Art and food make perfect bedfellows: some would classify food as art and art is often said to be consumed. This is a fact not lost on restauranteurs (the Tramshed is famous for having a Hirst vitrine on display and has a gallery downstairs), so it’s logical for two growing businesses to engage in a joint venture as works from Loughran Gallery hang on the walls of the Soho branch of Muriel’s Kitchen — mixing the traditional decor of the restaurant with contemporary artworks.
Works by big names feature including Hirst, street artist Blek le Rat, Tracy Emin and Marc Quinn. However the two most noticeable contributions are from Loughran Gallery’s signature artists — Jessica Zoob and Dave White. Zoob’s earlier abstract paintings feature, though they aren’t as strong as her more recent works we’ve seen, and Dave White steals the show with his bright, colourful and energetic paintings of a burger and a sea turtle.
But what about the food on offer? We try the smoked salmon starter and it’s a solid choice, but feeling a little salmon enamoured we also pick the chargrilled salmon steak with wild rocket pesto for our mains but unfortunately it’s quite bland — as is the berry smoothie recommended by the waiter. One saving grace is the suggested side of broccoli and asparagus: the addition of sesame seeds, soy sauce and chillies ensures it has a real kick and is bursting with flavour. We finish off with the chocolate cake and the slice that arrives is huge, delicious and a real struggle to finish.
Though we aren’t fans of the main course, we do like the vision behind the restaurant. When we spoke to Sam Miller, who together with his wife Charlotte runs the three branches of the restaurant, he described his vision of British cuisine as being primarily based on locally sourced ingredients so the menu has to rotate every month to utilise ingredients that are in season.
As the art is located near the comfy sofas at the back of the restaurant it’s a nice addition, whether visiting for a meal or just a cup of coffee and a slice of cake, potentially heralding a rotating programme of artworks.