls, humming with the sound of Armani-suited oil executives discussing the latest price of crude as they make their way through the exceptionally fine eggs Benedict.
What to order: if you are feeling healthy, the Power Starter: yoghurt, granola and lots of fresh fruit; if you are playing it tough, plump for The New Yorker: eggs and bacon on rye toast