London is known for its diversity, culture and landmarks that make the city one of the most desirable to live in anywhere in the world. Inhabitants, however, often are trapped in what can only be described as a rat race, engaging in cycles of commuting to exhausting jobs in cramped trains that burrow deep under the hustle and bustle above, to sit behind desks working behind screens. The only respite from such a cycle being a weekly visit to the same heaving bar with colleagues on a work night to socialise briefly before conversation circles back into a discussion of deals and chat of clients.
The city has so much more to offer, the aforementioned culture and diversity lurks behind every corner in London. When you take a second to break the working routine there are a plethora of theaters, galleries and restaurants to explore and to escape reality for a few precious hours. The Saatchi Gallery is one of London’s most well known galleries for its often controversial – but always thought provoking exhibits.
The Saatchi Gallery is situated in one of the most affluent and fashionable parts of London, Sloane Square, just a few minutes away from the hypercars and Harrods in Knightsbridge. Gallery Mess opened in 2009 and has since been a popular addition for Saatchi visitors. It is a very trendy and cosy restaurant a stones throw away from the world famous exhibition space. GTspirit were invited to the chic restaurant on a cold Spring evening.
There is something of a stigma attributed to gallery restaurants, typically the quality of the dining spaces as well as the food struggles to live up to the success of the galleries themselves. When entering the Gallery Mess it is immediately apparent that no corners have been cut in the finishing of the dining room. It feels every bit worthy of being situated on the infamous Kings Road. The bare brick arches and dim mood lighting are very welcoming, as were the staff. My acquaintance for the evening was a very young restaurant owner and amateur foodie that was just as impressed as I was by our surroundings. We sauntered by the lengthy glass bar and were shown to our table.
The first thing we noticed was the small number of dishes on offer, all of which were relatively predictable and only one main course option for any vegetarians. What stood out was the number of very appealing fish options. The establishment’s primary purpose is clearly as a cafe and bar rather than a restaurant. We kicked off with a seafood sharing board. The presentation of the eel, salmon, mackerel pate and prawn was fabulous. Accompanied with lemon crème fraîche with brown bread and seaweed butter, the board was a fantastic starter for two.
Following our starters and some delicious organic and locally sourced lemonade and orange juices we were met by our mains, steamed pollock and the vegetarian main – pressed squash. As with the sharing board, the presentation of both dishes was, well, fit for a gallery. The quality and refinement continued upon our first bites. Immediately, with the fish and vegetarian dish, the freshness of ingredients is apparent. The pollock was accompanied by spätzle, bok choy kimchee and mussel velouté. The mussels were particularly well presented and cooked. The pressed squash was like no vegetarian dish we had ever experienced before. The sublime dish was presented with goat’s curd, compressed pear and granola, a seemingly odd combination. We were slightly skeptical, but were left astonished at the combination that was executed impeccably.
No meal would be complete without dessert. We opted for a childhood favorite, rice pudding and a Lemon Posset upon the recommendation of the friendly waiters. Again, there were no surprises, but the desserts we indulged in were very well prepared. There was no faulting the flavors or aesthetics.
Gallery Mess is not your conventional restaurant. It is primarily a cafe and bar and features a very limited menu. That being said, the dishes that are served are very high in quality and will not leave you wanting more. The prices are reasonable given the location and the standard of the surroundings and food. The service is great, a special mention to Ernesto who made us feel very comfortable. We hope to be back for more, particularly the pressed squash!