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A taste of culture

Feed body and mind and take a seat at one of these museum restaurants. Anna Berrill finds the dining destinations where the food on the plate is worthy of the art on the walls

Rijks, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

Nestled in the Philips Wing of this Dutch art and history museum in the south of Amsterdam, the dishes at RIJKS are patriotic references to the country’s indigenous ingredients and the international influences that have become established here. Keeping the restaurant in line with the exhibits was key to museum director Wim Pijbes, who felt RIJKS should display a strong Dutch influence. Inventive small plates from chef Joris Bijdendijk change weekly and range from fermented celeriac ceviche to langoustine with oyster cream, and a local spin on Peking duck. The dining room itself is sleek, with blue-grey tones accented by oak and marble, while the outdoor terrace comes into its own when the sun shines. Echoing the rotating exhibitions in the museum, RIJKS invites guest chefs into the kitchen throughout the year – previous visitors have included Berlin’s Tim Raue. Here, there are more Dutch masters than those simply hanging on the walls.

Rijksmuseum 2014 John Lewis Marshall 01 Jpeg

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PRICE: £33 for three-course set lunch

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Nerua, Guggenheim Bilbao

With cool white walls and crockery to match, this fresh and open space mirrors the museum’s architecture. Indicative of the high-gastronomy restaurants of northern Spain, chef Josean Alija’s dishes are a modernist representation of the art on show. Using just two or three ingredients, the small but striking plates are always more than the sum of their parts and it’s little wonder that the restaurant holds a Michelin star. Choose between five and 18 courses, which could include the signature duck foie gras with candied carrots, fried hake with stewed water spinach, or turnip tatin with fenugreek. While flavours stay true to the Mediterranean style, there are flashes of inspiration, from the use of pumpkin-seed praline to green coffee essence. The wine list has a number of excellent local bins that are well worth trying.

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PRICE: £70 for five-course tasting menu

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The Dining Room, Spritmuseum Stockholm

It will come as no surprise that a museum dedicated to booze should have an impressive restaurant, too. In the heart of the waterfront museum on the island of Djurgarden, chef Petter Nilsson (who ran one of the best creative neo-bistros in Paris, La Gazetta, for seven years) serves up elegant yet unfussy dishes that showcase the top produce sourced from organic farms or foraged in the woods. Take a seat in the open-plan dining room for bright plates of pike-perch with pointy cabbage, fermented Brussels sprouts soup, and clementine semi-freddo.

Skylt Med Gröna Lund Tiff

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PRICE: £88 for eight-course tasting menu

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Parabola, Design museum London

A meal at Parabola is an aesthetically pleasing affair. Named to honour the building’s curved roof, the elegant windows, clean lines and white linen continue the museum’s celebration of design, while plates of seasonal British fare are just what we’ve come to expect from celebrated chef Rowley Leigh. With views of both the show-stopping central atrium and Holland Park on offer, bag a cosy booth or perch at the pewter- topped bar and order dishes of seared venison, pickled girolles and horseradish, salt-baked celeriac with cavolo nero, salt lemons and roast garlic cream, or brill, clams and champ. The cocktail bar serves ten classics alongside a regularly changing list of inventive tipples, many of which are inspired by the herbs and botanicals found in the nearby Kyoto Garden. For those looking for something softer, there are sparkling shrubs, kombucha and sodas, too.

Seafood Canapes Parabola

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PRICE: Mains from £9

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Rochelle canteen, Institute of Contemporary Arts London

When Stefan Kalmár took over as director of The Institute of Contemporary Arts on The Mall in 2017, he stripped the grand building back to its former modernist simplicity, implementing a new programme of exhibitions, films and talks. The bare- bones style and solid, sustaining cooking of East London’s justly popular Rochelle Canteen makes for a brilliant marriage. Melanie Arnold and Margot Henderson’s daily-changing menu of seasonal European dishes takes ingredients to the point of rusticity, with highlights including roast brill and lentils, fennel sausages with polenta, Barnsley chops with black broccoli, and meringue, quince and honey cream. Flavour is at the fore.

Skate Aioli

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PRICE: Mains from £6.50

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Untitled, The Whitney Museum of American Art New York

This is the second art museum in the city to choose Danny Meyer to run its restaurant – the Museum of Modern Art being the other. Designed by star architect Renzo Piano, the glass-encased dining space on the ground floor of this Meatpacking District museum sits adjacent to the leafy High Line public park. Dishes reflect the creativity of the work on display, with seasonality being the priority, along with a sprinkling of influences from South East Asia to the American South. Come summertime, the terrace is transformed into the city’s most picturesque cocktail spot, which just adds to the restaurant’s status as a destination in its own right.

Untitled Interior Day Tim Schenck

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PRICE: Mains from £16.50

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Café, V&A London

The trio of opulent tea rooms – Gamble, Poynter and Morris – barely differ from how they were back in the mid-19th century (besides the odd new chandelier), offering a glimpse into late-Victorian London. The rooms reflect the eclectic tastes of the era: Morris is all dark teal-stained wood and gold painted panelling, Gamble is lofty and light, while Poynter is cosy with an impressive fox stained-glass window. Whichever you opt for, the food is exquisite, with hot and cold dishes ranging from rosemary flat-iron steak with chimichurri sauce, and hake with butter beans to sandwiches and salads – plus, a great array of cakes. It’s only open for dinner on Fridays.

Va Café © Victoria And Albert Museum London

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PRICE: Mains from £8.95

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National dining rooms, National Gallery London

Escape the bustle of Trafalgar Square and ascend the broad, pale-stone stairs to Oliver Peyton’s inviting first-floor dining room, in the quieter Sainsbury Wing of the National Gallery. With views over the square in one direction and of a vast Paula Rego mural in the other, it’s a formal enough spot for a special occasion but also makes a peaceful stop-off from perusing the works of Leonardo da Vinci, Renoir and Turner on the gallery walls. Dishes are light, artfully presented and make the most of seasonal ingredients (with some clever additions). The classic cakes should not be missed, either.

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PRICE: Mains from £12.50

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Rex Whistler, Tate Britain London

As full of character and culture as a Tate Britain exhibit, this aptly named restaurant comes wrapped in a full-sized Whistler mural, entitled The Expedition in Pursuit of Rare Meats. Distinctly British in style, plates such as roast fillet of beef with Madeira sauce, roasted Hampshire trout with capers and shrimp butter, and wild mushrooms on sourdough toast sit comfortably alongside more contemporary ideas, including roast salted hake with squid ink fries. However, the real draw here is the wine cellar. Decades of careful buying means that award-winning sommelier Hamish Anderson now boasts a wonderfully curated list. Pricing throughout represents great value. The restaurant is only open for lunch service.

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PRICE: £35.95 for three-course set lunch

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The Modern, Moma New York

Boasting two Michelin stars, The Modern has one of New York’s most prized locations, designed to capture the iconic feel of the museum in which it is seamlessly housed. While the art is one of the high points of the glass-lined dining room, the delicious dishes of Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group’s menu will win you over. Overlooking the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden, highlights cooked by executive chef Abram Bissell may include Comté-crusted beef with glazed celtuce ribbons and horseradish, and slow- cooked sea bass with braised beluga lentils and minestrone sauce, while delicately balanced top-quality ingredients are at their zenith in the lobster with glazed salsify and Royal Gala apples.

1 Mo Ma Facade Credit Timothy Hursley

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PRICE: £103 for three courses à la carte

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Otium, The Broad Los Angeles

Following 10 years at Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry, chef Timothy Hollingsworth set up Otium adjacent to The Broad. Flooded in natural light with accents of steel, copper and wood, the space balances elements of both old and new. The eclectic menu, which mirrors the contemporary artwork next door, makes best use of the on-site garden, wood-fire grills and rotisseries, with dishes including everything from khachapuri and tostadas, fettucine and Wagyu beef cheek with polenta, radicchio and dukkah, to classic French pâtisserie (think St Honoré and chocolate macarons), funnel cakes and ice cream sundaes.


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PRICE: Mains from £13.50

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Terzo piano, Art Institute of Chicago Chicago

Guarded by an iconic pair of bronze lions, you’ll find everything from ancient Greek sculpture to Japanese prints and classic paintings at the Art Institute of Chicago in the city’s Grant Park. For something more contemporary, head to the Modern Wing – a Renzo Piano-designed space that’s home to the architecture and design collection, contemporary art and restaurant Terzo Piano. While the focus in this minimalist and pristine space awash with light from the vast number of windows may be on Mediterranean plates by way of Italy, ingredients are sourced from the Midwest (think Wisconsin parmesan sprinkled over truffle-scented mozzarella). Dishes demonstrate the same simple elegance as the architecture and might include monkfish osso bucco, lobster tartine on sesame toast, and gnocchi with mushrooms, cured yolk and shaved truffles. Desserts are sure to delight with comfort classics including sticky toffee cake with malted white chocolate shard and drunken figs, and a tiramisu with chilli-chocolate sauce and spiced palmier round.

Terzo Piano Dining Room 3 Photo Credit Anthony Tahlier Photography

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PRICE: Mains from £14

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