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Food + Drink

London's best museum restaurants

Londoners and visitors are hungry for culture. And while you satiate your appetite for art, you can also satisfy your tastebuds.

With a growing number of museum restaurants that are becoming destinations in their own right, here is Citizen Femme’s top 5 to make sure all your senses are content.

The Garden Café, Garden Museum

Set within the newly redeveloped Garden Museum in Lambeth, The Garden Café opened in Summer 2017 in the museum’s new glass and beaten bronze pavilion, framed by two beautiful new gardens. The restaurant takes inspiration from its unique location, with a daily changing menu of contemporary, seasonal dishes from chefs Harry Kaufman (of Lyle’s and St John) and George Ryle (of Padella and Primeur). Although the restaurant remains a bit of a hidden treasure frequented by in-the-know museum lovers, we can guarantee it won’t be long before the secret’s out.

Rochelle Canteen, ICA

One of last year’s hottest openings, Rochelle Canteen at the ICA has quickly gained attention for the passion and integrity behind its menu of seasonal European dishes. This second Rochelle Canteen site from Margot Henderson and Melanie Arnold reflects their honest, classic cooking style, which perfectly suits the pared back interiors of the ICA, revitalised by new director Stefan Kalmár.  They have created a brand new bar and restaurant, Ben Coombs, who has previously worked at Rochelle Canteen in Shoreditch as well as at The Beagle and Le Coq, is head chef. Melanie’s son Fin Spiteri, formerly of Quo Vadis, Trullo and Flat Iron, has produced a cocktail list with a focus on classic drinks. Beers are from The House of Peroni and coffee is from Caravan. A great place to meet for dinner, share a drink and stay into the evening once the exhibitions close and the cinemas dim.

The Whitechapel Refectory, The Whitechapel Gallery

Café by day, wine bar by night, The Whitechapel Refectory are brought to you by the talented team behind 8 Hoxton Square and 10 Greek Street. A seasonal daytime menu features delicious salads, sandwiches, cakes and hot dishes for hungry art lovers. It’s adjoining wine bar After Hours has in-the-know Londoners flocking to Whitechapel for their culture fix. Open until 11pm Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, After Hours offers an extensive and very reasonably priced wine list, paired with an ever-changing cheese and charcuterie selection. Very civilised.

Gallery Mess, The Saatchi Gallery

With a constantly evolving menu, the Saatchi Gallery is a popular dining destination for its beautiful setting, charming atmosphere and excellent food. The space features exposed brickwork, vaulted ceilings and displays of art, so the listed interior provides the perfect location for a long leisurely lunch, dinner or drinks. For a more summery day, it also has an al fresco terrace that overlooks the green. You can also hire it for private dinners of up to 80 guests.

The Rex Whistler, Tate Britain

There’s a lot of history here, as when it was originally opened in 1927, the Rex Whistler Restaurant was described as ‘The Most Amusing Room in Europe’, owing to its specially commissioned mural, The Expedition in Pursuit of Rare Meats.It has been the site of political and social intrigue over the decades, as well as gaining a reputation for having one of the capital’s finest wine cellars. The wine cellar is overseen by sommelier Gustavo Medina, who would be delighted to make recommendations and decant wine prior to your arrival. At the moment, the restaurant is only open for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea. However, there are special Late at Tate nights, on the first Friday of every month, where a five-course meal, with matching wines, costs £60 per person, including all food, drinks, water and service. Unsurprisingly, tables on these evenings get booked weeks if not months in advance, so be sure to get your name down early.

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