Nowadays, the boundary between food and wine is becoming increasingly blurred – if the food itself isn’t worthy of a photo then the restaurant’s interior design probably is. If you want more from your meal than just a full stomach and slightly lighter wallet then why not visit one of the restaurants below, who each have as much of name for themselves in the art world as they do in the restaurant world. From iconic Damien Hirst installations to masterpieces from old Scottish masters, read on to see where you can get a dose of art with your starter – no crowded gallery required.
Old Street (0.3 miles)
What: Damien Hirst's Cock and Bull
Why: If you don’t fancy the idea of tucking into a steak whilst being looked down on by a huge Hereford cow and cockerel then Mark Hix’s Tramshed probably isn’t the one for you. Alternatively you could request a table with your back to the Damien Hirst installation, but it is part of the experience – and the vast formaldehyde tank is pretty hard to avoid as it dominates the vast former tram shed. To compliment the ‘Cock and Bull’, a Hirst painting imaginatively titled ‘Beef and Chicken’ hangs on the mezzanine level.
Where: 32 Rivington Street, London, EC2A 3LX
Holborn (0.2 miles)
What: Original British Caricatures
Why: Named after the British caricaturist and artist, Gerald Scarfe, Scarfes Bar in the Rosewood acts as a permanent exhibition space to display his original sketches, prints and paintings. Antique books compliment the art, specially selected by an antiques dealer from Portobello Road, with comfy armchairs and cosy areas making it feel like a homely drawing room-meets-gentleman’s club.
Where: Rosewood London, High Holborn, London
Dean Street Townhouse
Tottenham Court Road (0.4 miles)
What: Art and History
Why: When Dean Street Townhouse commissioned artists to pick up their paintbrushes and create art for their walls, they decided to shun the usual form of payment in return for stays at the hotel whenever the artist fancies a good night’s sleep. The boutique hotel has art across its 39 bedrooms as well as in its blood; Matisse’s L’Atelier Rouge used to hang on the wall and Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud used to count it as a regular haunt, back when it was the Gargoyle Club. Soho House took over in 2008 and the arty associations live on.
Where: 69-71 Dean Street, London, W1D 3SE
What: Art’s in the Name
Why: With a name like theirs, it’s no surprise that the walls of Artist Residence are decked out with contemporary and cutting edge art from artists including Dan Baldwin and Dave White. The art continues in the downstairs bar, Clarendon Cocktail Cellar, creatively themed drinks include an alcoholic take on Munch’s The Scream and Warhol’s soup can in Bloody Mary form, whilst hanging art comes from the Lawrence Alkin Contemporary Art Gallery, over near Tottenham Court Road.
Where: 52 Cambridge Street, Pimlico, SW1V 4QQ
What: One of London's Most Expensive Art Collections
Why: Sexy Fish didn’t land in town subtly – about as subtle as the 15,000 litre fish tank and 13ft metal wire crocodile that makes up the suitably aquatic-themed art collection. Damien Hirst and Frank Gehry are amongst the artists who have contributed works which make the art in Sexy Fish one of the most expensive collections of a London restaurant. The nine-course tasting menu doesn’t come cheap either, but when the restaurant in question cost £15 million that doesn’t come as much of a surprise.
Where: Berkeley Square House, Berkeley Square, Mayfair, W1J 6BR
What: The Hirst and Hix Collaboration Continues
Why: The Hirst/Hix collaboration continues, this time in an unassuming corner of Vauxhall. Pharmacy 2 follows in the footsteps of Hirst’s previous culinary venture, Pharmacy, but this time it’s located in the Newport Street Gallery. The gallery itself plays host to many of Hirst’s pieces, continuing through to the restaurant where Medicine Cabinets and recognisable butterfly Kaleidoscope paintings occupy the space.
Where: Newport Street Gallery, Newport Street, SE11 6AJ
Boisdale of Belgravia
London Victoria (0.2 miles)
What: Traditional Scottish Art
Why: The deep red walls of Boisdale of Belgravia are reminiscent of a distant uncle’s drawing room in his Scottish estate (we wish) – basically, they are perfect for hanging the odd gilded frame from. Whilst the walls are dotted with paintings and photographs, there are a couple of pieces of particular interest and both by Scotsmen; Sir Henry Raeburn’s ‘18th Chief of Clanranald’, worth £50,000-60,000 and John Duncan Fergusson’s ‘Lady in Biarritz’, worth £12,000-15,000 both hang in the Macdonald Bar.
Where: 15 Eccleston Street, London, SW1W 9LX