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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.

    http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-honor-bar...

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

    http://www.yelp.com/biz/bandera-los-a...
    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

                      fwiw,
                      it is true, i have been to cafe del rey on dates.
                      AND
                      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

                          really,
                          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.