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The Whitechapel Refectory (CLOSED)

Restaurants, Cafés Whitechapel
The Whitechapel Refectory

Time Out says

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Please note, The Whitechapel Refectory is now closed. It has been replaced by a new restaurant, called Townsend, on the same site. Time Out Food editors, March 2020.

As part of the changing of the culinary guard at the Whitechapel Gallery, the old café has been taken over by Luke Wilson and Cameron Emirali, founders of 8 Hoxton Square and 10 Greek Street. Not only that, but they’ve gone for the double and split the existing business in two: in the evenings, the wood-panelled café space is a pretty great wine and charcuterie joint called After Hours. During the day it’s a gallery café called The Whitechapel Refectory.

Though the civilised gallery café atmosphere hasn’t changed much under the new regime, the daytime rebrand isn’t cosmetic. There’s a new approach to the food, too, with a varied menu that changes daily. The kitchen was closed when I dropped in at around 4pm, meaning no hot food for late lunchers. But the cold selection was lovely: a big wholemeal salt beef sandwich (nodding to nearby Brick Lane); a strong aubergine salad with sweet potato, roasted garlic and unexpected cumin and fennel; and, to finish, a delicious prune and almond frangipane. Granola bars, breakfast pastries and other good-looking baked bits are also available, and the coffee’s lovely. There’s nothing really cutting-edge about the Refectory – it’s more William Morris than Eduardo Paolozzi. But for hungry art lovers it’s a nifty new pit-stop.


Address: Whitechapel Gallery
77-82 Whitechapel High Street
E1 7QX
Price: Lunch for two with drinks (no service): around £30.
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