Feeding Stomach and Mind: Top Ten Cultural Restaurants in London
London is simply rife with restaurants, and not always good ones. After a long day absorbing the city's wonderful cultural exhibits you'll want to unwind – and there is no better way to do so than with a quality meal. This list will dish up the crème de la crème of dining experiences within the best cultural institutions in London.
The Cut Bar
Part of The Young Vic Theatre, The Cut serves freshly made food throughout the entire day from 9am until late evening. This ever-bustling bar and restaurant promotes high quality free range and organic cuisine, combining simple classic British dishes and themes from current theatre events to create the menu, which has a mouthwatering range of meat-based dishes but also includes an impressive number of vegan and vegetarian meals as well.
The Saatchi Gallery for contemporary art is one of the most renowned in London, and its restaurant Gallery Mess is well equipped to feed and water any hungry art enthusiasts who pass its beautiful windowed wall into the vast restaurant space. The room is lined with some of the world’s best contemporary artworks, which are all available from Saatchi's online gallery. Catered for by London-based food company Rhubarb, food and art compliment one another as the restaurant serves up contemporary British cuisine with stunning presentation.
Almeida Restaurant and Bar
Located across the road from Angel and Islington's Almeida Theatre, the Almeida Restaurant and Bar serves contemporary French food using sustainable British sources. Catering to its theatre-going audience, the restaurant has the option of a set menu, available pre- or post-theatre. Head chef since March 2013, Martin Nisbet also shares a number of other options throughout the day, including a well equipped full á la carte menu.
Royal Court Theatre Café
Locally sourced British produce is served at the Café Bar at The Royal Court Theatre. Existing in a new space built beneath Sloane Square, the fresh new feel of the restaurant is juxtaposed against the closed, cramped vaults that preexisted beneath the pavements. Taking pride in hand picked British produce, the restaurant promotes quality home cooking and a comprehensive selection of seasonal dishes, cheeses and wines.
Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square, SW1W 8AS, (+44) 020 7565 5058
National Dining Rooms
Opened in 2006 by legendary restaurateur Oliver Peyton of Peyton and Byrne, National Dining Rooms serve up a delightfully selective à la carte menu, in addition to its daily-changing set menu. Comfortable and relaxed dining encompasses visitors as mural-covered walls surround them. In addition to their full menu, The National Dining Rooms also offer up Afternoon Tea, where the belly yearns at the sight of a quintessential collection of cakes, scones and sandwiches.
The National Dining Rooms, Sainsbury Wing, The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN, (+44) 020 7747 2525
The Portrait Restaurant
With its panoramic views of London overlooking the Houses of Parliament, The Portrait Restaurant is a popular place to dine for people who have built up their hunger after a long afternoon at an exhibition. Perched above the National Portrait Gallery, the restaurant serves rich British orientated food with a French influence. The food is by prestigious catering company Searcys, and these high standards of cuisine coupled with the location make this a perfect place for those first time visitors to London.
St Martin’s Place, London, WC2H 0HE, (+44) 020 7312 2490
The Blueprint Café
Another restaurant situated in the center of London, The Blueprint Café serves a decorous monthly à la carte menu in addition to a market menu which serves a selection of the month's freshest dishes made using the best seasonal ingredients. As expected due to its residency above The Design Museum, the interior of the restaurant is lavish and sleek. Taking inspiration from France, head chef Mark Jarvis combines this with characteristics from around Europe in order to create food that is simple and expertly executed.
Blueprint Café, Design Museum, London, SE1 2YD, (+44) 020 7378 7031
The Court Restaurant
The Court Restaurant at The British Museum serves a wide selection of dishes from modest nibbles and small starter dishes to contemporary main courses and mixed food boards to share, which are perfect for a couple at lunch. The food is operated by Benugo and is well presented and unpretentious, while the setting in which it can be enjoyed is simply stunning. The restaurant is found on the upper floor of the museum and the large skylight illuminates the building's features during the day.
British Museum, Great Russell Street, WC1B 3DG, (+44) 020 7323 8990
Housed within the South London Gallery, No67 works independently as both a café and restaurant, offering menus throughout the day each containing pleasant daily changing specials. The intimate lunch atmosphere within the building compliments the impressive menu which ranges from spicy cooked lamb to sandwiches and cakes. For dinner No67 transforms into a cosy bistro, serving an eclectic range of dishes. A particularly nice feature of the restaurant is the ability to take away items, making it perfect for al fresco lunches in the summer.
67 Peckham Road, London, SE5 8UH, (+44) 020 7252 7649
Whitechapel Gallery Dining Room
Run by well-known culinary figures Angela Hartnett and Emma Duggan, the seasonal menu of the Whitechapel Gallery Dining Room changes daily and the range of dishes make this a suitable place to eat for those looking for a small lunchtime bite or a hearty dinner. The inside of the restaurant is contemporary and furnished with light wood, conveying a peaceful relaxed setting. Lights hang haphazardly from the high ceiling while light beams from the large windows line the front of the building. Notable the restaurant features many events, often with Angela herself discussing the menu in depth.
77-82 Whitechapel High St London E1 7QX, (+44) 020 7522 7896
By Melissa Pearce
Images courtesy; 1: The Cut Bar, 2: Gallery Mess, 3: Almeida Restaurant and Bar, 4: Royal Court Theatre Café, 5: National Dining Rooms, 6: Searcys, 7: The Blueprint Café, 8: The British Museum/The Court Restaurant, 9: No67, 10: Whitechapel Gallery Dining Room.