Stroll into Nick & Tony's Chophouse at lunchtime and you'll think you've entered a private dining club.

While casual patrons are found upfront at the tables for two and four, it's in the huge booths toward the rear of the restaurant — and inside the private dining rooms — where business executives cluster, chatting and conspiring over a filet or salad. Contributing to the clubby atmosphere are the recessed booths and alcoves, perfect for private business meetings.

Nick & Tony's, in fact, is deceptively large. While its glass front window and entrance on Seventh Street is rather diminutive, the establishment stretches far back into the building, expanding in width as you explore further.

The booths in the rear and the tables in the alcoves can easily accommodate a half-dozen diners each, with the massive table allowing for plenty of room to spread out papers and reports. But if the public space of the restaurant is, well, too public for you, then consider the private meeting rooms, which sit 10 to 80, depending on your departmental needs (more on that in a moment).

The fare, as you would expect from a chophouse, leans toward red meats, a definite plus in this low-carb, high-protein world of South Beach and Atkins diets. But the menu also promises a wide range of seafood, salads and even rotisserie chicken.

While the barbecue baby-back ribs would not be anyone's idea of a meal you could eat with dignity and ease, there's a wide range of dishes with prices ranging from $15 to $26: A 10-ounce sirloin, a 12-ounce New York strip, an 8-ounce filet, prime rib with horseradish sauce and a 16-ounce blackened king cut.

Some other surefire entrees — all beautifully presented — are the cashew chicken with Thai Szechwan sauce and cilantro rice (not overly spicy, so don't panic), the hazelnut-crusted trout with charred tomato and shrimp sauce, and the blackened salmon salad with grilled asparagus and house balsamic dressing.

For the timid, the sandwich menu starts at $7 with the tuna melt, and goes all the way to $10 for the carved prime rib on black rye.

Service on our visits was prompt and attentive, and while the jazzy soundtrack could have been lowered a few notches on the public address system, the music tones down the farther you sit in the back.

There's no ambient noise at all in the private dining rooms. One, located on the left just past the coat check, is a comfy room for 10 or less. Both rooms are well away from the hustle and bustle of the exhibition kitchen. Audiovisual equipment can be arranged on request. To book the meeting space, contact Melissa Camp at (513) 723-1845.

Nick & Tony's Chophouse is at 19 E. Seventh St., downtown. Call (513) 723-1940. Lunch hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. The restaurant accepts American Express, Visa, Master-Card, Discover, Diners Club, Optima and Carte Blanche. An 18 percent gratuity is added to tables of six or more.

HATHAWAY'S

At the other end of the spectrum from high-end dining is the venerable Hathaway's, located in the Carew Tower arcade (which can be accessed from either Tower Place Mall or the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Hotel). This classic luncheonette, with its Formica counters and gleaming chrome, has been around for the better part of a half-century.

Order an old-time chocolate ice cream soda, peruse the sandwich menu (boasting everything from egg salad to BLTs) and take in the vintage ambience.

It's clear the staff has been working here forever — they know everyone by first name. And, yes, the waitresses will call you "hon." You just have to put up with it.

The only downside for a business lunch? It has to be a small group since there are no large tables or booths, and the place can tend to get noisy at the noontime lunch rush. Better to plan an early-morning coffee-and-bagel meeting or a 2 p.m. BLT break if noise is an issue.

Hathaway's is in the Carew Tower arcade at Carew Tower, Fifth and Vine streets. Call (513) 621-1332. The luncheonette is open for breakfast and lunch every day except Sunday, from 6:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. Visa and MasterCard accepted.

Let's Do Lunch: The List

The following is a list of popular restaurants for a business lunch.

DOWNTOWN/UPSCALE

Aioli,

700 Elm St. (513) 929-0525

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Bella,

600 Walnut St. (513) 721-7100

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JeanRo,

413 Vine St. (513) 621-1465

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La Normandie,

118 E. Sixth St. (513) 721-2761

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Montgomery Inn at the Boathouse,

925 Eastern Ave. (513) 721-7427

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Nicholson's,

625 Walnut St. (513) 564-9111

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Palace Restaurant,

601 Vine St. (513) 381-6006

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Palomino Restaurant,

505 Vine St. (513) 381-1300

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Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery,

10 Fountain Square. (513) 621-1588

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The Albee,

21 E. Fifth St. (513) 852-2740

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The Cricket,

601 Vine St. (513) 381-3000

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The Maisonette,

114 E. Sixth St. (513) 721-2260

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DOWNTOWN/CASUAL

Arnold's,

210 E. Eighth St. (513) 421-6234

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Mullane's Cafe,

723 Race St. (513) 381-1331

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Courtyard Cafe,

1211 Main St. (513) 723-1119

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First Watch,

700 Walnut St. (513) 721-4744

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Izzy's,

612 Main St. (513) 241-6246

800 Elm St. (513) 721-4241

Carol's on Main,

825 Main St. (513) 651-2667

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Hamburger Mary's,

909 Vine St. (513) 381-6279

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NEAR DOWNTOWN/NORTHERN KENTUCKY

Kona Bistro,

3012 Madison Rd., Oakley. (513) 523-0686.

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J's,

2444 Madison Road, Hyde Park.

(513) 871-2888

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Teller's of Hyde Park, 2710 Erie Ave., Hyde Park. (513) 321-4721

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Rookwood Pottery Bistro,

1077 Celestial St., Mount Adams.

(513) 721-5456

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Behle Street Cafe,

50 E. Rivercenter Blvd.,

Covington, Ky. (859) 291-4100

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National Exemplar, 6880 Wooster Pike, Mariemont. (513) 271-2103

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Bar Louie, Newport on the Levee, Newport, Ky. (859) 291-4222

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Cafe Istanbul, Newport on the Levee, Newport, Ky. (859) 581-1777

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Bamboo Club, Newport on the Levee, Newport, Ky. (859) 261-2921

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Claddagh Irish Pub,

Newport on the Levee, Newport, Ky. (859) 581-8888

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Mt Adams Fish House,

940 Pavilion St., Mount Adams.

(513) 421-3250

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Michael G's, Rivertowne Marina,

4601 Kellogg Ave., Columbia-Tusculum. (513) 533-3131

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Trio of Kenwood, 7565 Kenwood Rd., Kenwood. (513) 984-1905

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Hofbrauhaus, 200 E. Third St., Newport, Ky. (859) 491-7200