Art Yard Bar & Kitchen – Glass enjoys the buzziest eatery in Bankside

STEPS away from Blackfriars Bridge resides the glamorous Art Yard Bar & Kitchen, an airy light-filled space that also boasts some seriously striking visuals. Conveniently located inside of the luxurious Bankside hotel, home to the most charming staff, as well as the coolest interiors, Art Yard is a delightful option for those seeking a smart place to dine on the Southbank, at any time of the day. As its name would suggest, Art Yard is all about encapsulating the buzzy, creative spirit that can be felt in this part of town.

The Bankside hotel, a stunning property that is part of the Autograph Collection, has to be the best option for those looking for a riverside vacation spot. Out of towners, as well as Londoners who are privy to a staycation, will revel in its design-led interiors, which are as cosy as they are creative. Conveniently situated within walking distance of all the hot spots (Tate Modern, Borough Market, St. Paul’s Cathedral), the Bankside hotel sets itself apart from other properties in the area with its numerous artist-commissioned projects which fill the hotel’s walls and environs. Walking into the lobby is like walking into an art gallery, a delightful space that also boasts some seriously chic furniture (think cream-coloured sofas in the shape of a curve). The rooms themselves, we can attest, are the perfect place to rest after a day out, offering a homely, residential ambiance that incorporates monochromatic design touches, along with some killer views of the city. One thing that particularly impressed us during our stay was the filtered water stations that can be found on each floor, enabling guests to fill up their carafes (or glasses) whenever they like, thereby bypassing less eco-friendly options like the use of single-use bottles. More widely, the hotel follows an extensive sustainability agenda which is seriously impressive.

The property even has its own Maker’s Studio, which hosts a residency programme for artists, allowing them to make their projects on-site and showcase the work they produce. It’s a true sign of how committed Bankside is to supporting and promoting the arts. Currently, Lana Matsuyama is in residency, a London-based painter who makes abstract mixed-media paintings.

An intimate nook at Art Yard at Bankside Hotel

The central dining room at Art Yard

The restaurant is situated towards the back of the hotel, but can also be reached from the side of the property, where a small terrace is situated, offering a picturesque place to dine and take drinks outdoors. Regardless, though, of which entrance you use, the dining room impresses from all angles. If you’re walking in from the lobby, make sure to look out for the paintings by Helen Gørill, which honestly are hard to miss. The artist has described her works as “vandalising old masters and reviving art historical portraits through photobombing.” 

Framed by an imposing bar, the expansive walls are covered in paintings and drawings, and black overhead lamps are a feature throughout, which highlight Cubist-patterned floor tiles.

This summer marks the hiring of a new executive chef for the restaurant, the renowned Sofiane Kaced who trained with Jason Atherton and Gordon Ramsey, before becoming head chef at the Royal Opera House.

A brand-new menu has been devised by Kaced for Art Yard which highlights his roots in French and Mediterranean cooking. This is relaxed yet refined cuisine, offering dishes that are hearty and flavoursome, and presented with style.

Chorizo croquettes – a popular dish at Art Yard

During a recent visit, we tried numerous offerings from a menu that is categorised by various sections, which encourages guests to mix and match dishes. The Small Bites were a particular highlight, with its crunchy chorizo croquettes served with a romanesco sauce, and comforting pea arancini.

The salad was a plate of art in itself: crudités that had been elegantly lined up on top of a rich truffle sauce. It really was a thing of beauty.

Heirloom tomato tarte tatin

For starters, go for the tuna niçoise, a supremely generous plate which incorporated the freshest anchovies and olives. There’s also the option of pizette: mini pizzas that are made fresh in the wood-fired oven, topped with lush options such as aubergine and prosciutto.

The main courses include classic meat and fish dishes; think wood-fired sea bass and slow-cooked beef brisket. We opted for the sirloin steak, presented in the tagliata style with a tangy chimichurri sauce. Here was some seriously skilled cooking which showed off high-quality ingredients.

The dish was made even better by a side of fries that were quite simply dazzling. As always, it’s the small things that count the most.

The Art Yard Palette of Mini Desserts

Kaced’s pudding game is equally strong. A lemon meringue tart displayed the perfect amount of acidity, while the chocolate lava cake, accompanied by a sweet raspberry coulis, was warm, squidgy and deeply nourishing.

As an all-day establishment, Art Yard is also open for breakfast and lunch, so a perfect place to take business meetings, or stop by solo for coffee (which, incidentally, is delicious).

The courteous staff are completely accommodating and help to make Art Yard a thoroughly welcoming space — it’s the best place to dine on the Southbank this summer. What’s more, Chef Kaced has joined forces with Lana Matsuyama to create a collaborative dish that is reflective of both of their creative impulses. Their Rump of Lamb on Smoked Aubergine Miso Purée, which marries Japanese and French flavours, is available exclusively at Art Yard until the end of September.

by Derby Jones

Art Yard Bar & Kitchen, 2 Blackfriars Road
For reservations, call: +44 20 3943 2020