Located within the grand setting of the Royal Academy of Arts, The Restaurant at Keeper’s House was always going to be one step ahead of the competition from the outset; after all, who else could compete with the grandeur of one of Piccadilly’s most beautiful settings?
Keeper’s House is set within the stunning grounds of the Royal Academy of Arts. It’s a little tricky to find, tucked away as it is in the far corner of the sprawling courtyard, but when you do stumble across it you’ll find a space that plays upon the natural splendour of its setting.
The bar is vibrant and artistic in red with modern art splashed across the walls, while the green colour of the dining room is punctuated by large, heavy carvings taken from the Academy. Meanwhile, pristine tablecloths and comfortable yet well designed chairs and tables give the room the upmarket appeal that a restaurant of this type really needs.
Keeper’s House is every inch the fine dining restaurant with great service and an ambience designed to keep diners relaxed and happy. However, it can feel a little cold when half-full, becoming devoid of the oomph that you want from a thriving restaurant. Maybe it’s because this place is still new, but it can feel a little empty at times, which makes the dim lighting and carvings eerie rather than stylish. When full, this place is sure to take on an altogether more upbeat vibe that will be to its benefit.
The food at Keeper’s House is consistently excellent and, although not cheap, it’s at the expected price point for a restaurant of this calibre. To start, clay baked potatoes (£8.50) are a delight – and an unusual one at that. The duck-egg-blue potatoes look a little odd and the texture is strange but wonderful, almost like a savoury Cadbury’s Mini Egg; each potato is encased in a crisp, light clay shell that gives way to the soft new potato beneath. It’s served with an earthy Umbrian truffle and violette artichoke for a colourful, well balanced plate of food. Alternatively, the mushroom broth (£9.50) may sound dull but is a real highlight. The chestnuts, turnips and Judas Ear mushrooms are laid delicately in a bowl and the waiting staff pour on the clear broth at your table. It tastes every bit as good as it looks and, indeed, smells - earthy, rich and intense, it is truly delicious.
For the main course, the partridge (£18.50) is delightful – plump, well portioned and pink. The pear and hazelnut it’s served with is a little sickly but works well with the gamey flavour of the partridge and the black cabbage. Alternatively, the roast hare loin (£19.50) is a great dish with delicious pink fir potatoes working well with the strong flavour of the meat. Sour onions lift the flavours to a whole new level and the seasoning is spot on. It’s a very well conceived dish.
The wine menu at Keeper’s House is excellent with a strong selection of well chosen bottles designed to work well with the food. That said, the mark-ups on bottles are incredible with well over 100 per cent increases in price from retail, meaning a £70 bottle is the same as a £25 bottle from the shop. It may be a problem that is endemic across the capital, but that doesn’t excuse it, especially as the quality of the more expensive bottles may not live up to the reality as a result.
The Last Word
Keeper’s House hasn’t been open long but the potential is evident. Give it a couple of months to bed in and you are unlikely to be disappointed.