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Arts + Lifestyle

The Art Of Dining: London's Best Restaurants For Art Lovers

At London’s best restaurants for art lovers, the worlds of art and dining collide offering a feast for the eyes, ears – and the tastebuds.

Autumn days in London are best punctuated by art, culture, food and drink – and London provides it all. From dining spaces filled with pieces from Andy Warhol, Henri Matisse and Damien Hirst, to restaurants situated within dedicated gallery spaces – at these art-meets-dining restaurants you can have it all. And eat it too.

These are ten of London’s best restaurants for art lovers.

1. Mount St. Restaurant

With £50 million worth of art adorning its walls, floors and tables, Mount St. Restaurant in London’s Mayfair is perhaps best described as an immersive art gallery that just so happens to also serve really good food. Here, you’ll find pieces from Lucian Freud, Henri Matisse and Andy Warhol on the walls, with more than a fair few pieces notably depicting food scenes: look for Freud’s A Plate of Prawns (1968), Matisse’s Eperlans (1920), and Warhol’s Lobster (1982). Alongside these, find Rashid Johnson’s Broken Floor Mosaic (2022) under your feet, plus lamps by Sophie Taeuber-Arp and salt and pepper shakers by Paul McCarthy standing front and centre of your table. This is a space designed for more than just appreciation, it’s a place to spark interaction, connection and conversation. The space is also home to some of London’s best private dining rooms which, along with the main restaurant, serve up dishes inspired by London’s culinary traditions. Think sausage sandwiches for breakfast, grouse and goose liver pies for lunch, and beef wellington, oysters and caviar for dinner.



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Sculptures by Damien Hirst hover over diners at Bacchanalia; namely a unicorn ridden by winged lovers, a stand alone unicorn, a winged lion, Medusa and Bacchus – each in keeping with the Greek and Roman mythology theme that runs throughout the space, art and food. So well is the theme executed that you’ll also be dining with 2,000-year old statues that pay homage to Greek gods and goddesses. Food follows suit too; the Feasting Menu is a good place to start and comes with shared dishes including lobster with black truffle, Greek-style meatballs and a bread basket served with hummus, tarama and olives. Owned by Richard Caring and designed by Martin Brudnizki, it’s no surprise that this is one of the most fun places to dine in London right now. The private room is also a great spot to hire out for a special occasion.



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3. 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. The afternoon tea served with champagne is a big hitter, as are their creative cocktails, each inspired by the influential and historical artworks displayed in nearby rooms: Sunflower Sours takes its lead from Van Gogh’s Sunflowers (1888) and Bather’s Club is inspired by Georges Seurat’s Bathers at Asnières (1884). A new addition to the gallery is Larry’s, a bar located in a vault that used to store coal and is well worth visiting for pre- or post-dinner drinks. 



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4. 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, 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, whips up ingenuous new dishes from leftovers, and perfectly repackages them into a three-course meal. The restaurant’s location at Somerset House also promises an ever-evolving and ever-inspiring list of exhibitions to browse. The Missing Thread: Untold Stories of Black British Fashion is one of many wonderful fashion exhibitions showcasing across the capital right now, and will remain here until January 2024. 



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5. 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 performance artist, Marina Abramović. 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. Marina Abramović will be exhibiting until 1 January 2024. 



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6. Kitchen & Bar at Tate Modern

Kitchen & Bar at Tate Modern offers seasonal menus inspired by exhibitions showing in the adjacent gallery. This autumn it takes direction from the always popular Infinity Mirror Rooms by Yaoyi Kusama, taking place in The George Economou Gallery. Dishes include agedashi tofu served with shiitake, sesame, lime, coriander and chillies, as well as a miso chocolate mousse for dessert. After exploring Kusama’s display – one of her largest installations to date – this restaurant is an inspiring place to sink into and ponder your art experience. Not least because of the views offered across the River Thames and St. Paul’s Cathedral. Book a Kusama and Dinner experience for the best of both.



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7. Brasserie of Light at Selfridges

Damien Hirst and his larger than life statues are back again, this time with a crystal-encrusted, 24-foot tall sculpture of Pegasus at Brasserie of Light. Located in central London, on the first floor of Oxford Street’s Selfridges and accessed directly from Duke Street, the restaurant decor follows Hirst’s daring lead: it’s bold and colourful, contrasting blue booths with yellow chairs inside a spacious room that seems to have stepped straight out of the 1940s art deco era. The menu is extensive and dishes range from the Malaysian prawn curry to a plant-based burger and a stilton salad, with seasonal menus often drawn up to celebrate notable dates and events.



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8. Barbican Brasserie By Searcys at The Barbican Centre

The Barbican Centre needs no introduction but, while browsing their celebrated film, music, theatre, dance and visual arts programmes, take time to visit Barbican Brasserie by Searcys. The latest in a succession of brilliant restaurants hosted within the centre, find it on the second floor overlooking the Barbican’s lake. Expect seasonal British and European dishes such as the carrot and roasted corn soup, leek and sweet potato tortelloni and pork chop served with cabbage, apple compote, pickled onion and mustard seeds. Visit for lunch or an early dinner: the restaurant closes at 7PM. This is the spot for pre-theatre dining. 



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9. The Great Court Restaurant at the British Museum

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. Add to this the fact that The Court Restaurant is barely advertised, and this space can be considered one of London’s more hidden dining spaces. With no fanfare, but occupying an enviable position among the overstated grandeur of the British Museum’s Great Court, the space has a serene vibe at odds with the popular museum’s inevitable bustle. Led by an accomplished service that is speedy but not rushed, the restaurant is open for lunch and afternoon tea with a menu that includes dishes such as Norfolk free-range chicken, butternut squash risotto, and the classic British fish and chips.



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10. 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. Head Chef, Chris Shaw, is at the helm and has designed his own modern-British menu showcasing seasonal produce in a simple yet refined manner. This is an intimate, thirty-four-cover dining room with brown leather banquettes, high ceilings and a large window allowing light to flood in from Whitechapel High Street. Dishes are carefully matched with British wines and the menu is staunchly seasonal, but steers clear of pretension. In the low hum of the pared-back dining room it’s easy to find yourself sat in the same spot for hours.



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