The Tate has undergone a multimillion pound renovation, but nothing much has changed at Rex Whistler except the access route – down the impressive new art deco staircase. Whistler’s 1920s hunting-themed mural encircles the room in vibrant greens and golden browns, while tables are set traditionally with white napery. Like an old smoking jacket from a bygone era, Rex Whistler may be smart and comfortable, but it’s far from modern.
The dishes are solidly British. Hearty classics such as scallops with black pudding, haunch of venison with red cabbage, or roast partridge with a savoury parsley porridge are rendered well enough. But it must have been a dry day in Sussex on our visit as the pond pudding lacked the luxurious puddle of sweet lemon and butter sauce we’d hoped for.
The restaurant is open for lunch only, but if you want to make it a liquid lunch, award-winning sommelier Hamish Anderson is on hand to help you navigate the Tate’s extensive cellars, and the set menu comes with optional wine pairings at reasonable prices.