While plenty of museums worldwide offer some kind of snack bar or coffee counter to quench a parched throat here and satisfy a growling appetite there, these are often an artless afterthought — needless to say, the experience can be drab-looking and bland-tasting.
There is, however, a select number of posh museum eateries that are destinations onto themselves, with culinary presentation that is just as pleasing to the eye as the installations on the walls.
In Manhattan, at the often overlooked New York Historical Society, lies the Caffè Storico — a compact white and yellow jewelbox-like space that has a distinctly Italian twist to its mouth-watering menu. Various cicchetti-style starters, pappardelle with duck ragu and shrimp salad mini-sandwiches are all favorites.
Nerua at the Bilbao Guggenheim admittedly has a slightly unsettling clinical feel to it: stark white surfaces and sparse, pale wooden floors don’t make for the coziest of settings, but then again one should expect no less for a venue located within this Frank Gehry-designed institution. The dishes are as equally show-stopping as the architecture: anchovies with fried strawberries, broiled hake with pumpkin seed praline and pure chocolate with spicy marzipan sand? Consider my palate curious.
Le Georges on the final floor of the Renzo Piano-designed Centre Pompidou in Paris is the absolute place to see and be seen. The edgy Bond villain-esque architecture is complemented by wraparound windows that give sublime views of the capital at night. I love tucking into the restaurant’s Asian-inspired fare and crazy cool cocktails after an indulgent afternoon of art immersion.
But my absolute favorite has to be the recently opened Monsieur Bleu at the Palais de Tokyo — yet again on the river bank of the French capital. The smashing interiors by fashion store-favorite Joseph Dirand feature pale green sage seating, brass Art Deco fixtures and palatial ceiling heights, all making for an impressive setting. Nibble a touch of Caspian caviar or pata negra cured ham for starters, followed by vitello tonnato and a vanilla mille-feuille to round it off. Très chic and très yummy.