The Magazine at Serpentine Gallery: West London’s most stylish brunch
Formerly a gunpowder store, the Georgian building known as the Magazine was converted into a gallery in 2013 by Iraqi-British starchitect Zaha Hadid. Hadid, known for her eccentric neo-futuristic style – think of the Aquatic Centre at the Olympic Park – maintained the original structure for the gallery and designed a hypermodern space for the annexed restaurant, which takes the name from its origins.
The Magazine is open for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea, and during the weekend also for brunch. Run by Michelin-trained head chef Emmanuel Eger, the restaurant boasts one of the most stylish dining areas in London. Sitting under a white sci-fi roof, surrounded by wide glass walls and high-tech design features, you can enjoy delicious food and a peaceful view of Hyde Park from the inside of a spaceship.
With the comfort of home-made bread with butter, sipping two refreshing signature cocktails – Elderberry and Stem Ginger Collins and Blackberry and Coriander Margarita – we analyse the balanced menu and decide to try the Scottish Salmon Tartare, Granny Smith and Radishes and the Scrambled Eggs, H Forman & Son’s Smoked Salmon, Dill Crème Fraîche for starters.
Whereas the scrambled eggs – admittedly very enjoyable – are a dish you could simply cook at home with no skills required, the tartare showcases fine techniques and pairings for a brunch menu.
Simplicity and freshness drive the flavour combinations throughout the courses: for mains Grilled Middle White Pork Belly, Hispi Cabbage and Rainbow Chard does not stand out as memorable, but in terms of comfort food it’s quite fulfilling; and the 32-Day Dry-Aged Rib Eye is a quality choice even though its cut is too thin to fully appreciate the texture.
Lovers of the steak-and-fries combo will be disappointed by the lack of chips, but there are healthier options that fit better with this menu: New Potatoes, Wholegrain Mustard and Mint and Avocado, Piquillo Peppers and Smoked Yoghurt.
The wine list is relatively extensive for a restaurant that doesn’t have dinner service, with impressive bottles of champagne – a beautiful Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque Rosé 2004 – and even a Jura wine, a favourite for connoisseurs. Sadly, the red wines page aims at pleasing the rich costumer, with bottles from Bordeaux rather than the more sophisticated Burgundy. We have Jean Rijckaert’s Cotes du Jura Les Sarres Savagnin 2007 and Domaine Fouassier’s Les Grands Champs Sancerre 2012 with the starters; Johnson Estate’s Pinot Noir Satellite 2012 and Castello Banfi’s Rosso di Montalcino 2013 with the mains.
The dessert selection reflects the spirit of the cuisine: there’s fruit in every course and no chocolate. The selection we have comprises English Strawberry, Pistachio and Vanilla; Grilled Pineapple, Coconut and Hazelnut; and Lemon Thyme Infused Panna Cotta and Peach. The coffee is roasted by Caravan in King’s Cross; though it’s a little too long for an espresso, it’s simply exquisite.
The Magazine is one of London’s most serious competitors in the brunch scene; with a unique setting and its perfect position in the heart of Hyde Park, just above the Serpentine Bridge, it also benefits from the cultural edge bestowed upon it by the adjoining gallery.★★★★★Food ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Drinks ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Service ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮
Filippo L’Astorina, the Editor
Photos: Laura Denti
To book a table at The Magazine, Serpentine Sackler Galler, W Carriage Dr Kensington Gardens London W2 2AR, call 020 7298 7552 or enquire here