I went for lunch at the restaurant in the National Portrait Gallery yesterday. I’d already been once before, towards the end of 2000, and enjoyed it then (not least because someone else was paying) and was looking forward to going again. We booked in advance, which I think is advisable at any time.
The menu style is a bit different to usual in that you choose to have either 2 or 3 courses for either £20 or £25. Luckily, you can change your mind half way through i.e. go for a starter and then ‘upgrade’. This seems a pretty good idea, particularly when it comes to splitting the bill in a group. It also means you don’t have to feel guilty about liking the most expensive thing on the menu.
Before getting to the food, though, the best reason to come to the restaurant National Portrait Gallery is for the view out over Trafalgar Square and towards Westminster. It really is a great backdrop to eating. Another good reason to book seemed to be that booking would get you a table by the window whereas people who just turned up didn’t seem to get the same privilege.
The menu was slightly odd, I found, although I wouldn’t have thought it so odd if it hadn’t claimed to be brunch (served between 11:30am and 3pm on a Sunday). For one, that seems a bit late for brunch (picky, I know), but also none of the food seemed particularly brunch-like. Okay, fish would come with a poached egg, and the most common form of potato was a hash brown, but apart from that… I had foie gras for a starter, for example (which was very nice). The courses are all quite small too and it’s more than likely that you’ll end up with three if this is the main meal of the day. Two courses was okay for lunch, with a couple of glasses of wine as well, but for an evening meal I think a dessert as well would be essential.
The food is all well presented (made easier by being smaller portions so plenty of room for layout, I suppose…) and generally the whole experience does feel quite up-market (for what I’d know of that). Pretty good food, a nice space, an excellent view and generally not bad value altogether.
The National Portrait Gallery Restaurant website
The National Portrait Gallery on Streetmap