Not for nothing do the pundits in the business pages refer to it simply as "Global HQ": from glass to plate, Rockpool Bar & Grill (66 Hunter St, Sydney, 02 8078 1900) continues to have the business-lunch crowd locked, for deals over steak (and seafood) at lunch and for serious celebration in the bar afterwards.
For a bit more sizzle without losing the polish, Neil Perry's hit sister restaurant in the basement of the same building, Spice Temple (10 Bligh St, Sydney, 02 8078 1888), is a go-to, and for something fierier still, David Thompson's Long Chim (Cnr Pitt St & Angel Pl, Sydney, 02 9223 7999) ticks the box for top-notch Thai in the CBD. Perry's latest, Jade Temple (11 Bridge St, Sydney, 02 9252 1888) has also become a fast favourite of the business crowd, providing some competition for neighbouring upmarket Cantonese specialists Mr Wong (3 Bridge La, Sydney, 02 9240 3000). Another CBD newcomer, Bacco (1/2-12 Angel Pl, Sydney, 02 9235 3383) has been warmly welcomed to the lunch scene, catering for coffee and panini on one side and the full ristorante experience on the other.
Escape down to the water and take a seat at the renovated Aria (1 Macquarie St, Sydney, 02 9240 2255), which glimmers anew, or take things to Barangaroo to talk business over the seafood platter at Cirrus (23 Barangaroo Ave, Barangaroo, 02 9220 0111). It's the sister establishment to Bentley (27 O'Connell St, Sydney, 02 8214 0505), and both restaurants continue to field wine lists par excellence. The wine situation at Felix (2 Ash St, Sydney, 02 9240 3000) is likewise a credit to its sommeliers, while fellow Francophiles Restaurant Hubert (Basement 15 Bligh St, Sydney, 02 9232 0881) are no slouch when it comes to refreshment, and present sharp takes on bistro fare alongside killer wine in a highly atmospheric (read: very slightly outré) basement dining room that is handily supplied with not one but two very good bars.
For something a bit more wholesome-leaning, No 1 Bent Street (1 Bent St, Sydney, 02 9252 5550) fills its menus with honest plates, presenting them with finesse. Fellow enthusiasts for making everything in-house Mercado (4 Ash St, Sydney, 02 9221 6444) do a splendid job bringing a more Moorish inflection to the picture.
Three-star restaurants are generally a bit too involved for the lunch trade, and are best kept for celebrations; the exception being The Bridge Room (44 Bridge St, Sydney, 02 9247 7000), where the Scandi-luxe room is as striking and elegant as Ross Lusted's food, but the pacing is perfectly in tune with deadlines. For a likewise grown-up and business-oriented adventure but with a higher order of food, wine and service, Est (Level 1, Establishment, 252 George St, Sydney, 02 9240 3000) is still the answer, especially if discretion is called for, whatever the price.