Major art collections are now getting into the food world with their very own restaurants, and the Wallace Restaurant at The Wallace Collection is no exception. Housed near Marylebone High Street, the Wallace Restaurant has old masters displayed almost side by side with the terrific food, in a notable combination of high art and haute cuisine.
The Wallace Collection is a national museum in an historic London town house displaying a unique collection of European painting, furniture, porcelain and armour in 25 galleries. Its most famous exhibit is probably Frans Hals’ The Laughing Cavalier. Since the restaurant opened in the Sculpture Garden’s atrium, it has given the Collection a new profile and presents another reason for visiting the galleries.
It’s a top-class, French brasserie ambience that’s engendered at the restaurant. This is an all-day operation where you can enjoy breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea as well as dinner on the weekends. The atmosphere is rather like being at a very grand house party where French provincial cooking is the order of the day. Good food cannot be hurried and the service here tends to be on the slow side, but it’s worth the wait.
For breakfast or brunch there are pates and quiches, salads, mussels, oysters, cheese, pastries, and even soft boiled eggs with soldiers. For lunch starters include pork tripe sausage, Bluefin tuna, duck salad or frogs’ legs with artichoke and chorizo. Main courses offer monkfish, roasted baby chicken on cedar wood, fillet of sea bass, lamb cutlets and a papillotte of summer vegetables.
However, for the best meal by far, start with one of the excellent terrines, pork or goose rillettes, the French regional pork pate, the game pate or the homemade foie gras, all deliciously rich and unctuous, followed by one of the dishes for sharing. The piece de boeuf for two is a roast forerib of peppered beef with pommes allumettes and lettuce hearts and is quite the biggest and best cut of steak imaginable. Hearty meat-eaters will enjoy this flavoursome treat of hot and succulently tender beef on the bone which is only cooked to order. Similarly, with the Poulet Wallace, a whole roasted black leg chicken (also for two) is stuffed with foie gras and served with French beans and pommes allumettes: an amazing dish and the tastiest chicken you are likely to find anywhere in London. There’s also a fish dish for two, with sea bass in a salt crust. Finish with French cheese or a refreshing lemon tart.
The quite extensive French wine list has bottles from just over £15.00 and some wines by the glass from around £4.00. If you’re having afternoon tea, there’s a range of 30 leaf teas to accompany the selection of four different tea menus.
The Last Word
The Wallace Restaurant is a marvellous experience and comes very close to what it must be like to live in France and have such superb cuisine on tap. It’s not cheap but it is reasonable considering the high quality of the food.