It was on my second visit, two starters demolished and two glasses of wine down that my lunch companion leaned over the table and whispered “Jimmy… are we eating on a grave?”
Well yes, yes we were. The beautiful glass and copper box that is the new(ish) Garden Café, has been delicately incorporated amongst the old gravestones of the church that houses the Garden Museum. Located next to Lambeth palace and a short walk across the Thames to Pimlico, this delicious new spot has become my perfect paring to mornings spent wondering around a exhibition at the Tate Britain. This isn’t just because of the handy location and the fact that there doesn’t seem to be much else going on around here as far as wonderful food, but with chefs with a resume with four of my favorite restaurants in London on it (Padella, Primeur, St John and Lyle’s) this is a serious food destination in its self. The result of this impressive list of restaurants, is a menu that combines the modern mash up of British and European cooking I love so bloody much and is a perfect antidote to these bleak Brexit Britain days.
My first visit earlier this summer, was paired with the fantastic Queer British Art exhibition at the Tate (until 1st October 17). After a morning spent with Hockney, Bacon, the Bloomsbury group and many more it was across the river for lunch. We started with two of their small dishes, first a plate of romanesco spiced with paprika and served with sheep’s yogurt that was delightful. This arrived along with a very sassy looking quail that looked as though it might can-can of the table. This delicious bird was on a bed of creamy sweetcorn and chili. For my Sunday main it was rich roasted lamb balanced with grilled radicchio and anchovies that was superb. We finished with a peach and almond tart that proved the great dessert skills of this café.
My second visit was only last weekend after another morning at the Tate, this time the new Rachel Whiteread exhibition (until 21st January 18). Back across the river, sheltering from the rain we spent a cozy Saturday lunch with plates of juicy mussels in white wine and burrata with courgetes and herbs. This was followed by a very comforting and meaty braised ox cheek on top of indulgent aligot (aka chessy mash). Finished once again with a little desert, this time a simple but delicious pistachio ice cream. The Garden Café’s ever changing menu is full of these simple, seasonal and skillfully crafted delights, all served in this special and spectacular space. The perfect weekend lunch spot.