If you’re staying at The Chesterfield Mayfair, you’ll be in prime position to explore London’s excellent collection of museums, which undoubtedly comprise some of the finest galleries in the world. But all that study is hungry work and, when appetites kick in, there’s nothing more reinvigorating than a tasty bite at a dainty little on-site eatery. Luckily for us, London’s exceptional museum restaurants more than deliver the goods and dish up a wealth of culinary delights under the most illustrious roofs around.
The Royal Academy Restaurant, The Royal Academy
With its magnificent collection of 18th century to present-day British art, The Royal Academy is one of London’s most distinguished art establishments. On the ground floor, the mural-lined Restaurant at the Royal Academy presents an all-day selection of modern European cuisine created with prime British produce, courtesy of Irish restaurateur Oliver Peyton.
Meanwhile, hidden away on the central courtyard, Keeper’s House is Peyton’s latest RA creation and offers similarly inventive, British-infused dining with a more formal atmosphere and lots of white linen.
The V&A Café, Victoria and Albert Museum
Set within the splendid Victoria and Albert Museum (famous for its astounding arts and design displays) in the heart of South Kensington’s museum triangle, the exquisite V&A Café makes its claim to fame as the world’s first ever museum restaurant: its three interlinked rooms – Gamble, Morris, and Poynter – originally sprang to life as a showpiece of manufacturing, craftsmanship, and period design back in 1852. On offer from fresh-focused London caterer Benugo are an array of tasty sweet treats as well as crisp salads, small snacks, and heartier hot meals. When the sun shines, you can take to the outdoors at its sister Garden Café.
Portrait Restaurant, National Portrait Gallery
For food with a view, you can’t beat the classy Portrait Restaurant, which enjoys spectacular panoramas of Trafalgar Square, Big Ben, and the Houses of Parliament from its rooftop site at the National Portrait Gallery. Expect delicately prepared, seasonal British dishes, such as Scottish smoked salmon or duck confit, thrown in with locally sourced wines. The afternoon tea spread, designed by well-known pastry chef Claire Clark, is a real treat.
Gallery Mess, Saatchi Gallery
When it comes to stylish museum dining in London, Gallery Mess certainly has the modern edge: domed ceilings, towering windows, exposed brick, and a sophisticated ambience that cascades out onto an alfresco terrace area make for a smart restaurant that’s perfectly suited to its prime Chelsea location. As befits the Saatchi Gallery’s contemporary and emerging art collection, the menu here offers modern British dishes with various daily specials thrown in, and there’s an extensive bar selection. But it’s the surrounding one-of-a-kind art pieces that really top things off with a flourish.
The Wallace Restaurant, Wallace Collection
Tucked away in the quiet Georgian conservatory at the Wallace Collection, this fine French-themed eatery proves yet another hit for Peyton & Byrne. With its sprinkling of trees and sculptures, The Wallace Restaurant feels a world away from the surrounding Marylebone crowds, and you’ll be delighted by its classic brasserie-style cuisine, which includes sensational seafood, sturdy French cheeses, and freshly baked Madeleines among its offerings. The vegetarian menu also gets a rare rave review.
National Dining Rooms, National Gallery
Hidden within the Sainsbury Wing of the National Gallery, suspended over Trafalgar Square, sits the sparkling National Dining Rooms. Under the watchful eye of head chef Gillan Kingstree, carefully concocted, monthly ‘county’ menus showcase the best of the UK’s diverse regional dishes, and there’s an excellent selection of British cheeses too. Book a window table for views across Trafalgar Square.