Six of the best: restaurants with art

Add an extra side of culture to your meal with these art-filled establishments


Sketch, London

Sketch’s location in the heart of Mayfair means it has enjoyed a position of influence, celebrating fine dining, art, design and music over its 20-year history. Restaurateur Mourad Mazouz is a pioneer in experiential restaurants in London and Paris, and continuous renewal of the restaurant design and atmosphere is part of what has kept this restaurant so exciting. The building itself overflows with architectural history, having housed the Suffragette movement’s HQ, the British Association of Architects, and served as Dior’s London atelier throughout the 20th century. The cuisine is created by French Michelin-starred chef, Pierre Gagnaire. The main Gallery restaurant is redesigned by India Mahdavi every 7-10 years. In the past it has featured Martin Creed’s marble and bric-a-brac tableware (2012), David Shrigley’s poetic graphics (2014), and, most recently, in 2022 was taken over by Yinka Shonibare to showcase 15 new site-specific works that commemorate the influence African art has had on Modernist European art. 

9 Conduit Street, London W1S 2XG; sketch.london

La Colombe d’Or, Provence 

In this restaurant-inn in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, diners must surrender their expectations of temporality and embrace the rhythms of the Colombe d’Or, a place many significant Modern artists have patronised over the past 100 years; Matisse first arrived in a limo, Picasso had his favourite stool at the bar. There are countless stories and anecdotes about the artists, writers and intellectuals that gathered to drink and dine in the courtyard on rustic Provençal fare. The dining room inside is covered in jaw-dropping artworks by Picasso, Miro, Bonnard, Matisse, Tanguy, and César. The mascot of the Colombe d’Or is undoubtedly Alexander Calder’s mobile hanging over the pool, inviting arty tan lines for sunbathers beneath it. 

Place du General de Gaulle, Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France; la-colombe-dor.com


Wallsé, New York

A West Village institution for decades – the local of Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson, who lived around the corner – this bijou restaurant offers nostalgic Central European cuisine, prepared by Michelin-starred chef, Kurt Gutenbrunner and an innovative wine list tilted towards Austria and Alsace. Gutenbrunner is also an avid art collector and friend of the artist Julian Schnabel, a stalwart patron. The two have a long-standing partnership where the chef lets the artist curate the walls, meaning guests can dine with Schnabel’s works, or others from the collection that include Martin Kippenberger and Dennis Hopper photographs. The pièce de résistance is the large velvet portrait of the chef painted by Schnabel that takes pride of place in the dining room. 

344 West 11th Street, New York, NY 10014; wallse.com


Kronenhalle, Zürich

The Grande Dame of the eating down model – where artists traded works and sketches for food – was established in 1919 by Madame Zumsteg, who still inhabits the restaurant in the form of a grand portrait in a silk Balenciaga ballgown judging diners through her monocle. The restaurant is filled with museum-quality works from artists who passed through Zürich during WWII – Miro, Picasso, Chagall – in addition to other works from the family art collection including Bonnard, Soutine, Rodin and Hodler. The menu, with its potato rosti and borscht, is museum-worthy too, as it has not changed for over a century. The adjacent bar is adorned with monochrome marble tables, rippling brass chairs and lamps designed by Diego Giacometti.

Rämistrasse 4, 8001 Zürich; kronenhall.com


Louison, Chateau La Coste

The Louison restaurant in Villa La Coste – run by multiple Michelin-starred chef Hélène Darroze, and named after the proprietor Paddy McKillen’s beloved artist, Louise Bourgeois – features a dramatic silver sculpture hanging in the middle of the dining pavilion. This lies at the heart of an expansive wine estate that is punctuated with over 40 architectural and sculptural pavilions featuring the work of Tracey Emin, Richard Rogers, Frank Gehry, Conrad Shawcross and Ai Weiwei. This allows visitors to make the journey through the landscape and conclude in the restaurant, like an art pilgrimage. There are also further works of McKillen’s spread around the Villa La Coste lobby, with pieces from Damien Hirst, Anish Kapoor, and several design pieces from Charlotte Perriand and Jean Prouvé.

2750 Route de la Cride, 13610 Le Puy-Sainte-Réparade; villalacoste.com

Richard, Berlin

What happens when a painter decides to try his hand at a restaurant? Diners can find out in Berlin, where Michelin-starred chef Hans Richard, who also trained in art and design, opened this elegant space in the former Köpenicker Hof, a historic nightlife and performance space that has been entertaining Berliners from all sides of the political divide throughout its history. With its carved wooden ceilings, nude male and female figured cornices, and designer bubble lighting shining over the seasonal haute cuisine, it is discerning and graceful in its curation. The walls are adorned with abstract works by the chef, but also pieces from his own collection, which include an exuberant Rose Wylie diptych and a sensual Pierre Klossowski painting of an en flagrante threesome, a reminder of the sensuality of dining.

Köpenicker Strasse 174, 10997 Berlin; restaurant-richard.com 

Dr Christina Makris is a restaurant philosopher, wine writer and author of Aesthetic Dining: The Art Restaurant Around the World. You can follow her on Instagram here: @christinavmakris

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