Here Are 3 Art-Filled Restaurants in London That Offer a Feast for the Eyes as Well as the Stomach
The food news you need, just in time for Frieze Week.
Lately, the art world and the food world have been converging in London. Frieze co-founders Amanda Sharp and Matthew Slotover opened a restaurant-bar-bakery-grocery at 180 The Strand; Sketch invited artist Yinka Shonibare to reimagine its iconic Gallery restaurant; and gallerists Iwan and Manuela Wirth have turned a Victorian building in Mayfair into a culinary and contemporary art destination—just in time for Frieze Week.
Here’s the scoop on each spot.
Between Hauser & Wirth Somerset’s Roth Bar & Grill and the art-filled Fife Arms hotel in Braemar, Scotland, Artfarm—Iwan and Manuela Wirth’s hospitality venture—has been bringing the art world to the British countryside. Now, the brand has arrived in London. With Paris-based architect Luis Laplace, the Wirths have turned a Victorian building in Mayfair into a culinary and contemporary art destination. September saw the opening of the Audley Public House, a restored version of the original pub on the ground level that serves draft beers, ciders, Scotch eggs, and sausage rolls under a collaged-mosaic ceiling by British artist Phyllida Barlow. Artworks by Martin Creed (Work No. 671 (Friends), 2007) and Rodney Graham (A Glass of Beer, 2005) complete the setting.
This week marks the opening of Mount St. Restaurant upstairs, where the menus feature updated London classics (think smoked eel and potato salad, mock turtle croquette, and lobster pie) with ingredients sourced from British farmers, growers, and makers. American artist Matthew Day Jackson designed the chairs; the salt and pepper shakers were inspired by Paul McCarthy’s Tree (2014) sculpture; and Matisse’s Éperlans (Smelts) (1920) and Warhol’s Lobster (1982) adorn the walls. The mosaic-marble floor is a commission from American artist Rashid Johnson.
The Audley is at 41-43 Mount St.
The Gallery at Sketch has become known both for its pink-hued interiors and its high-profile artist collaborations, not to mention its lunch, dinner, and afternoon tea menus from chefs Frédéric Don and Pierre Gagnaire. Over the past decade, founder Mourad Mazouz has invited the likes of Martin Creed and David Shrigley to reimagine the Mayfair restaurant as a work of art. This year—its 20th—Mazouz gave carte blanche to Yinka Shonibare CBE RA, whose colorful oeuvre grapples with colonialism and post-colonial identity while illuminating Africa’s influence on European art and culture.
The British-Nigerian artist created 15 site-specific works for the restaurant: five hand-painted wooden masks and 10 framed quilts that replicate African masks found in Pablo Picasso’s collection. (“Cultural appropriation can be a two-way street,” Shonibare said in a statement.) He also designed ceramic tableware with British brand Caverswall, featuring a Dutch wax batik pattern frequently incorporated into his artworks. Meanwhile, India Mahdavi—the Paris-based architect, designer, and scenographer responsible for the restaurant’s original pink design—created a golden backdrop for Shonibare’s Modern Magic installation, collaborating with craftspeople from the African continent while tapping Senegalese textile designer Aissa Dione for its metallic copper wallpaper.
Sketch is at 9 Conduit St.
The Wirths aren’t the only art-worlders venturing into hospitality. Last fall, Frieze founders Amanda Sharp and Matthew Slotover opened Toklas, a restaurant, bar, bakery, and grocery at the Brutalist cultural destination that is 180 The Strand. (They have since also unveiled the art-filled Fort Road Hotel in Margate, a seaside resort town in Kent.) Toklas is named after the writer and a cookbook author Alice B. Toklas, who, with her partner Gertrude Stein, was known as the consummate dinner-party host.
With its tomatoes and eggplants glistening by a pool, Wolfgang Tillmans’s oversize Pomodoro (1993) presides over the dining room. There, chef Yohei Furuhashi (recently plucked from the River Café) serves simple, seasonal, daily changing dishes like risotto verde with nettle and almond-and-loquat tart with crème fraîche. The bar serves classic cocktails with a twist—the gimlet-like Alice and Gertrude is a tribute to the spot’s namesake—while displaying Sharpe’s and Slotover’s collection of posters from major art exhibitions of the past half century.
Toklas is at 1 Surrey St, Temple.
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