Whitechapel Gallery gets a new restaurant

Published 22 January 2020

It’s got a great location and brilliantly curated art – now the Whitechapel Gallery is to have a restaurant that matches. Townsend, which will launch on 5 February, is named for the architect of the beautiful building which will be familiar to many passing through east London – and Charles Harrison Townsend is also inspiring the menu.

Joe Fox, the popular ex-head chef of Petersham Nurseries, will combine classic British ingredients with original interpretations – for instance, starters such as Mayan gold potato, with egg yolk, Berkswell and winter truffle, or fragrant Curried veal sweetbread, with cauliflower, sprout tops and burnt onion. Main courses will include grilled salsify, with red cabbage, Jerusalem artichoke and collard greens, or roast haunch of venison for two to share, with ruby beetroots, wild cabbage, ale-braised onions, sour cream and horseradish.

The restaurant – there is also a café during the gallery’s opening hours – is flooded with light and features wood panelling – both will have Nick Gilkinson as director, who also ran Anglo and Lambeth’s Garden Café. Gilkinson will also establish and maintain Townsend’s wine list. He explains a bit more about the new opening’s ethos: “We are excited and honoured to be opening Townsend at Whitechapel Gallery, and have created a restaurant which we think matches its cultural context; a dining destination for visitors to the gallery and a neighbourhood staple for those who live and work locally”.

Fox, who has been helping out fellow newbies Manteca and Emile before joining Gilkinson and Townsend, adds “our menu will emphasise seasonality and quality ingredients, using the best of British produce as a guide to every dish. Whitechapel Gallery has been a catalyst for so much of London’s modern art and design, and we hope Townsend will fly the flag for the city’s food scene within this space”.

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