September 14, 2012
Art galleries and museums have seriously upped their game where dining is concerned - now you can combine your cultural expedition with a full-on gourmet blowout without having to leave the premises. Here are some of our favourite gallery restaurants:
Whitechapel Gallery Dining Room
Gordon Ramsay’s ex-protégée Angela Hartnett is behind the menu at the Whitechapel Gallery Dining Room, which changes daily and features British food with Italian influences. Bold flavours are key: quartered artichoke hearts are marinated in rich olive oil and sprinkled with liberal amounts of black pepper, smoked trout rarebit combines smoky fish with a rich creamy sauce on toasted crusty bread. The dining room itself is cosy and intimate, ideal for a subdued tête-à-tête, regardless of whether you’re here for an exhibition.
This café and restaurant is located on the premises of the South London Gallery, Peckham’s very own contemporary art space, housed within a bright and airy Victorian building. Food is simple and wholesome, like the smoked pulled pork stew with butter beans, and a tart made with sweet potato, walnut, feta cheese and mint, both very satisfying - especially for £8 and £7 respectively. Huge portions of moist sponge cakes (beetroot, upside down apricot, orange and lemon) are not to be passed up either.
It’s all about small plates at the Barbican Lounge, where even traditionally substantial dishes like shoulder of lamb tagine and oxtail with pappardelle are given the tapas treatment. The menu is Mediterranean-inspired and quirky; we particularly like the mini cheese fondue served in a compact Le Creuset pot. Desserts on the other hand are billed as “not so small” and are indeed more like sharing portions, that’s if you want to part with half your sticky date and apple pudding.
The National Café
If thanks are due to anyone for bringing fine dining to London’s art galleries, it’s Oliver Peyton. His catalogue includes the Wallace Restaurant, the Restaurant at the Royal Academy, the National Dining Rooms and the National Café, both at Trafalgar Square’s National Gallery. At the latter, dishes present expert flavour combinations, such as the supremely silky burrata with salty prosciutto and slices of refreshing grilled white peach. Equally commendable is the creamy kedgeree with peas, smoked haddock and large chunks of boiled egg, and the lentil and cashew veggie burger topped with halloumi, which spills out impressively of an ultra-thin sourdough bun.
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