It’s possible to maintain solid business relationships via smart phones, e-mails, and LinkedIn messages, but never as satisfying as a good meal with a valued client. Among the Twin Cities impressive lineup of tried-and-true dining establishments, here are our top picks for delighting, disarming, or impressing your VIP clients and guests.
Table 54 at D’Amico Kitchen
Have a meeting that calls for Hollywood-style intrigue and professional intimacy? Ask for this curtained table just off the lobby. Table 25, in the corner near the fireplace, is another haute spot for strategic planning, people watching, and tweeting one’s highly desirable location. In the Le Meridien Chambers hotel, 901 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, 612-767-6960, damico-kitchen.com
Table 1 at Ciao Bella
To see, be seen, and be recognized by the Edina-Bloomington power crowd, request this centrally located table, a favorite of Steve Brown, senior vice president and managing director of NorthMarq’s health care advisory group. “While not an expert on feng shui, I have been told that table 1, which has good sightlines to all people coming in and out, incorporates a critical combination of positive and passive energies,” Brown says. 3501 Minnesota Dr., Bloomington, 952-841-1000, ciaobellamn.com
The window corner at 20.21
Dinner at the Walker Art Center offers out-of-towners a glamorous introduction to our artistically and architecturally impressive metropolitan area. Dramatically cantilevered out over an illuminated Hennepin Avenue with views of the city and an always-interesting crowd, the corner table is a favorite of Kevin DiLorenzo, CEO of Olson. 1750 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, 612-253-3410, wolfgangpuck.com
Table 69 at Manny’s
For the ultimate power meal, insist on this table, smack dab in the center of the room; yes, the innuendo is intentional. Another great spot is table 85 at the back, requiring a see-and-be-seen stroll through the dining room. High-testosterone humor, attitude, and sublime steaks keep local luminaries and visiting celebs coming back for more. 821 Marquette, Minneapolis, 612-339-9900, mannyssteakhouse.com
Easy Starts to the Day
Good Day CafÃ©
For a casual business breakfast, this colorful, high-energy cafÃ© is ideal. Regulars come for the consistently high-quality food and service (a critic calls the quiche “genre defining”) and a chance to see familiar faces from the metro’s small-business network. 5410 Wayzata Blvd., 763-544-0205, Minneapolis
St. Clair Broiler
Kari Canfield, president and executive director of the Midway Chamber of Commerce, charms VIP guests with breakfast at this classic diner. “The atmosphere, the attitude, and the great food always make guests feel special. Plus, it’s easy to talk, and we can take our time.” 1580 St. Clair Ave., St. Paul, 651-698-7055, stclairbroiler.com
The Original Pancake House
Don’t let the retirees fool you. This small town–style breakfast spot is full of low-key, low-profile execs from the nearby Fortune 500 companies who arrive early, roll up their sleeves, and dig into the latest biz intel, plus tangy sourdough flapjacks and hickory-smoked Canadian bacon. 3501 W. 70th St., Edina, 952-920-4444 and 901 Lake St. E., Wayzata, 952-475-9151, originalpancakehouse.com
Mission American Kitchen & Bar
Our local equivalent of New York’s Four Seasons Grill Room, this well-appointed restaurant is a magnet for investment bankers, attorneys, and downtown execs who love the sophisticated comfort food and attentive service. 77 S. 7th St., Minneapolis, 612-339-1000, missionamerican.com
Charm a client with a bowl of chicken noodle soup, the Thursday turkey special, and a slice of the legendary green apple pie. The look inside is classic Mad Men, but Peter’s has been open since 1914. 114 S. 8th St., Minneapolis, 612-333-1981, petersgrill.com
M Street CafÃ©
This downstairs cafÃ© in the Saint Paul Hotel is a quiet retreat. The European-style sideboard menu with prime rib, maple salmon, meat loaf, and other hearty specialties is a delicious alternative to the usual lunch fare. 350 Market St., St. Paul, 651-228-3855, mstcafe.com
Dinner Seals the Deal
Bar La Grassa
When you spot Punch Pizza co-owners John Soranno and John Puckett waiting for a table, you’ll know you’re in the right place for inventive and inspiring contemporary Italian food in a setting reminiscent of New York’s Tribeca scene. 800 N. Washington Ave., Minneapolis, 612-333-3837, barlagrassa.com
Vincent, A Restaurant
Katherine Roepke, president of Roepke Public Relations, says this classic French restaurant is her destination of choice for an elegant business dinner. “Brad and James, the charming bartenders, greet guests by name and magically remember wine preferences. The food is consistently delicious, the service is impeccable, and the convenient location with valet parking doesn’t hurt.” 1100 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, 612-630-1189, vincentarestaurant.com
A favorite of the St. Paul business crowd, this vibrant trattoria is perfect for convivial business conversations over wood-fired pizza, langostino risotto, and a bottle of Barolo. 360 St. Peter St., St. Paul, 651-223-7000, pazzaluna.com
Look Like a Star to Your Client
Parasole Restaurant Holdings division VP Randy Stanley tells how to do it at Manny’s.
1} Have your assistant call for a reservation, speak with a manager, and explain who your client is and what you’d like to accomplish at the meal. Or if possible, stop in and do this in person.
2} Call ahead when the day arrives to let the manager know what you’ll be wearing so you can be greeted like an old friend when you walk in the door.
3} If the VIP experience proves valuable, express your gratitude and tip the manager accordingly.
Dining for One: Alone But Not Lonely
Dining solo is more enjoyable in luxurious restaurants with thoughtful, attentive staff, unless you’re in a hurry or just want to be left alone. For business travelers in downtown Minneapolis, Zelo offers a welcoming bar with an interesting menu, and cozy booths for relaxing with a glass of wine, a good meal, and a book or magazine. Zelo, 831 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, 612-333-7000, zelomn.com