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The favourite lunch spots of Sydney’s top bankers

Where to join a who’s who of dealmakers celebrating corporate milestones at Sydney’s hottest restaurants.

When $1.2 billion chemicals distributor Redox went public in July, chief executive Raimond Coneliano toasted the $400 million-plus listing with lunch at subterranean Sydney staple Bistecca.

For Coneliano, lunch with his team of UBS advisers at the Florentine-inspired steak house capped off the “out-of-body experience” he described of listing his family-run business.

Bistecca’s steak and red wine is a popular spot for Sydney’s corporate crowd, and considered one of the go-to restaurants to commemorate clients’ milestones, which often come after months of pitch deck preparations and countless investor meetings.

But those end-of-deal lunches and dinners are thinner on the ground these days. Investment banking fees slumped 43 per cent in the first nine months of the year. To mitigate the slowdown in IPOs and M&A, banks have shed jobs, and bonuses are being paid in instalments to better manage costs.

The good news? Despite fewer deals, this year hasn’t seen any more pricey restaurants blacklisted by expense departments (remember Macquarie’s ban on caviar bump’s Coogee home Mimi’s last year?)

In this subdued deal environment, even if you are a professional luncher, you don’t want to be known for it. But equally, part of the job description is knowing how to navigate the city’s top restaurants.

It’s not as easy as it used to be. Power lunches have dispersed – and the days of the ultimate dining flex being measured by securing the right table at Machiavelli and Azuma, or even Rockpool have eased.

But people still have to eat.

Everyone loves a newcomer. And Clam Bar, Capella’s Brasserie 1930, Le Foote and Shell House get frequent mentions. Others that can be counted on to deliver a buzzy corporate feel include intimate wine bar Ragazzi, French bistro Felix and old school Italian joint Pendolino. Bambini Trust is guaranteed to deliver interesting corporate lunch groupings alongside delicious food, while Merivale’s Uccello is a hit with younger bankers.


Malaysian-inspired Neptune Palace in the Gateway Building retains its name as a go-to for an old-school broking lunch, while Japanese haunt Masuya is another standby for its reputation as well-priced, good food that’s right in the centre. And for those down the Barangaroo end of town, Crown’s Woodcut scores a mention.

One person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, says frequent transactions like a bond deal or an equity raise would now warrant a lunchtime outing rather than an expensive, dinnertime blowout.

Here is our list of the five ultimate hottest spots for the investment banking elite, from long-time classics to new venues that cater to desires to dine outside the CBD or ensure bankers can be back at their desks in a tick.

1. District Brasserie

Pumping, In full view. Bankers galore.

District Brasserie at the bottom of Chifley Tower.  Christopher Pearce

Why it’s a hit: Located in the bustling Chifley Tower, District straddles the crucial coffee meeting and the power lunch.

One banker said: “If I wanted to shake 20 pairs of hands in a couple of hours, District is where I’d go.”

Rainmakers from UBS, Bank of America and Morgan Stanley are all regulars, making District the ideal place to be part of the scene.


Scott Findlay, District’s venue manager, says spending habits have changed as banks crack down on entertainment budgets.

“As soon as the corporate cards start getting cut, their allowances get cut,” he says, adding that diners are opting for beer over wine.

“There is more of a beer economy in the restaurant at the moment.”

Still, District’s convenience has made it a mainstay for the banking elite. But after seven years, people have less than two months to sample the popular chicken salad, steak frites or crumbed flathead. Then there’s the double hanger sharing steak that draws people from interstate, Findlay says.

District will close on December 22 as the Chifley Tower undergoes a revamp.

Fear not, however, as the restaurant owners are opening a new, yet-to-be-named, spot on the north side of the building. But it will be different, says Findlay.

“It’s the end of an era,” he says.

“The first question a lot of customers asked when they heard about the renovations was, ‘will District be there?’.”

Dish to splash out on: Double hanger (wagyu), $160/kilogram



2. sushi e

In and out. Mondays. Intimate

sushi e inside Establishment on George Street. Marco Del Grande

Why it’s a hit: Monday dining is a rarity in Sydney, but sushi e kicks the Monday blues, and it’s fast.

The menu caters to a broad palette given its raw bar has favourites like snapper, carpaccio and kingfish, while fried options like chicken karaage and cuttlefish tempura are big sellers.

Backed by Merivale, bankers know they’ll get the first-class experience at Justin Hemmes’ joints. Sushi e is a great choice for their out-of-town clients wanting to sample Sydney’s Asian food scene.

Dish to splash out on: Koji toothfish, $69



3. Margaret

New Lucio’s. Double Bay. Friday.

Margaret in Double Bay. Edwina Pickles

Why it’s a hit: Neil Perry, the Sydney chef who founded the Double Bay staple, says Margaret showed business people were willing to venture beyond the CBD for power lunches.

“In a post-COVID world, more people are meeting outside the Sydney CBD for lunches and dinner,” he says, adding that professionals were including Double Bay and Chippendale in their pursuit of entertainment.

“Normally, I’d have to do something like this in the CBD… corporates have gravitated toward neighbourhood restaurants,” Perry says about Margaret.

In truth, corporate types have been ducking out of the city for years (Lucio’s, Beppi’s and even Longrain), though they have also liked to stay relatively close. Bankers, still, prefer Margaret for dinnertime when they can couple their best clients with one of Sydney’s celebrated chefs.

Bankers are drawn to the seafood at the Double Bay establishment, pointing out the King George whiting fish with olive oil as a go-to dish.

Dish to splash out on: Bruce’s King George whiting, $59


4. Rockpool Bar & Grill

Private room. Dress circle. Stayer.

Rockpool Bar & Grill, Hunter Street. Edwina Pickles

Why it’s a hit: Discretion is bliss in the cutthroat world of corporate M&A, making Rockpool’s private dining rooms the ideal setting to cut a deal, and a rib-eye, in secret.

Two things stand out at Rockpool. One: the private dining rooms are perfect to win over a CEO through a quiet, intimate discussion. Two: the famous front section typically hosts a who’s who of dealmakers right in the dress circle.

If you’re spotted here, competitors know you’ve got the ear of the country’s biggest fee-paying clients.

Corey Costelloe, the culinary director at Rockpool’s Hunter St. Hospitality, says its “impressive dining rooms” and art deco features were “well suited to corporate clientele” who want a “prestigious lunch spot”.

“Spending habits are a little less carefree across the board, but when it comes to business lunch, guests are committed to a premium experience,” Costelloe says.

Rockpool’s $1550 bottle of Ace of Spades champagne, therefore, might make way for its $120 Rockpool cuvee.

Dish to splash out on: Fillet minute style with Cafe de Paris butter, $72


5. Mr Wong

Merivale. Ambience. Dim Sum.

Mr Wong in the Establishment Hotel, 3 Bridge Lane. Louise Kennerley

Why it’s a hit: Merivale is known for many things, but bankers appreciate the consistent service at most of its venues.

And with a palatable shared menu, Mr Wong suits bankers who need to entertain big groups on short notice.

The corporate menu features the dim sum option, salt and pepper Balmain bugs, Peking duck pancakes and seafood fried rice, among other dishes.

“The most popular with guests in banking and financial services are Uccello, Felix and perennial favourite Mr Wong,” Frank Roberts, Merivale’s group general manager of food and beverage, says.

Bankers who report to Wall Street-headquartered overlords reckon Mr Wong is a favourite whenever their New York bosses – who are enamoured by Sydney’s Asian food scene – are in town.

“We definitely have a popular corporate entertaining order at Mr Wong,” Roberts says, adding it was “perfect” for sharing.

Dish to splash out on: Char siu roasted Glacier 51 toothfish, $64


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Aaron Weinman
Aaron WeinmanInvestment banking correspondentAaron Weinman is an investment banking correspondent at The Australian Financial Review. Connect with Aaron on Twitter. Email Aaron at
Jemima Whyte
Jemima WhyteSenior reporterJemima Whyte writes on business, specialising in companies, capital markets and innovation. Jemima has reported on business for The Australian Financial Review for more than 13 years. Email Jemima at

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