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Museum-Hopping for Our Next Great Meal


Bar Luce’s scene.

Attilio Maranzano


These cultural institutions offer more than just impressive art.

Great art inspires us. It uplifts and transports us, and, after a couple of hours in its presence, it makes us hungry. Yes, hungry for more art, but also for our next meal. Luckily, top-notch art institutions are often also exceptional places to eat, applying the same level of taste and aesthetic standards to their restaurants as they do to their collections. Here’s where to soak up culture and maybe a Michelin-starred meal too.


Amsterdam


After a morning in the Rijksmuseum considering the chiaroscuro of Rembrandt’s The Night Watch, the domestic reverie of Vermeer’s The Milkmaid, or the debauchery of Jan Steen’s The Merry Family, lunch rises to the occasion at Rijks. Floor-to-ceiling windows welcome the famous Dutch light into the gray-walled room, a neutral gallery of sorts for executive chef Joris Bijden-dijk’s refined Low Country cuisine. Just as the museum focuses on the history and traditions of the Netherlands, so the restaurant trains its attention on regional ingredients in ever-changing dishes, such as langoustine tartare or Dutch razor clams with potato terrine.


Bilbao


In the museum that forever changed art patrons’ expectations of architecture, diners enter Nerua, the Michelin-starred restaurant at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, through the kitchen, erasing the boundaries between back and front of house. The canted walls and curving flourishes that distinguish the Frank Gehry-designed building continue within the white-tablecloth dining room. Here, chef Josean Alija plays with Basque fare to elicit contrasting textures and temperatures. In winter, that might mean artichokes candied with almond broth; in spring, sea bass with rhubarb and spinach jus; or in summer, grilled anchovies battered with salvia and roe cream. Like the museum itself, the meal is a landmark event.


The Modern’s dining room.

Yuxi Liu


Milan


Step into Fondazione Prada’s ground-floor Bar Luce and you might expect to see a pensive F. Murray Abraham (as The Grand Budapest Hotel’s Mr. Moustafa) nursing an espresso. Filled with retro flourishes, the space brings a Wes Anderson set to life. The filmmaker – who once aspired to be an architect – designed the all-day café as the kind of place where he imagined being a five-days a-week regular, with a cotton-candy palette on Formica tables, trompe l’oeil painted columns, and vintage spritzer bottles. Listen to music drifting from the jukebox over panini and pastries or sweet treats from the candy and gelato counter. Anderson has described the café as a place to dine, mingle, and read – and “an even better place to write a movie.”


New York City


Come for Monet’s Water Lilies, stay for The Modern, restaurateur Danny Meyer’s people-pleasing two-Michelin-starred establishment in the Museum of Modern Art. In sync with the seasons, chef Thomas Allan serves multicourse menus overlooking works by Pablo Picasso and Henry Moore in the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden for a tranquil time-out from the Midtown bustle. But there’s also an à la carte menu – studded with upscale comforts such as tarte flambée and ricotta gnudi – and bar seating for exhibit-inspired cocktails, including a martini with mineral and smoke notes that nod to Georgia O’Keeffe’s New Mexico. Warm service and a 2,800 bottle global wine list fortify a wide spectrum of museumgoers.


Langoustine at Odette.

Fondazione Prada


Paris


Design is the complimentary amuse-bouche at the Fondation Louis Vuitton’s Le Frank, named after Frank Gehry, the museum’s architect. In the airy glass atrium housing the restaurant, Gehry’s signature Fish Lamp, a suspended school of oversize white fish swimming above diners, changes from opaque by day to glowing at night. Likewise, Jean-Louis Nomicos modern French menus morph throughout the day from prix fixe lunches to late-afternoon charcuterie plates and cakes, Champagne and canapés in the early evening, and à la carte dinners.


Singapore


Housed in the former City Hall and Supreme Court buildings, the National Gallery Singapore makes the case for the city-state as Southeast Asia’s art capital. Similarly, its three-Michelin-starred restaurant Odette, helmed by French chef and co-owner Julien Royer, maintains a culinary conversation with the world. Royer feeds diners globally sourced treasures, including cheeses from Bernard Antony in Alsace, Provençal asparagus, and fish and seafood from Japan’s Hokkaido prefecture. Such star ingredients pepper the restaurant’s four-, six-, and eight-course menus, interludes underscored by Odette’s dreamy pastel interiors.

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