Dena Brumpton’s dining boltholes

The CEO of Barclays Wealth & Investments UK shares aged sirloin steaks with fund managers in London and steamed pork buns with clients and colleagues in Hong Kong

Dena Brumpton at 67 Pall Mall, London
Dena Brumpton at 67 Pall Mall, London | Image: Sebastian Boettcher

“It’s a standing joke in my office that when I’m in London I never eat a meal unsupervised. I live in Gloucestershire, travel all over the UK and work in the capital three days a week, and when I’m there I like to elongate the business day from breakfast into evening drinks and dinner.

I like doing business over breakfast: it’s confined in that it rarely goes beyond 9am. At One Canada Square, near our Canary Wharf offices, you can have a conversation without being overheard; I often meet people there I would like to recruit over boiled eggs and builder’s tea.

Going out for lunch can break up the day, so I eat in the office with my team, and we catch up on progress, strategy and initiative. Then, in the early evening, I take clients to 67 Pall Mall, where my favourite dish is the haggis Scotch egg: it’s the only club I belong to, and a wine-lover’s paradise. There are lots of little nooks so you can be discreet or part of the buzz, depending on the meeting. They operate the Coravin system where you can pour wine without pulling the cork, and are happy to open important and expensive wines by the glass. Recently, I tasted the Château Angelus Saint Emilion 2005 bordeaux, which was heavenly.

Much of the time I am eating out with clients, strategic partners or suppliers including the largest fund managers, such as BlackRock or Vanguard. You have different conversations when you go out of the office; we are in a people business, and it’s essential to feel comfortable with the people you are dealing with, not just with what you are selling.

Another favourite is the Japanese restaurant Roka, which is an interesting one for me as I lived in Tokyo in the 1980s and hated fish; back then I had to drink a lot of sake to wash down sushi or still-moving prawns. Out of respect for the culture, I couldn’t ask for something else – but I learnt to love it. Roka’s food is light and sharing it breaks the ice. I take people I already know for a lively meal: it’s noisy – not the place for a first meeting. I have my tuna tataki and citrus yellowtail with wine now; I’ve moved on from sake.

Advertisement

The atmosphere at Goodman, where I take associates and industry professionals, is more masculine: the emphasis is on steak – they bring cuts to the table for you to choose. I tend to have British sirloin with truffle macaroni and cheese. It’s also the place for an amazing Old Fashioned.

Barclays has a large operation in Glasgow so I’m there monthly. I take my team to The Butchershop, which is cool and energetic: we work intense, long hours and it’s good to have a bit of fun. We always order the Tomahawk, a cut of ribeye on the bone, about 2ft long; when it comes to the table it’s a theatrical moment.

We have clients all over the country, so sometimes I work from Gloucestershire and meet them at The Feathered Nest. I particularly like their Dover sole but the menu changes seasonally – I’ll never know how they get such great ingredients in Nether Westcote.

One place where I’ve made an exception of eating business lunches is The China Club in Hong Kong, where they have an amazing modern art collection. I don’t know if it’s my body clock, but I need a reasonable midday meal when I’m there. It’s a lively place: you bump into clients and old colleagues, and the steamed pork buns are incredible. 

Although I am based in the UK now, I worked for Citibank for 30 years and used to travel regularly to New York. I was once taken to Per Se – the first place I tried truffle popcorn – to celebrate a significant business disposal deal. We had the tasting menu: it’s expensive but exquisite, and I was lucky enough to be allowed into the kitchen – it was like watching art in the making.”

Advertisement

See also

Advertisement
Loading