Glowing above a side door of Burlington House, a green neon sign flickers ‘Keep me safe’. Tracey Emin’s artwork lights the way to the home of the Academy’s ‘keeper’, the nineteenth-century townhouse features artworks by Academicians, as well as a bar, lounge garden, and basement restaurant.
Downstairs, the dining room is decked out with felty walls coloured pool-table green. The lighting is low and the white blanquettes plush, giving it a cosy feel at first. But there’s a reason why many of the well-to-do women don’t deign to remove their fur accessories. It’s chilly thanks to vents on the floor blasting out cold air. The gallery, not the restaurant, controls them.
The latest in Peyton & Byrne’s collection of art gallery eateries, the menu features an array of seasonal ingredients such as rowan berries or rosehips. Cooking here is precise, with all the meat and fish we tried (scallops, sweetbreads, hare) handled beautifully. The odd element jarred though, such as the lemon charcoal on a dish of scallops with celeriac purée – it was so incinerated it could have been made from pretty much anything.
For a touch of glamour in an art institution, it makes an enjoyable visit with attentive staff and interesting dishes and wines. Just wrap up warm.
NB chef Ollie Couillaud took over the kitchen early in 2014. Expect the cooking to change, and possibly improve.