Table Talk


Fashion designer and businesswoman

Favourite meeting place: The Merrion has remained at the top of my list since it opened its doors 20 years ago. It’s walkable from our headquarters on Merrion Square and if we are entertaining foreign press or clients we know we are guaranteed phenomenal but unobtrusive service. The hotel had been open a year when we started the work on our headquarters – I would say they could have charged me rent, because every meeting happened at The Merrion! On the menu: I have regular meetings with my accountant early in the morning. I love my breakfast and often choose the poached egg with soda bread and avocado. The investment the team has made in their food is very apparent. Top of my list at lunchtime is smoked salmon and soda bread, and I love their crab salads. We always recommend the bacon and cabbage for our overseas visitors. A lunch no-no: Somebody interrupting me, constantly asking me if everything is ok. I’m not shy about putting my hand up if there are any issues with service. I don’t like when it’s too noisy either, particularly for a work meeting, and I don’t like when tables are too close to each other. Downside to lunch: I like breakfast meetings because I’m an early riser and breakfast usually lasts an hour. It’s harder to find the time for lunch – it rarely takes less than 90 minutes. At my desk: I travel so much that when I’m back in Ireland, I often have lunch at my desk. However, I know the speed at which I can get in and out of the Cellar Bar at The Merrion and sometimes it’s good to get out and clear your head. If somebody from the office needs to have one-on-one time with me, it is good to take the time. We do frequently eat at our desks because there are great places in our area where we can pick up lunch, or have it delivered. I’m certainly not out for lunch five days a week! A drink at lunch?: I’m a champagne drinker and my favourite champagne is Ruinart. If we were hosting something and if the guest wanted a glass I’d certainly join them, but more often than not drinking with lunch is pretty rare.


Chief financial officer,FBD Insurance

Favourite place: We go to Avoca in Rathcoole if we want to eat locally, but in town I go somewhere like the Cellar Bar in The Merrion, a place where you can have a confi dential conversation. If there’s a group, elsewhere would be better, for example, places like CHQ or Ely Wine Bar. I don’t have a particular haunt. On the menu: I’m a light eater at lunchtime. I like a Caesar salad or duck salad, something nutritious and healthy. I try to stay away from steak and chips. It would be unusual to have a drink at lunchtime. I think the culture in business is very much to stay away from it now, compared to a number of years ago. The essentials: Service is important, particularly when you’re on a tight schedule on a work day. To get in and out reasonably effi ciently is important. If the service isn’t good, it’s not going to work. Location is important – it takes me half an hour to get into town, half an hour to get out, so it’s quite a large chunk of the day. Minimising that travel time is important to me. The guests: Our guests are people we do business with, those who are providing services to us, or customers. I wouldn’t normally have lunch with colleagues from the company unless someone was leaving. If we’re bringing a customer out, we pay the bill. A lunch no-no: In terms of food, I don’t like Japanese. In terms of service, rudeness and not being treated well as a customer really turns me off.


Managing director of Jaguar Land Rover Ireland

Favourite place: I like to drop into Avoca, near Rathcoole. It’s informal but the food is good and you can always fi nd a nice quiet corner if you’re there for a business meeting. They serve good coffee too. On the menu: I usually go for something like a Caesar salad. I think they do it very well there. In this role you tend to have a lot of meetings where you’re eating, so during the day I tend to choose a salad, or something reasonably light. The guests: I rarely meet clients for lunch. I meet my business partners, the various dealers in the retail side, management teams etc. Clients would usually be an evening entertaining thing rather than a lunchtime thing. The dealbreaker: There are two things I look for: ease of access and good parking. That rules out town to a degree. I would rarely be in there and if I am it’s a bit of a chore to get around, to be honest. A lunch no-no: I don’t like going somewhere where it’s loud and noisy. I’m usually sitting talking to people so I like to fi nd a quiet corner. Loud music would be an absolute no-no for me, and bad coffee. At my desk: I’m happy enough to have lunch at the desk but it is nice to eat out and it’s certainly, from a business point of view, a very nice relaxed way to do business. The business I’m in, I do quite a bit of driving, so it’s nice to be able to pull in somewhere and have a nice quiet bite.