With their groundbreaking artwork displays, it’s unsurprising that the Saatchi Gallery is one of the most popular cultural attractions in London. However, I have always been dubious about restaurants associated with museums and tourist attractions; they tend to be of a rather generic, cookie-cutter variety, so it was an extremely pleasant surprise when I visited the smart, upscale Gallery Mess at The Saatchi Gallery.
The serene surroundings and charming atmosphere were easy to warm to. The exposed brickwork, high vaulted ceilings, and crisp white linen helped to focus the emphasis on the artwork hung on the walls as well as the food they serve. They also have a spacious al fresco terrace overlooking The Green, which is ideal for corporate events or celebratory parties.
The menu has a deceptively simple and classic look but has been carefully prepared by the exceptional catering team at Rhubarb to bring delightful culinary surprises.
For starters, I tried a refreshing salmon tartare which was well interspersed with cucumber relish and tasty spots of caviar crème fraîche. This dish would have traditionally been served as smoked salmon on pumpernickel, but the tartare version here was a clever and welcome twist to a classic.
I had wanted to try their roast sea trout as it was served with a curious sounding raisin and curry dressing, but unfortunately, it was sold out. Nevertheless, I got to try a superbly well-executed duck confit and a dauphinoise potato brimming with fantastic flavours of cheese and thinly sliced potatoes. The addition of sweet and sour cherries helped to add more complex layers of taste to the dish.
A side dish of purple sprouting broccoli was well-sourced and cleverly paired with chimichurri and flaked almonds. Although any of the other options could have easily tempted me too including pink fir potatoes, maple glazed ironbark pumpkin and red wine glazed salsify with clementine jam.
This is one of those venues where you have to save room for desserts. Crémeux has been the new darling of pastry chefs in recent times and the raspberry and chocolate version here is outstanding. It is a dense, super-chocolaty pudding that has been expertly constructed with a welcome layer of sweet raspberries on top. The presence of the raspberry sorbet really helped to make the dessert seem less heavy and this is one dish I would happily go back and enjoy even for afternoon tea whilst having a quick stroll through their galleries.
It’s hardly surprising that Rhubarb is going from strength to strength on this showing and their new restaurant VIVI at Centrepoint is one to look out for in 2018.