The Euromoney guide to in-house dining
In order to facilitate contact-building, journalists are frequently invited to lunch at banks’ in-house dining facilities because of time constraints. Such invitations are often disappointing on the culinary front. However, a few banks’ invitations to dine in-house are met with eagerness rather than a sinking heart.
In the expectation that expense accounts will be put on a tighter leash in 2008 we thought we would do our bit to contribute to calls for greater transparency in financial markets and rate the bank dining experience. This is one end-of-year league table that bank clients, as well as financial journalists, will have a strong opinion about.
In line with established restaurant guides, Euromoney has ranked not just food, but also wine and the general ambience of the City’s dining rooms.
The typical menu gives a nod to Modern European cuisine, with options including the obligatory green salad starter and sea bass to follow.
The undoubted winner of London in-bank dining is Lehman Brothers. Ever since it moved from Broadgate Circle to Canary Wharf, the US bank has reached a standard that few others have matched consistently. The food is always great – and includes a healthy option (helpfully denoted by a green heart symbol on the menu alongside the dish). Add into the mix the classy glass of wine normally on offer, and great views of London and beyond, and the US bank gets two Euromoney stars.
Next on the list is Merrill Lynch which – according to various Euromoney journalists – is the best provider of food in the morning. There are also fantastic views from the terrace of London’s low-rise skyline in the west of the City – one star again.
Some banks did not receive any stars from Euromoney but would not have to work hard to get one. Goldman Sachs is the biggest money-making machine in finance but it takes a highly utilitarian approach to in-house entertainment.
Credit Suisse deserves a mention for turning around what used to be by far one of the worst dining experiences in the City. A puritanical attitude to alcohol persists but at least the food is edible these days. The same goes for BarCap, UBS and HSBC.
Candidates for Gordon Ramsay to do a makeover are unfortunately numerous. Citi offers a good fry-up in the morning but the US bank’s lunches have left Euromoney’s correspondents disappointed. And for a French bank that regularly holds some of the very best parties, the in-house dining experience at Société Générale is a conundrum: its London-based fare is perfunctory at best, and not a patch on the food and atmosphere of the bank’s in-house brasserie at La Défense. And we have no comment to make about JPMorgan because of a complete lack of invitations. We looked through the window once and it looked to be buzzing. Or was that the PizzaExpress next door?