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Westside spot for business-meeting drinks?

Hi all.

I'm looking for a place to go for drinks in the late afternoon/early evening on a weeknight to talk business with a client -- Westside, hopefully close to the 405 (Century City, eastern part of Santa Monica, and other mostly West environs are all O.K.). Here's what I'm hoping to find:

* Because it's a semi-meeting situation, we need to be able to hear each other, and need to have a table, not sit at a bar ... but still probably just ordering drinks (don't know if she'll want a bite, too, but she asked to meet for "drinks").
* I don't know the woman I'm meeting very well, but she seems pretty down-to-earth. I don't want a dive -- but don't want overly swanky.
* Neither of us is under 40 years old (I think) and I'm a man finding a place to meet a woman client. This means I'm hoping for a place that isn't too intimate, dimly lit,etc. Also means I'd like a place where we won't be the only ones in there, yet isn't so loud that we can't hear ourselves. Not too stuffy, not so hip that if you're over age 32, you can't get a seat.

A colleague suggested the W Hotel, but the one time I was there on a weeknight, the bar and restaurant area was pretty empty, which makes it awkward. If anyone has been there more recently, I'd love to hear.

Any opinions about Westside Tavern during the week? I've only ever seen it on weekends, packed with movie goers.

I would normally default to Culina and the nice bar-lounge area at the Four Seasons, but then I run into a place that might be too swanky and, on a weeknight, might be pretty empty. (Tried Smith House once, but went for lunch and wasn't impressed. Seems like later afternoon would be a dead time there.)

I'm relatively new to Los Angeles and know this is a tall order, but whenever I've searched this site, Chowhounds haven't let me down. I feel like I know these spots in other cities, but not here.

A million thanks in advance for any ideas!

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  1. THe Honor Bar at the South Beverly Grill would be perfect. Its at Beverly Drive just south of Wilshire.


    Another choice, is Bandaras. Its on Wilshire just west of the 405.

    Of the two I would probably go with Honor Bar, but both serve your needs.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Thor123

      +1 for the Honor Bar. A great choice. Sounds exactly what he is looking for. Upscale but not elegant. Not a 20 year old hipster place, either. They have their own valet lot next door so parking is convenient. The W Hotel bar can be empty. Craft is a good suggestion too.

    2. You might find X Bar at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza a good fit for your meeting: http://www.xbarla.com/

      1. i used to regularly host those kind of meetings at the lounge in Cafe del Rey in the Marina.
        they have semi-circular booths which allow for a lot of privacy.
        valet parking lot in front.

        good list of wine-by-the-glass.
        full bar.

        they have a bar menu, but if you'd rather, they will serve you food from the regular menu before ( 2:30 and after 5:30) as well

        13 Replies
        1. re: westsidegal

          Good suggestion by the Westside Gal. Especially if the business to discus is more personal than enterprising.

          1. re: Baron

            actually, having booths can be very handy in terms of creating a "personal space" between the two people so that a purely business meeting doesn't feel ambiguous. also, the booths create a little "sound privacy" so that everything you say is not necessarily going to be heard by the people at the next table.

            for "personal" meeting for drinks, i'd recommend sitting on one of the couches in front of the fireplace instead of sitting at a booth.

            1. re: westsidegal

              I like booths too. Great quiet booths at the restored Matteo's.

              1. re: Baron

                I would be scared to go to Matteo's if I wanted to impress the client.

                  1. re: Baron

                    IMO the food at Mateo's has long ago declined to the point where there are so many better choices it does not bear mention. I must say that I have not seen the re-model, but in its former form, it was dated and again IMO not what I would want to project for a business dinner/drinks.

                    1. re: Thor123

                      Thanks for the explanation. You might want to take a look at the makeover. The room is quite beautiful and the food is very good as is the service. I was there last week. It does seem to cater to a "mature" crowd who like a quiet and comfortable experience. We got there early but when we left the place was full on Saturday night. Felt good to visit an old friend.

                  2. re: Thor123

                    Thanks for all the great suggestions. To answer one question: The business discussion is definitely business! So if that affects the recommendations, please let me know.

                    I went to Cafe Del Rey a few years ago, before I moved here, and I'm thinking it wouldn't be as conducive to business because it seems like a date kind of place. But I agree, booths can be very good for personal space, as long as they're not the corner round ones, which would make it really weird.

                    Matteo's might be too far afield for me, but I'm also curious as to why it wouldn't be impressive.

                    Thanks again, all!

                    1. re: Stuartla

                      it is true, i have been to cafe del rey on dates.
                      i have also been to cafe del rey for many business meetings
                      and for celebratory meetings (with a study group to celebrate passing our licensure exams)
                      and for catching up with old friends
                      and for going alone for a drink
                      and for taking my daughter out to congratulate her on getting a job she was after
                      and for going out with my girlfriends
                      and for a sanity break when my kitchen was being remodeled

                      the arc shape of the booths never once interfered with a business meeting, and on several occasions it really helped because we were able to spread out our paperwork on the extra table space.

                      1. re: westsidegal

                        +1 for Cafe del Rey. Good luck with your meeting. We've been having some beautiful sunsets about 5:30.
                        (still waiting to hear why Thor123 finds Matteo's "scary") Maybe he/she is in the witness protection
                        program. :-).....Mattoe's once had the rep as a hangout for some "well connected" individuals.

                        1. re: westsidegal

                          this is almost like your multi-purpose joint, wg.

                          i've only been for brunch one, and it was good, though expensive by my standards but still good and kind of convenient to lax.

                          1. re: kevin

                            their bar is still terrific.
                            the food, imho, has suffered since jason and carlos left.

                            the point that i was trying to make was that imho, the vibe in the lounge is not one that only works for romantic trysts.

            2. Tavern in Brentwood (not the Westside Tavern) should fit the bill nicely, or perhaps Craft in Century City as I seem to recall some bar tables there as well.

              8 Replies
              1. re: New Trial

                Thanks for the great recommendations, all. This is a good enough client that I'm going to scout these out first to see which one fits best.

                  1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                    Do you know if Craft has tables for the bar area? Location sure is perfect and I went once for dinner and it was great. Would the drink scene seem as over-the-top? I'm just remembering the prices at dinner, which were very high. Wouldn't bother me for dinner, but don't want client to be put off; I'm thinking of her down-to-earth vibe.

                    Thanks again to all for the great ideas.

                    1. re: Stuartla

                      anyplace with a down-to-earth vibe is not, imho, going to work for a business discussion.
                      down-to-earth means much more crowded, much noisier, less civilized, young crowd, and possibly very dim lighting.
                      if you want down-to-earth, think gastropub.
                      if you go to a down-to-earth place after 7 or so, don't expect to find a seat.

                      also, low prices often will attract a younger crowd--young enough so that you may find yourself being the oldest person in the room.

                      1. re: westsidegal

                        Sage advice. Thanks. It's a tough line I'm trying to straddle -- not overly swanky, but not a beer hall/hipster -- and I see your point. Really appreciate all of you chow hounds with the great ideas and thoughtful, respectful debates.

                        1. re: Stuartla

                          if i were you, i'd probably just suck it up and accept that there are practically no civilized places for middle-aged people to discuss business that are "down-to-earth" and offer cheap drinks.

                          pick one. cheap and down-to-earth OR civilized with enough space and quiet enough to be appropriate for a business discussion.

                          you've already been given a number of terrific choices for a business meeting between mature adults type of place.

                          if you want cheap drink, gastropub, happy hour with no assurance of a seat, type of place, just let us know. i'm sure we can come up with a list for those as well.

                        2. re: westsidegal

                          Just go to the piano lounge at the Beverly Wilshire or even the Polo Lounge.

                        3. re: Stuartla

                          I think they do have tables in the bar area. Not sure what you mean by if the drink scene would seem as over the top -- they have less of a bar scene than most places I know. It's a mostly professional crowd, very business like. Attorneys and agents abound.

                    2. Wilshire is a very nice restaurant on the south side of Wilshire at about 25th -- the eastern part of Santa Monica. It has its own valet parking lot, with a charge. When you enter from the east side, the bar area is to your right, a separate room with a bar along the west wall and tables wrapping around the east and north. Their large dining room and patio are off to the left (south). You can order food from the bar area. There are a couple of TVs in back of the bar, but there is a mature vibe with good service and it is not too loud.

                      1. Strangely, the first place that popped into my mind is Barney Greengrass, inside Barneys (Beverly Hills).

                        Second vote goes to Craft (Century City).

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: J.L.

                          Very different places. I would not consider Barney's a businesslike venue nor condusive to business discussion. Good venue to buy her something nice.

                          1. re: Thor123

                            I went to a breakfast at Barney's once ... They're open late afternoon/early evening? Good to know. Thor, why not conducive for business?

                            1. re: Stuartla

                              Food is good, but its a high end deli and busy counter/bar not a business scene.

                              1. re: Stuartla

                                It depends on the business, therefore the type of meeting place.
                                To say straight across the board it's 'not conducive for business' isn't, in many cases, accurate.

                                1. re: latindancer

                                  Fashion biz, for example - Could be very appropriate...

                                  1. re: J.L.

                                    It's a popular business lunch spot for those in film biz

                          2. Grill on the Alley in BH...

                            My favorite.

                            10 Replies
                            1. re: latindancer

                              dunno what the bar scene is like there these days, but i have always adored the food and the eating experience at Grill on the Alley. Every dish i've ever had there was made with top of the line ingredients and was prepared and served with care and expertise.

                              1. re: westsidegal

                                Grill on the Alley would be perfect.

                                1. re: maudies5

                                  I love the Grill on the Alley in BH. Best imported dover sole that I've had in LA. (not crazy about BH although I had an office there for years.)

                                2. re: westsidegal


                                  For the OP, who's new to LA, and looking for a future business lunch/dinner restaurant/bar I highly recommend it.
                                  I've never found anything on the menu I don't love. It's consistent, great food.
                                  The service is stellar and the waitstaff is amazingly seasoned and accommodating...nothing's changed much about the place in all the years it's been in business...a wonderfully classy ambiance. I can honestly recommend The Grill for anyone looking for a loyal waitstaff who's got the customer's best interest in mind. It's definately a 'go-to' kind of place.

                                  1. re: westsidegal

                                    Well, if the grill on the alley is kind of what you are after, then Musso and Frank is tops for those booths, I like the food but others believe it to be overpriced, stodgey, and not very good.

                                  2. re: latindancer

                                    Love the Grill for dinner. Do they have bar-area tables? I can't remember ... and I wouldn't want to be sitting AT a bar for this meeting.

                                    1. re: Stuartla

                                      No, they don't have bar-area tables.

                                      The bar is separate from the actually dining area.

                                      1. re: Stuartla

                                        The Grill on the Alley is *known* for business lunches and dinners...along with very good food.
                                        Alot of the service is geared to it, they're used to it, so taking a client there, and being taken there, is commonplace.

                                        1. re: Stuartla

                                          I am surprised at some of these responses. Clearly, my opinions differ from some others:

                                          Whether or not the Grill has good food (and I happen to love the place), it is not a place to take a client for drinks. There are no bar tables and dining is expected except when seated at the bar itself. The restaurant is used to business meetings, but not those of unknowns taking a table and not eating.

                                          Barney Greengrass is also inappropriate, even if it is open at the time of day you are looking for. Its tables are small and close together and otherwise uncomfortable and often uncleaned.

                                          Cafe del Rey is very far away in terms of driving time in the after work hours. I work in Century City and unless my client insisted on meeting there by threat of replacing me I would never consider it. I could easily spend an hour and a half getting there and back.

                                          I think you would find the Century Plaza, which is on the corner of Avenue of the Stars and Constellation (smack in the middle of Century City), the most comfortable alternative. There is the X Bar, which has some nice large booths and also a large outdoor space with tables and heaters. There is a bar with tables in the lobby, and they also have a restaurant called Breeze just off the lobby which has pretty good food and sushi (this is LA, after all). The X Bar and the Lobby Bar also serve limited food menus.

                                          Have fun.

                                          1. re: magiccat

                                            you're right, magiccat,
                                            what was i thinking?
                                            completely didn't consider drive time.
                                            my bad

                                      2. Craft in Century City, Il Moro in West L A and de Pasquale in Beverly Hills could all work.

                                        1. How about the lounge at The Peninsula - not the bar but the lounge where the piano is? I do not think the pianist plays until later in the evening but you could check. I believe it's called the Living Room. I have had wonderful business meetings there. The Lobby at Casa del Mar is also nice but it gets crowded and loud after 7:00.

                                          1. Have you had your meeting yet? Interested to know where you ended up going and whether it worked well for described purpose. I am in a very similar situation. Thanks

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: dfcla18


                                              After all the asking and scouting, etc. my client had to reschedule. But I'm hanging on to this list because she said she would like to reschedule on her next trip down here in the next couple of months.

                                              FWIW, I was leaning toward Honor Bar. Magiccat is right that X Bar or the lounge at the CP Hotel is perfect, so perfect in fact that I previously met this same client at the restaurant there, which is perfect for business lunch. (I'd hate to give this woman the impression that I only know one place in Los Angeles after having lived here for a year and a half.) For a different client, I would have gravitated to Craft -- for this one, it would be too upscale/pricey for her taste.

                                              When I do have this meeting, I promise to update. In the meantime, if you end up finding the perfect spot before I do, please post. I would appreciate the opinion of someone else in my situation.

                                            2. I cannot agree more that you should not consider taking a female client to a hotel bar or restaurant that is dark or sparsely populated. I do like outside or in a main restaurant.

                                              I am a woman usually doing the client entertaining, mostly of men, but recently had occassion to be on the client end of things. My host's invitation to a downtown hotel bar, with so many superior options, made me shudder and explain just how busy the next few months are. You might find that having nothing to do with you, your client is sensitive to the issue.

                                              If she seems up for new places or tastes, take her to La Serenata on Pico just past the Westside Tavern. There are booths in the front, there won't be many people there in the afternoon and the staff is friendly and will work with you. If you eat spicy food, ask them for a side of chilaquiles with molcajete. If you both eat and like it, you will have a client for life. (Consider the other sauces as well, of course. They will make what you want, and it is unlikely to be something with which the client is bored.)

                                              I believe I have just talked myself into dinner tonight.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: magiccat

                                                I haven't been there in ages. Last time, the food left me nonplussed. It was neither good nor bad.

                                                But maybe it serves a purpose for client entertaining ???