Restaurant at the Royal Academy

  • Restaurants
  • British
0 Love It

Oliver Peyton used to be the most innovative restaurateur in London, launching a string of brave and cult restaurants through the ’90s and noughties – the fabulous Atlantic Bar & Grill, Coast and Isola, among many others.

These were all slightly too far ahead of the curve, and subsequently closed. In recent years, Peyton’s new catering operations have been less ambitious, and largely restricted to art galleries.

The Restaurant at the Royal Academy, run by his Peyton & Byrne catering company, is a natural extension of places such as the National Dining Rooms (in the National Gallery). The setting, with high, vaulted ceilings, frescoes and pillars, is marvellous despite the car-boot-sale lighting installed by designer Tom Dixon.

The menu’s proudly British, seasonal, and far more avant garde than it needs to be, judging by the conservative-looking Mayfair-on-Friday diners on our visit.

Starters included a tangle of shaved fennel and celeriac, served over a poached egg with a citruous dressing; for us the flavours didn’t quite gel. A starter of pumpkin soufflé was granular and dense, more like a muffin in texture, served with a drizzle of blue cheese sauce.

A tiny breaded chop of venison was served with a gamily pungent venison sausage and some sugar-lump-sized gnocchi for £19. Even a smallish plate pecorino-filled ravioli cost £13.50, although it came with generous shavings of fresh black truffle on top.

A pudding entitled ’strudel reinterpration’ had been ‘reinterpreted’ as too-firm apple cubes, a tiny scoop of ice-cream and a strip of flaky pastry for £6.50. Artistic, perhaps, but not very satisfying to eat.

If the dishes cost two-thirds of the price charged, this could be a contender. But –and not for the first time – Peyton’s place is trying a little too hard, then expecting customers to pay over the odds for experiments that don’t always suceed. In contrast, the busy Peyton & Byrne café right next door is affordable, and quite good.

Venue name: Restaurant at the Royal Academy
Address: Royal Academy of Arts
Burlington House
Cross street: Piccadilly
Opening hours: Open 10am-5.45pm Mon-Thur; 10am-10.45pm Fri, Sat; 10am-5.45pm Sun
Transport: Tube: Green Park or Piccadilly Circus tube
Price: Meal for two with wine and service: around £100
Do you own this business?

Average User Rating

1 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:0
  • 4 star:0
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:3
1 person listening
Joss B

While it is some time since i have been, probably 2 or 3 years, if the restaurant is still under the same management then beware and take full account of the bellow comments. There is little to say other than the pasta i had here was frankly appalling and had to be sent back to be replaced with an equally appalling plate of pasta. The pasta was so over cooked that it turned to a thick mush in the mouth and stuck to your teeth. What was even more disappointing, was that the waitress claimed on both occasions the pasta was bought, that the pasta was cooked as it was meant to be. In fact Oliver Peyton was their during my visit and this did not make the food or otherwise friendly service any better, or if it was better it makes one fear for what normal service was like. 

John Knight

Dreadful, dreadful, dreadful. Had to return calves liver twice as it was grossly overcooked. Third time lucky? Not so. Inedible. Gave up and got a refund. Don't go to this dreadful place. Avoid at all costs.


Disappointing; tired decor in a fabulous space. Expensive and limited menu verging on cafe food. Service friendly but incompetent. The best thing about it is that because it is so naff and expensive you can get a late booking on a Saturday night