T&C tests: Senate Room, Royal Academy of Arts

A beautifully restored dining space serving an Italian-inspired menu

2018 was an important year for the Royal Academy of Arts. To celebrate its 250th anniversary, the historic institution unveiled its newly expanded campus; launched a series of major exhibitions and free art displays; opened a new public project space for RA Schools; and broadened its range of shops, cafés and restaurants. Among these is the recently opened Senate Room, which doubles as an Italian-style café by day and an elegant bar by night.

The T&C team visited Senate Room in December for a light lunch between deadlines, and the combination of a relaxed atmosphere with consistently prompt, friendly service proved ideal for a stress-free occasion. Gathered at a central table in the airy space, we marvelled at the ornate decoration on the soaring ceilings as we sipped our blood-orange Bellinis by way of aperitif. 

Albeit tempted by the delectable array of small plates on offer – the waiter recommended the scallop crudo with ruby grapefruit and fennel for smaller appetites, while the carnivores among us were tempted by a warming bollito misto of Norfolk chicken and salt-beef brisket – we decided to make life easy for ourselves and plump for the set menu. To start, we nibbled contentedly on a selection of flavoursome crostini (the quince with stracciatella was the unanimous favourite), before indulging in a beautifully colourful platter of vegetarian delights: creamy buffalo mozzarella, tangy artichoke, tender roasted-onion squash and Italian focaccia. For pudding, we were split down the middle between choosing a classic tiramisu (delicious) and a slab of chocolate ‘salami’ semi freddo (intensely rich in flavour).  

At £25 for three courses plus coffee or tea, it’s excellent value for such a central location and would be the perfect pitstop mid-browsing the January sales. After all, shopping makes hungry work…

Senate Room, Royal Academy of Arts, 6 Burlington Gardens, London, W1



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