The Best Cafés In London's Art Galleries

Lettie Mckie
By Lettie Mckie Last edited 83 months ago

Last Updated 07 August 2017

The Best Cafés In London's Art Galleries

From admiring Rembrandt's brushstrokes to contemplating the meaning behind *that* David Shrigley sculpture, looking at art is a tiring business. Luckily for Londoners many of our best Galleries (and Museums) have also got top cafés attached. Somebody get us a cream tea pronto.

The Wallace Restaurant

What better way to finish off a visit to the Wallace Collection's sumptuous hoard of old master paintings, sculptures and priceless artefacts than by relaxing in its covered courtyard restaurant in the heart of the gallery?

A French-style brasserie, it's pastel peach in colour and decorated with potted trees. The restaurant perfectly reflects the grandeur of the collection's home, Hertford House, where visitors can escape into a luxurious 18th century setting in the middle of the West End.

The Wallace Restaurant, The Wallace Collection, Hertford House, Manchester Square W1U 3BN
Good for: lunch

Tate Kitchen & Bar

Photo: Natalie Fayaud

The gargantuan retro-fitted industrial architecture of Tate Modern makes it worth hanging out here, even if you're not that into art. Our favourite of its several restaurants and cafés has to be the Kitchen & Bar on level 6, which offers great views of the City's skyline from the South Bank. Sure, you're probably going to have to queue for a seat but trust us, it feels smugly exclusive when you finally sit down to survey the dome of St Paul's from your comfortable bar stool vantage point.

Tate Kitchen and Bar, Tate Modern, Bankside, SE1 9TG
Good for: the view

Pharmacy 2 at Newport Street Gallery

Damien Hirst has designed a gallery café? Yep and it's got 90s YBA cool written all over it. Riffing off his 'Pharmacy' installations, the restaurant at Newport Street Gallery allows diners to experience the art of one our most famous living artists as they eat.

Featuring works from Hirst's collection, including Medicine Cabinets and Butterfly Kaleidoscope, no expense has been spared with marble inlaid flooring and a stainless steel and glass vitrine incorporated into the bar. Pharmacy 2 stays open after the gallery closes serving a mix of classic British and European food.

Pharmacy 2, Newport Street Gallery, Newport St, SE11 6AJ
Good for: dinner with a dash of art world sophistication.

Barbican Kitchen

Photo: John Carey

After you've emerged breathless from yet another immersive installation of cutting-edge contemporary art at Barbican's Curve Gallery, head straight to the Kitchen on the same level for a hearty meal deal. The hot food counter is like the best school dinner you ever had, offering massive slices of  pizza from the wood-fire oven and a variety of meat and two veg options. Just like the rest of the complex, this is freelancer heaven, with excellent wi-fi, plenty of space to get out your laptop and a relaxed 'you definitely haven't bought anything in the last hour but that's fine' vibe.

Barbican Kitchen, Barbican Centre, Silk Street, EC2Y 8DS
Good for: remote working

Ragged Kitchen at Beaconsfield Gallery

Since 1995, Beaconsfield Gallery has been operating as a trailblazing artist-run space in an old school building in Vauxhall. Once you've had enough of exploring the eclectic programme of experimental installations, performances, photography and residencies, head to Ragged Kitchen for fairtrade tea and free art magazines. A fantastic find for veggies on a budget, it offers ethically sourced seasonal options that cater for gluten free and vegan diets as well, hand-made cakes, organic coffee and the kind of down to earth community feel that gallery café dreams are made of.

Ragged Kitchen, Beaconsfield Gallery, 22 Newport Street, SE11 6AY
Good for: veggie options

The Keeper's House Restaurant

The Keeper’s House Restaurant, Royal Academy of Arts © Arcaid Images

Got a relative that needs spoiling? Combine a trip to the RA's latest blockbuster with a good old-fashioned spread at its more formal restaurant. We're talking linen table cloths, pristine white leather sofas and walls hung with marble sculptures. It's situated in a lower ground location underneath the hallowed halls of the art world establishment and prices are very reasonable for fine dining with a seasonal British menu. Naturally, this includes a delectable afternoon tea with finger sandwiches, mini cakes and of course, that most heavenly of all traditional combos; clotted cream, strawberry jam and scones, all for around £20 (or you can add a glass of J.P. Deville Carte Noir Champagne for a little bit extra).

The Keeper's House Restaurant Royal Academy, Burlington House, Piccadilly, Mayfair, W1J OBJ
Good for: afternoon tea on a special occasion.