Royal Academy Restaurant, more than just paintings
I wanted to catch the Watteau exhibition at the Royal Academy. My ‘friends’ membership is really under used, I carry on paying for it partly in support of what I see as a great British Institution and partly because I love the eclectic insanity that is called ‘The Summer Exhibition’. But, I have made a pact with myself to try to get to see a few more of the shows, so when a friend suggested meeting up on Friday evening, I took the opportunity to suggest a quick tour of Watteau and then supper at the relatively newly refurbished restaurant Oliver Peyton restaurant there.
Although the drawings in the exhibition were clearly excellent quality, I came away feeling a little uninspired. Generally I like the RA, other than during the summer exhibition when overcrowding is all part of the game, their exhibitions are well presented and not over crowded, either with paintings or people! This one felt a little too full of drawings, a little lacking in background information and, for an art ignoramous like me, totally lacking in any ‘big’ pictures that explained the significance of the drawings. Having said that, the detail in the pictures was astonishing and the range of subject matter remarkable.
The restaurant was a rather plush bistro affair, tables perhaps a little too close together but nicely decorated and, since there were very few people there when we arrived, it didn’t feel at all crowded. We both found the menu a little confusing. Food was listed as ‘Vegetables/Meat/Fish/Sides/Desserts’ and it was not clear what was intended to be a main course and what was a starter. Some of the ‘vegetables were clearly ‘vegetables+’ (asparagus with ham and a duck egg yolk for instance). We both found that slightly irritating. In the end we decided that anything under £10 must be a starter and anything over was intended as a main course!
We ordered a truffled ravioli and crab salad to start. The ravioli came with shavings of fresh truffle and a saffron infused sauce. It was perfectly al dente and really excellent. The crab salad was a lovely citrus (lime I think) and coriander infused mixture on a bed of watercress. Not for the faint hearted, it would have been plenty for me as a main course, but my companion has a larger appetite than mine and polished it off admirably. Calves liver came with bacon and mashed potato and was perhaps just a little over cooked, but very tender. The salmon trout en pappilotte was fabulous, served with herbs and cherry tomatoes. The wine list was reasonably priced and there were plenty of options by the glass.
I am aware this is a relatively recent refurbishment and is not liked by many of the old RA friends. But since I didn’t visit the restaurant in it’s previous guise I can’t really comment. We both enjoyed the evening and rated the food as more than adequate, although not overwhelmingly outstanding. The bill for 2, including a glass of wine and of was around £75