Tate Britain’s main restaurant has re-launched with a revamped look, a new menu and a renewed commitment to fine wines. The determinedly masculine room is dominated by an all-enveloping Rex Whistler mural that takes visitors on a mystical trek through a strange surreal landscape, although oenophiles will be more interested in gazing at the wine list – a fabulous compendium that groans with vinous treasures and enticing half-bottles, often at market-defying prices. For us, Langoa-Barton 2001 at £58 and a half of Pichon-Baron 2004 at £42 both caught the eye or, for deeper wallets, a 2003 Echézeaux Domaine Dujac at a ridiculously generous £180. There are signs of renewed ambition in the kitchen too, though sensibly simple executions don’t try to outshine the cellar. Glisteningly fresh Dorset crab has impressed, and there’s nothing mean-minded about daily roasts, succulent baked cod with crushed Jerusalem artichokes or a show-stealing dish of partridge breast accompanied by chanterelles and parsley oats. Patriotic puds such as tasty apple crumble also avoid complications. In short, a classic London restaurant that knows its trump card is in the cellar. (Please note: the restaurant opens bi-monthly on the first Friday evening of that month to coincide with the gallery opening late.)
Only open at lunch, the Tate is one of the few establishments to cellar wine. This, coupled with remarkably restrained margins, make for compelling bargains (2001 Langoa-Barton at £58, for instance, is astonishing value). France, Italy and Australia are the highlights, and with more than 80 available in half-bottles, this is the place to experiment. Best Buy White 2006 Domaine Zind-Humbrecht, Riesling ‘Heimbourg’, Alsace, France, £40.50. Best Buy Red 2005 Domaine Pierre Gonon, St Joseph, Rhône, France, £42.
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