With so many fascinating museums to explore in London, planning a lunch break into your itinerary isn’t often a high priority. Make scheduling a whole lot easier (and more delicious) by visiting one of these top museum cafés. From the famous V&A Café, where the setting is an attraction all of its own, to the restaurant at Tate Modern, where unbelievable panoramas come for free, here’s our pick of the best places to refuel during a museum day in London.
Dining and culture collide at the V&A Café, a stunning setting that’s guaranteed to make you rethink your preconceptions of museum eateries. Three magnificent ‘refreshment rooms’ (named Gamble, Morris and Poytner after their designers) tempt guests with freshly baked goods and grand Victorian interiors: we’re talking intricate ceilings, towering columns, globe chandeliers and stained glass windows. V&A Café, located at the Victoria and Albert Museum, also has a beautiful garden courtyard, a concealed oasis in the middle of the museum.
After gazing at historic paintings in the National Portrait Gallery, bring your mind back to the modern day at the Portrait Restaurant and Bar. The contemporary eatery, which overlooks Trafalgar Square, serves up some of the best views of the city. Pick a window seat and tick off sights such as the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, The London Eye and Nelson’s Column and as you dine on British and European flavours. The restaurant is open all day, so whether you’re looking for a light breakfast or lunch, an indulgent afternoon tea, or dinner with a view, there’s something for everyone at any time of day.
A highlight of the Southbank when it comes to contemporary culture, the Tate Modern is high up on the bucket list of most culture vultures in London. Tate Modern Restaurant is the museum’s riverside bistro. From its seventh-floor location, the eatery offers Instagrammable views of the city and many of its most iconic sights, starting with St Paul’s Cathedral, which lies directly over the water. If you can drag your gaze away from the windows, you’ll discover a menu of seasonal British cuisine, complemented by the specially-commissioned artwork that lines the restaurant walls.
Refined yet casual, Great Court Restaurant makes our list of leading museums restaurants and cafés in London due to its captivating setting and creative culinary offerings. Located under a striking Foster and Partners glass roof, the eatery serves seasonal lunches, afternoon tea and, on Fridays only, dinner. As well as the normal menu, there’s a special menu themed around the museum’s current exhibits. Tying in with the current American Dream exhibit (9th March – 18th June 2017) is the American Dream menu, filled with American favourites such as Manhattan clam chowder, Buffalo chicken, San Francisco crayfish roll and Boston cream pie.
The Keeper’s House at The Royal Academy is almost as important as the museum that houses it. The restaurant-café-cocktail bar-garden is known for its ever-changing collections of artworks, many of which are available to buy. As you dine, gaze at works by Royal Academicians as well as pieces by emerging and established names in the contemporary art world. Depending on their mood, guests can choose between six characterful spaces, including a casual café, an intimate lounge, a cocktail bar, a garden, a formal dining space and a member’s only club.