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Published 24/01/2011 email E-MAIL print PRINT

Starred restaurant

Royal Academy of Arts, London

by ANNA McNAY

It seems to be a peculiar feature of the Royal Academy that some of its most alluring works of art are to be found in unexpected places, outside the main galleries. Take, for example, its prize treasure, The Virgin and Child with the Infant St John, also known as the Taddei Tondo, Britain’s only Michelangelo sculpture, located behind you at the top of the stairs to the Sackler Wing.

And now, from 19th January 2011, the redesigned 150 cover restaurant, the sixth in Oliver Peyton’s impressive repertoire (including The Wallace Collection and The National Café and Dining Rooms), offers an extra gallery’s worth of treats of its own. Old RA aficionados may well know the featured murals by Fred Appleyard, Harold Speed, Gilbert Spencer and Leonard Rosoman, but with the walls now painted a pale grey, they have become so much more prominent that RA Secretary and Chief Executive, Charles Saumarez Smith, was asked whether they were themselves new!

They are lit by a mass of digitally etched brass pendant lights and a dramatic cast glass chandelier suspended above the full wall length bar of Mount Etna lava stone and hand-made glazed brick. These form a focal point of the new décor, by interior design practice, Design Research Studio, under the direction of British designer Tom Dixon. He has carefully chosen materials to complement the existing fabric of the Regency building. In addition are the striking glass cube showcases, standing free in the centre, which display a selection of sculptures and busts by Royal Academicians dating back to 1897, previously not on view to the public, making the restaurant worth a visit even were there not the further temptation of a reasonably priced three course meal, a lighter selection of tapas, or a traditional afternoon tea. The carefully designed menu was produced together by Oliver Peyton and head chef Andrea Zuccolo, using prime British ingredients. Over 20 wines will be available by the glass, and bottles with labels designed by contemporary artists, including Gary Hume, Tracey Emin, and Michael Craig-Martin, are soon be added to the list. They will also available to take home.

The restaurant is open seven days a week, with late opening on Friday and Saturday evenings. See www.ra-ra.co.uk for further information.



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