Ah, the holidays. After the gift-giving and retail indulgences are done, the last thing you want to do is pull out the credit card yet again to take an important client out. So I've compiled a list of seriously impressive lunch spots that will make you look like a baller…without breaking the bank.
DEL POSTO, NEW YORK CITY, $29
Mario Batali's cavernous, special-occasion flagship—which recently earned a rare 4 stars from the New York Times—offers a three-course lunch with a choice of antipasto (selections include lobster salad and cotechino), a primo (garganelli verdi al ragu bolognese) or secondo (slow baked lamb alla puttanesca), and dessert (chocolate ricotta tortino)—plus an amuse bouche and a plate of luscious petit fours. Luxurious and generous.
PERRY STREET, NEW YORK CITY $26
Minimalist surroundings and sophisticated comfort food make Jean-Georges Vongrichten's West Villager a go-to for impressing creative types. The three-course lunch includes house made burrata or peekytoe crab toast to start, and mains like grilled beef hanger steak or spiced organic fried chicken. And for dessert? How about some chocolate pudding with fresh cream and crystallized violets?
CECCONI'S, LOS ANGELES, $15
Frequented by Hollywood players and Botoxed bunnies alike, the buzzy vibe will entertain while the simple, solid food won't disappoint. The ridiculously inexpensive 'Presso Fissi' menu offers a choice of soup and salad or pasta and salad; pea soup with shaved pecorino and pappardelle with wild boar ragout were featured recently, along with salads like roast Chino Farm beets and burrata. As for dessert, you'll have to pay extra for that. Or do as the beautiful people do and skip it.
BLACKBIRD, CHICAGO, $22
The sleek atmosphere is the perfect backdrop to chef Paul Kahan's tasty, adventurous food. The three-course, hyper-seasonal lunch menu includes starters like warm baby octopus confit, entrees like wood grilled sturgeon with soybeans and apricots and desserts like fried polenta with blueberries and smoked brown sugar ice cream.
DB BISTRO MODERNE, MIAMI, $28
The Miami offshoot of chef Daniel Boulud's power lunch spot in New York City has a three-course 'Menu Bouchon', which offers starters like Jerusalem artichoke veloute, mains like trigger fish grenobloise and chocolate tart with banana flambee for dessert. And unlike its Northern counterpart, you're more likely to encounter sunshine and convertibles than pushy cabdrivers and snow flurries on the way home.