The Keeper’s most important role is to inspire a new generation of artists
LONDON: Exclusive dining and a menu of exotic cocktails is not something you immediately associate with the Royal Academy. But that is exactly what the refurbished Keepers House can offer. Previously unavailable to the public this hidden gem has abundances of culinary treats in a creative and exclusive environment.
The Royal Academy has compiled both the food and the drinks menus in what is the best-hidden secret.
Historically the Keepers House was the residence for the Royal Academy of Art’s keeper and it provided studios for a select few artists. The Keeper’s most important role was/is to inspire a new generation of artists. Modern Keepers don’t live here anymore and this has enabled the Royal Academy to redevelop the space and for the first time in 2013 made it open to the public.
Bar and lush garden
The Keepers House now consists of a restaurant, a bar with cocktails, a lush garden and the Academician´ room. Architects Long & Kentish were in charge of the refurbishment and architect David Chipperfield in charge of the interiors.
They were also able to restore the original vaults in the basement dating back to the 1660’s and a visit to the ladies loo, which is located in one of these vaults, is an absolute must for the ladies. Landscape designer Tom Stuart-Smith designed a magical and lush garden located next to the Shenkman bar providing a quiet haven away from the busy Piccadilly.
Indulge in cocktails like “Burlington Cobbler”, “Once upon a time in Academy”, “An Artist’s Progress”, “Himalayan Mule” and I am frankly not sure which is more British of “Frankly, My Dear” or “Evening Tea”. Experienced bartender Francesco Greco recommends “Mai Tai” especially for King Goya, based on dark vintage rum.
The menu in the restaurant offers mouth watering starters like ‘Scallop tartar with coriander, chilli and lime”. Others like “Feathered game terrine” and “Steak Tartar with quail egg and shallot cream”, which is the best Steak Tartar I have tasted for a long time.
The main courses
Dishes like “Artichoke Tortellini, “Watercress and pecorino”, “Red leg Partridge, cavolo nero and Kentish cobnuts”, “Lemon sole on the bone, sauted spinach, capers and gherkins” and the “Cod, courgettes, clams and sauce mariniere”, which was absolutely superb. The main courses range from £14-£21.
The Supper Club has a monthly event offering exclusive dining to a set menu accompanied by wine and drinks. There was of course a specially created menu in connection with the amazing Ai Weiwei exhibition. And in connection with exhibition of “Painting the modern garden: Monet to Matisse” they had menus based on Monet’s own recipe book. Certainly one to look out for.
The Academician´ room is a private members club open to all. The designer, Martin Brudnizki, wanted the interior to have a homey living room feel to it. There is a mixture of sofas and chairs and a selection of Royal Academician´ pieces of art on the wall. MB was able to restore original old wall panels, which still have the nail holes from artwork being hung. The chandeliers and some floor lamps were specifically designed for the room. A membership will give you and friends exclusive access to the Academicians’ room.
For sure, London has some hidden treasures.
Inspiration: 48 Hours in Cotswolds