RESTAURANTS & BARS
Call us greedy, but we can think of no better way to follow up a museum visit than with a delicious stopover for lunch or tea. Some museums, however, have had woefully disappointing offerings in the past but we’re pleased to report that with a wave of new openings afoot, the choice has just gotten a whole lot better. Here are our favourites:
Best food: We’ve got our eye on two new openings this autumn which aim to serve up a more haute cuisine take on museum food. On the 1st November 2013, The Magazine restaurant opens at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery, located in an old 1805 gunpowder storehouse which has been transformed by Zaha Hadid’s new futuristic wing with clear glass walls overlooking the garden by Arabella Lennox-Boyd. Chef Oliver Lange is at the helm, serving up dishes such as Dublin Bay prawns in Bouillabaisse, warm chocolate bread pudding and for brunch, Granny’s buttermilk pancakes, pecans and berry compote and you can eat from breakfast, brunch, lunch and tea through dinner. In a more traditional setting, The Whistler Restaurant at Tate Britain, re-opens on 19th November 2103 (it originally opened in 1927), with the mural by Whistler newly restored. Serving fish delivered daily from Newlyn in Cornwall, the restaurant has a great wine list and will be open for lunch and tea daily and for dinner on Fridays only.
Best view: One of our favourite views in London is from The National Portrait Gallery’s top floor Portrait Restaurant. Overlooking Trafalgar Square towards Big Ben, it’s a fairly small restaurant but a great, out-of-the-bustle-of-the-West-End spot to catch a quick lunch. For another great view (and equally as good as a date venue as we can attest from experience!) head to the Tate Modern’s seventh floor restaurant which has late lunches, a good bar and a lovely view over to St Paul’s.
Best for kids: We were super impressed by our visit for lunch at the Natural History Museum’s The Restaurant recently (just next to Creepie Crawlies, run by the Benugo chain). With four kids in tow, we found the ‘Scoffasaurus’ menu (complete with dairy-free and gluten-free dishes), high chairs and free drawing kits extremely welcome. You queue to order and pay, after which you’re seated promptly and the food is pretty quick to arrive. With an on-site pizza oven, we found the food very fresh and all in all, a relatively hassle-free eating-with-kids experience.
Best atmosphere/bar: The just opened Keeper’s House at the Royal Academy, in the eastern wing of the museum, was originally built in the 1870′s as the London home of the Keeper of the Royal Academy. Having undergone a £6.5 million revamp, with interiors designed by David Chipperfield Architects and a garden by landscape designer Tom Stuart-Smith, there are works of art by Royal Academicians such as Grayson Perry, Tracey Emin and Michael Craig Martin on display and Oliver Peyton is in charge of the new restaurant and cocktail bar. With wifi throughout and sitting rooms to while the hours away, it’s a great in-the-know place to rest your weary feet or for an evening cocktail. (Note: Friends of the RA have all-day access whilst the public can only go from 4pm until midnight).
Best al fresco: The Saatchi Gallery’s Gallery Mess has beautiful coved ceilings inside but also some great tables outside for warmer weather. Alternatively, Djanogly Café at Tate Britain which is opening this November, has an outdoor terrace overlooking the Thames which we’re hoping will be an excellent place for a summer’s afternoon.
Best tea: A Peyton and Byrne café (one of our other favourites is at The Welcome Collection), the outside/inside elegant Parisian-style courtyard at The Wallace Collection makes for a lovely setting for their classic afternoon tea menu (and don’t miss out on their gooey carrot cake either).