Gallery Mess restaurant
'Well-executed dishes in stylish surrounds' at Gallery Mess

Gallery Mess

Open 10am–11.30pm daily

Gallery Mess is housed in the old Duke of York’s officers’ mess and as you’d expect from a café and restaurant attached to the Saatchi Gallery, it is bright, clean and contemporary with art, including neon installations, lining the exposed brick walls and cool sculptures dotted about (the art is selected from the Saatchi Online Artist’s Gallery, where all works are for sale with no commission charged either to artist or collector).

A patisserie and long bar – with 100 bottles of Veuve Clicquot – welcomes you within the brick arches. There are round white tables here, overlooking the lawn, and more enclosed dining areas accessed through half-height arches. As we had arrived during a sunny lunchtime, we took one of the tables outside.

Rhubarb (known for their food-as-art approach) provides the catering. The seasonal menu is short, if a little unadventurous (the children’s menu in particular offers mainly simple meat options with chips, although the chips did look tempting served in their mini frying basket). To start, my friend, Anna, chose the classic prawn cocktail (£7.50): a good portion of juicy fresh prawns and crayfish with a bloody mary crème fraiche and crisp lettuce arrived in a sundae glass. I chose the minestrone soup (£6), a light tomato-based soup packed with perfectly-cooked fresh vegetables, broad beans and pasta, topped with grated parmesan.

Anna plumped for sea bream caponata (£12.50) for her main: pesto smeared on fresh fish nestled on a bed of rocket, raisons, pine kernels, diced peppers, squash and courgette. I went for tagliatelle with caramelised onion, peas and mint (£9.50) from the specials: deliciously light and well-balanced. We umed and ahed over the desserts (all £6 each): the milk chocolate popcorn sundae sounded enticing, but we’d already spotted two children devouring their knickerbockerglories, which looked like they’d been designed by Paul Smith. Ours didn’t disappoint: the sundae glass was crammed with layers of top quality crème brûlée, rhubarb, cream, berries and ice cream, topped with a buttery shortbread biscuit.

The menu may be short, but it offered well-executed dishes in stylish surrounds. Our only nit-pick was the slightly overbearing service, but perhaps that could have been down to my scribbles in my spiral-bound journalist’s notebook.

Lunch for two, around £80.

Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York’s HQ, King’s Road, SW3;; 020 7730 8135

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