Artsy Dining At Ochre, The National Gallery’s All Day Dining Destination

By Charlie Colville

7 months ago

All that gallery hopping works up an appetite


While sightseeing in London, the last thing you want to do is trek across the city on weary feet. It’s a good thing then that tasty dishes come in spades at Ochre, The National Gallery’s buzzy in-house restaurant. Charlie Colville checks out the winter menu at this central city hotspot.

Review: Ochre, The National Gallery

Trafalgar Square is a hub of activity at pretty much every hour of the day – but arguably more so in winter. Backdropped by a blanket of stars, the square comes alive in the evenings with festive market stalls, street performers and the constant throng of tourists taking in the city sights. And sitting above all the hubbub is The National Gallery, one of London’s most iconic museums. While the gallery may close at 6pm on weekdays, a wing of it does stay awake well into the night: Ochre, The National Gallery’s main restaurant.

Tucked away on the North East corner of Trafalgar Square, Ochre is the brainchild of husband-wife team Charlotte and Sam Miller (the duo behind Muriel’s Kitchen) and serves up an eclectic menu showcasing food and ingredients grown, farmed and fished in the UK. While (physically) attached to The National Gallery, the restaurant is growing in popularity as a dining spot in its own right – and with its prime location and tasty dishes, we can see why.

I’d only been to Ochre once before, for a breakfast date in the summer. Where the sun’s rays cast the the open floor of the restaurant into perpetual golden hour in June, a visit in December comes with low, amber lighting, seasonal foliage, fairy lights and Christmas trees.

Christmas private dining room

We’ve arrived just in time to test out the winter menu, packed with moreish Christmas dishes as well as plenty of wintery treats. When it comes to drinks, we recommend kicking things off with one of Ochre’s signature cocktails – all with names linked to famous artworks in the gallery – like The Laughing Cavalier (a warming blend of pear and orange vodka, spiced syrup, ginger and apple foam), or, if there’s something to celebrate, a glass of crisp champagne.

Drink in hand, it’s time to tuck into some snacks. Pick your way through warm slices of sourdough bread slathered in salted butter, crispy cheese croquettes and snap-tastic pork crackling, or snap up something a little more decadent like the Jersey rock oysters or Exmoor Cornish caviar. Whatever you choose, you can expect an exciting taste of what’s to come.

Plates of food

Starters similarly favour seafood and vegetarian options, with highlights including creamy London burrata served up with tangy cubes of beetroot and horseradish and a colourful plate of shredded Cornish crab topped with fennel, grapefruit and golden-hued kohlrabi.

Onto the mains, which are styled as elevated (and hearty) comfort dishes. Tuck into a big bowl of braised beef mafalde pasta topped with gooey Bermondsey cheese, sink your teeth into sizeable fired pollock bun (aka, the ultimate fish finger sarnie) or give the restaurant’s signature cauliflower a go – roasted and fried in tempura, and coated in curry sauce. While the dishes on their own certainly stand the test of a good appetite, they’re made all the more tempting when paired up with one of Ochre’s sides which span from salad and veggies to buttered potatoes and curry sauce-drenched fries. (Note: while salad is the recommended accompaniment to pasta, pink fir potatoes doused in chive butter taste equally as good.)

Room for more? You certainly won’t want to miss pudding. With winter in full swing, the focus is on rich, moreish desserts – but that doesn’t mean they’re too heavy after and evening of eating. For lighter dishes, opt for a serving of the pavlova or chocolate mouse. Or, if something slightly heavier doesn’t phase you, do what we did and try the ultimate British classic, sticky toffee pudding, doused in toffee sauce, caramelised pecans and offset by a generous dollop of Cornish clotted cream. This is a pudding that has all of the luxuries of a good pudd while still boasting a light sponge.

Restaurant with a Christmas tree

The Final Word

It’s a given that you’ll find many masterpieces in The National Gallery – but the artworks you won’t be able to take your eye off will be the ones on your plate.

BOOK

You can book your table via the restaurant’s website. In need of NYE plans? Ochre has a snazzy three-course lunch experience you can book now, priced from £65 per person.

National Gallery, Trafalgar Sq, London WC2N 5DN | ochre.london

Images courtesy of Ochre