Art After Dark, 29/30th June 2023

Gallery-going is usually a pastime reserved for those who have the time midweek to enjoy carefree cultural activities. But Art After Dark gives you a special opportunity to visit some of central London’s best loved art institutions and independent galleries for two nights of late night free visual viewing.

Following the success of the inaugural event in March Art of London have arranged a summer edition of their wonderful Art After Dark event, taking place on the 29th and 30th June (until 9pm). Visitors will have evening access to the area’s art exhibits, many of which are offering great perks. Those passing through Piccadilly Circus will be treated to a picturesque night garden to celebrate return of Art After Dark.

Art After Dark

Last week I had a preview of this month’s Art After Dark offering. Here are some highlights I recommend checking out later this month –

Art After Dark

Head to the iconic National Gallery to see the first major UK exhibition exploring the life and legacy of Saint Francis of Assisi, one of history’s most revered figures. The new exhibition includes over 40 works of art from public and private collections from across the world. You can elevate your experience by reserving a table at the gallery’s landmark restaurant Ochre for dinner with a complimentary glass of champagne (by quoting ‘Art After Dark’.).

Following a three-year closure the National Portrait Gallery is finally open again. Photography enthusiasts will enjoy the latest exhibition, Yevonde: Life and Colour, and guest DJ Lady Kamikaze will be spinning vintage tracks from the 1930s – 1970s. The National Portrait Gallery is also hosting an in-conversation with the award-winning musician, Paul McCartney – live streamed from the Gallery – to discuss his major new exhibition, Paul McCartney Photographs 1963–64: Eyes of the Storm on the Thursday.

Summer Exhibition

As always the Royal Academy of Arts features some thought-provoking free displays, as well as the popular annual Summer Exhibition. Each year a different Royal Academician puts together the summer show (in recent years Yinka Shonibare RA and Grayson Perry RA have coordinated) and this year the show has been overseen by the British painter David Remfry RA. The exhibition showcases every art medium – from prints, paintings, film and photography to sculpture, architectural works and more – by a mix of leading artists and emerging talent. During Art After Dark The Royal Academy will be serving complimentary pintxos with every drink purchased at the Poster Bar and the newly installed Portico Terrace as well as delicious seasonal food and drinks at The Shenkman Bar, making it the ideal post-exhibition venue for refreshments. If you fancy something more substantial head to Spanish chef José Pizarro’s resident restaurant.

The exciting arts programme will also feature some of London’s most acclaimed independent galleries. I recommend popping into –

Art After Dark

Skarstedt Gallery for their striking Beyond Abstraction exhibition. Highlights include Steven Parrino’s startling red ‘Bent Painting’ Richard Prince’s witty ‘What’s His Face’ and Marco Pariani’s ‘Landscaper’s Birthday’ which was created just this year.

Art After Dark

Art gallery 3812 specialises in contemporary Chinese art and is always a calming space to spend time in. I loved their current exhibition ‘Blue and Black’ the first solo exhibition in London for Qian Wu. Wu studied painting in America, but is firmly grounded in the traditional Chinese brush painting, his works are a sensitive mix of the two cultural artistic styles.

Art After Dark

Stern Pissarro is a welcoming gallery which is perfect for those with all levels of art knowledge. It is the ideal venue for visitors wanting an overview introduction to the important Impressionist painter Camille Pisarro while also exhibiting engaging seasonal shows. They are currently showing ‘Art on Paper 1920-2020’.

Art After Dark

Whether you are after a pre-show tipple or an after-exhibition feast, the West End has a host of tasty options to satisfy your appetite. I checked out Leicester Square Kitchen, which is very centrally located (in the heart of Leicester Square) and serves vibrant Mexican sharing plates. We opted for ice-cold beer and sour grapefruit Paloma cocktails before a table full of delicious food. Highlights included the Wagyu beef sliders, spicy guacamole and charred sweetcorn. It was the perfect al fresco meal for a summer’s evening.

With the days at their longest and the sun finally out in London’s West End, there has never been a better time to spend an evening strolling round the capital’s finest galleries and enjoying food and drinks at the neighbouring restaurants.

Discover Art of London’s seasonal art and culture programme, Art After Dark, via

Offers available during Art After Dark

  • Aquavit London – Enjoy a free glass of fizz when you book dinner on 29th or 30th June between 5pm and 9pm
  • Franco’s – Receive a complimentary glass of champagne when you book dinner, quoting ‘Art After Dark’
  • EllaMia London – Tuck into a focaccia sandwich with an alcoholic beverage (excl. bottles and champagne) or soft drink for only £15, available to anyone attending Art After Dark
  • Leicester Square Kitchen – 25% off beverages for groups of 10 or more. Available on the restaurant’s A La Carte menu only
  • Ochre Restaurant (The National Gallery) – Receive a complimentary glass of champagne by quoting ‘Art After Dark’ when booking dinner
  • Poster Bar (Royal Academy of Arts) – Serving complimentary pintxos with every drink purchased at the Poster Bar
  • Whitcomb’s at the Londoner – 20% off food for groups, available for 4-8 guests when dining from the À La Carte menu

Goutea by Cédric Grolet at The Berkeley

When it comes to patisserie it doesn’t get more special and spectacular than Cédric Grolet. When he opened his first patisserie outside France in February 2022, I was first in line to try his creations. Positioned inside the luxurious Berkeley hotel in Knightsbridge, it is a fitting location for this legendary pastry chef.

After stunning customers with his breakfast pastries, counter tasting menu and magical fruit masterpieces, this month he has launched his much-anticipated ‘Goutea’ – a fusion of the tradition of French snacking and a more traditional British afternoon tea.

Goutea by Cédric Grolet at The Berkeley

We were seated at a beautiful corner table in the Remi Tessier designed Berkeley Cafe. The friendly staff soon appeared with appetising glasses of iced vanilla tea and poured us glasses of champagne.

The tea is available seven days a week, served at noon, 2pm and 4pm. It is priced at £85 per person, which is very reasonable when you consider the array of treats you are presented with.

Goutea by Cédric Grolet at The Berkeley

The goutea menu will evolve with the changing seasons, but I’m sure certain elements will remain the same. There are some recognisable afternoon tea staples, for example – a perfectly delicate scone sandwich filled with jam and clotted cream. The savoury features are rather more unusual – an intricate avocado tart (topped with with an egg) and a trompe – l’œil burrata topped with balsamic dressing which reveals a vibrant tomato gel and basil pesto when cut open. A mini comté and bacon quiche is delivered to the table to enjoy warm. I really appreciated that each guest is given their own stand of patisserie, there is no sharing here… thank god, because you’ll want it all to yourself.

Goutea by Cédric Grolet at The Berkeley

When it comes to the sweet part of the tea there is a real variety on offer, nothing is too sweet or heavy. The Autumn menu includes a classic Paris Brest, a pistachio cookie, Grolet’s iconic vanilla flower and a signature green apple, filled with fresh apple and dill. It’s difficult to choose a favourite, but the apple was perhaps the most beautiful, both in appearance and taste. I was beginning to lament the tea coming to a close…  but then a waiter appeared with a tray of freshly baked madeleines, I was full but it is difficult to resist the smell of just-out-the-oven Cédric Grolet madeleines.

Just as I thought I couldn’t be surprised and excited by another afternoon tea Cédric Grolet has come up with an experience that truly wows. Trust the French to add a little magic to the tired British tradition of eating tea and cake. Bravo chef.

For more information and to book Goutea by Cédric Grolet at The Berkeley click here.

I was invited to this tea as a guest of The Berkeley.

Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester

Alain Ducasse is a titan of the food world and his restaurants always provide unforgettable experiences. I can remember each and every time I have eaten his food, from a taste of superior hot chocolate at the Coal Drops Yard boutique to a memorable meal at Louis XV in Monaco for my first wedding anniversary.

When I heard that the three Michelin star restaurant at The Dorchester had undergone an extensive renovation I felt the need to check it out for myself.

Alain Ducasse

Firstly, I must mention the restaurant is currently only open for dinner, it is dark and atmospheric and consequently my shadowy photos do not do justice of the beautiful food I tasted.

“International design duo Jouin Manku originally designed the interiors for Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester in 2007; this year they have returned to update their vision for the restaurant.” The design is elegant, emphasising elements of nature and texture, without distracting the diners attention away from the food.

Alain Ducasse

Once we were seated and greeted (by several charming waiters), our tasting menu for the evening was decided, factoring in any dietary preferences. The new Head Sommelier Vincenzo Arnese popped over to say hello, an absolutely lovely man we came to know (and love) throughout our meal thanks to the regular wine pairings and interesting drink anecdotes.

Alain Ducasse

Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester offers a 7 course tasting menu (priced at £210 per person), this carefully curated menu offers a taste of Executive chef Jean-Philippe Blondet’s innovative dishes always incorporating seasonal produce.

Our meal started with several extra amuse bouche treats, fried ravioli bites and delectable adorned crackers, bread and butter. Everything was immaculately presented, and arranged at our table discreetly.

The menu for the evening featured a range of indulgent and luxurious ingredients – Lobster medallion, chicken quenelles, Périgord truffle and homemade semolina pasta was one of the most special dishes – buttery soft lobster paired with an assortment of complementing textures and tastes, adding flair and interest without detracting from the beautiful and subtle shellfish.

Alain Ducasse

The Farmhouse veal fillet, aubergine, oyster and buckwheat was one of my favourite courses. It is such a treat to have veal, as it’s still rarely on menus in England and is difficult to find in supermarkets. The pale pink meat was cooked to perfection, sitting alongside smokey aubergine and earthy buckwheat flavours, and finally topped with oyster and a wonderfully rich jus.

Amazingly, despite the French style of cooking, none of the food felt too heavy or rich, butter and cream is kept to a minimum, and lean cuts of meat are used. Vegetables are given a leading role and always stand out on the plate proudly rather than acting as a mere condiment or decoration.

Alain DucasseAlain Ducasse

We were lucky to try a few desserts between us, my Strawberries with Lemonade Sorbet and Olive Oil was a palate-cleansing delight with the freshest last season strawberries. In comparison my dad’s chocolate dessert felt more Autumnal, a surprisingly light mousse was accompanied by an intense chocolate water, an indication of Alain’s fascination and love of cocoa.

Alain Ducasse

Often I find tasting menus tiring and stressful (I can never resist the bread and then find myself struggling to the finish line)… but this experience at Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester was perfectly balanced, immaculately executed and wonderfully refined. From our first step inside to our parting petit fours, I couldn’t fault the team, and would highly recommend a meal here if you have something extra special to celebrate.

I was a guest of Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester. More information and book a table here.