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Arts + Lifestyle

The Art Of Dining: Eight Of London’s Best Gallery Restaurants

There aren’t many better ways to spend an autumn or winter’s day than strolling around London’s best art galleries, soaking in the cultural highlights, then settling in for a long lunch with friends.

At these eight restaurants, set within the grounds of some of London’s finest galleries, the two go hand-in-hand.


1. Ochre at The National Gallery

Old meets new at The National Gallery’s Ochre, which opened in April 2022 but maintains many original features of the early 1800’s building. From the team behind Muriel’s Kitchen, expect contemporary European cuisine and an extensive menu that develops throughout the day. Indulge in pancakes and eggs for brunch, monkfish and harissa-spiced lamb burgers for lunch, or pork belly and duck breast for dinner. We highly recommend the afternoon tea served with champagne as well as their creative cocktail menu, inspired by the influential and historical artworks displayed in nearby rooms: Sunflower Sours is inspired by Van Gogh’s Sunflowers (1888) and Bather’s Club is inspired by Georges Seurat’s Bathers at Asnières (1884).

 

 

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2. Spring at Somerset House

Seasonal dining takes on new meaning at Spring, where the menu changes daily. By evening the restaurant is an elegant choice for long dinners over not only good food, but  good wine and good company, too. Or, dine in the early evening (between 5.30PM and 6.30PM) and you’ll be eating yesterday’s leftovers – yes, really! In an effort to prevent waste Chef Skye Gyngell, formerly of Petersham Nurseries and master of creative cooking, dreams up ingenuous new dishes from leftovers, and perfectly repackages them into a three-course meal. For us, the latter is an ideal pre-theatre spot.

 

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3. José Pizarro at the Royal Academy of Art

The single-artist shows at the Royal Academy of Art never disappoint; past exhibitions include showcases from Ai Weiwei, Anish Kapoor, and Antony Gormley. This winter it’s the turn of William Kentridge, known for his animations and larger-than-life productions. Once you’ve taken in the exhibition, head to chef José Pizarro’s Spanish restaurant, located in the Senate Room on the first floor of Burlington Gardens. Dine on his much-loved jamón ibérico, before taking time to digest – both your meal and the important cultural work you’ve just explored. 

William Kentridge will be shown in the Main Galleries until 22 December 2022. 

 

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4. Kitchen & Bar at Tate Modern

Kitchen & Bar at Tate Modern offers seasonal menus which, this Autumn, celebrates post-impressionist Paul Cézzane, honouring the tastes and textures of his Provençal France. Dishes include Duck Cassoulet, Roasted Courgette with Tahini, and Baron Bigod. After exploring the 20 rooms filled with art and information about the artist and his life, this relaxing restaurant will no doubt be a welcome place to sit and unwind. Not least because of the views offered across the River Thames and St. Paul’s Cathedral. Book a Cezanne and lunch ticket for the best of both.

 

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5. Crane’s Kitchen at South London Gallery

In southeast London’s Peckham, located within the South London Gallery (SLG), is Crane’s Kitchen by Social Pantry. Founded in 1892 by philanthropist William Rossiter who wanted to ‘bring art to the people of south London’ the gallery houses exhibitions of lesser-known British and international artists, many of whom have never held a solo show in London. The double-height, spacious and modern interior, beautifully decorated with gold Paul Morisson drawings serves seasonal fare – we love the compote and the shakshuka, and are utterly enamoured with their comprehensive drinks menu, which ranges from dirty chai and matcha lattes, to kombucha, and a beer brewed with surplus bread in order to reduce waste. 

 

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6. Osteria at The Barbican

The Barbican Centre needs no introduction but, while browsing their celebrated film, music, theatre, dance and visual arts programmes, be sure to also visit Osteria, a modern Italian restaurant by Searcys. Overlooking the city skyline and the Barbican’s fountains, expect regional Italian food including buffalo mozzarella and stuffed courgette flower as an aperitivo, potato gnocchi and roasted pork belly as mains, and an Amalfi lemon tart or Italian cheese selection for dessert. Or should we say dolci. Visit for lunch or an early dinner – and when we say early, we mean it: the restaurant closes at 7PM. This is the spot for a pre-theatre or pre-gig dinner.

 

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7. The Great Court Restaurant at the British Museum

Hidden away on a parapet in the roof space of The British Museum’s great court, access to the museum’s eatery is granted only by walking through several exhibits and out onto a walkway. In fact, The Court Restaurant is barely advertised at all, making this a genuinely hidden London treat. Occupying an enviable position amidst the overstated grandeur of the British Museum’s Great Court, the space has an almost-serene vibe very different to the attraction’s inevitable bustle, helped by accomplished service that is speedy but not rushed. From vibrant prawn ceviche to succulent chicken ‘saltimbocca’, this very special location provides the ultimate conversation spot in a relaxed atmosphere.

 

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8. Townsend at The Whitechapel Gallery

By day, Townsend is somewhere for gallery visitors to grab a bite to eat; by night it’s a destination restaurant. Chris Shaw has been at the helm at Townsend and has designed his own modern British menu showcasing seasonal British produce in a simple yet refined manner. An intimate thirty-four-cover dining room with brown leather banquettes, high ceilings and a large window at one end, allowing light to flood in from Whitechapel High Street. The menu is staunchly seasonal, but steers clear of pretention and dishes throughout are carefully matched with British wines. In the low hum of the pared-back dining room it’s easy to find yourself sat in the same spot hours later feeling fully relaxed and restored.

 

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