Feature

Eat with your Eyes: London's Best Art-Inspired Restaurants, Cafés, and Eateries

08 May 2024

by Suzie Jones

Do you like art? How about food? And is there anything better than the two combined? Our list of art-inspired eateries will take you through some of London's best-curated restaurants and the top eating spots at the city's museums and galleries.

The interplay between food and art is a long and studied history. From Salvador Dali's lavish dinner parties and Marinetti's Futurist Cookbook to the work of contemporary artist Maisie Cousins, preparing, cooking, and dining on food has been a source of inspiration for artists throughout the centuries. So enduring is this history in fact, that an exhibition opening this month focuses entirely on still lifes by major artists including Mona Hatoum, Lucian Freud and Richard Hamilton. For those traversing London in search of the best art and culture, it seems fitting to drink and dine at bars, restaurants, and cafés that reflect our tastes. Helpfully, we've brought together a list of some of the best places for art-lovers to visit when in need of something both beautiful and alimental.

Sessions Art Club

Branding itself as 'a place to disappear', Sessions Art Club offers a spectacular experience for anyone lucky enough to be seated at one of its pristine tables, decked with white linen and dinner candles, enjoying one of the menu's elegantly pared-back dishes. The restaurant has its own curatorial programme, and also hosts a rotation of galleries such as Ginny on Frederick and Sadie Coles. Artists who have exhibited on the faded-glamour walls at Sessions include Guendalina Cerruti, Gray Wielebinski, Isabella Ducrot, and Ann Craven.

Book here.

Millie Thompson, Bow down to the Sun, 2019, an exhibitions at Sessions Art Club. Photo by Beth Evans.

Larry’s and The Portrait Restaurant at the National Portrait Gallery

The Galleries at the National Portrait Gallery are flanked by two artistic dining experiences. In the Gallery's vaults, Larry’s serves all-day brunch, light lunches, and teas. In the evenings, enjoy house specialities including Harissa Chicken Paillard, locally-sourced cheese and charcuterie boards, signature cocktails, and live jazz.

Situated on the fourth floor, The Portrait Restaurant is a contemporary British dining destination with renowned chef Richard Corrigan at the helm. The Portrait offers an all-day menu that highlights the finest flavours of the British Isles while providing diners with spectacular views across Trafalgar Square and beyond.

Book for either venue.

Brunch at Larry’s, National Portrait Gallery. Photo by Melisa Coppola.

Brunch at Larry’s, National Portrait Gallery. Photo by Melisa Coppola.

Cycene at Blue Mountain School

Cycene is the restaurant arm of Blue Mountain School, a multi-storey house and public venue off Redchurch Street founded by James and Christie Brown. A genuinely unique venture, dedicated to nurturing engagement and interaction between diverse practices, the building houses a gallery, studio, retail space, and library as well as Cycene. Lunch or dinner here is a fine dining experience in every sense. Choose either the 5- or 15-course set menu, and begin proceedings at the ground floor bar, with 'a succinct list of apéritifs, minimal intervention wines, and kombuchas'. Process-driven dishes are aged, smoked, fermented, and pickled in-house, with the aim to extract maximum flavour from a range of simple, seasonal ingredients.

Book.

Cycene at Blue Mountain School. Photo by Damian Griffith.

Cycene at Blue Mountain School. Photo by Damian Griffith.

Garden Café at The Garden Museum

In recent years, The Garden Museum’s on-site café and restaurant has become a destination in its own right. With the hospitality team integrated with the museum’s programmers, educators, and curators, eating here feels like a continuation of your exploration around the museum itself. See current and upcoming shows ‘Why Women Grow’ and ‘Gardening Bohemia’, and mull them over with a plate of seasonal British cooking.

Book.

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More food inspired exhibitions