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  • National Portrait Gallery
    St Martin's Place
    3rd Fl

    London WC2H 0HE
    Trafalgar Square
  • Transit information Bakerloo Northern Piccadilly Get Directions
  • Phone number 020 7312 2490
  • Business website npg.org.uk
  • 4.0 star rating
    18/4/2014
    1 check-in here
    Listed in London Calling

    Five star view and actually delicious food, but a tad overpriced.  Still, that view. Yes, please!

    Portrait Restaurant on the top of the National Portrait Gallery boasts really fantastic views of downtown London, Big Ben, the London Eye and Trafalgar Square, along with more brass cupolas than I realized London had, until you find yourself at this fantastic vantage point and see that its really a town full of ancient towers and cupolas. (Must look up more often!)

    The food at Portraits is actually quite good, but pricey.  Entrees ala carte are basically the same price as a fixed meal with either starer and main or main and dessert, so you may as well splurge and get something more substantial at lunch.

    Not all all kid friendly, this is a fancy, traditional spot full of white suited waiters and multi course meals, which I hadn't realized when I booked.  Still, coming here with an older child of nine, there really wasn't anything on the menu appropriate. It would be nice if they might realize that not all patrons are going to want a three course lunch, or some overly gourmet main.  Perhaps they don't account for an American mom who can be this stubborn and so desirous of a rooftop view of London that she allows her very well behaved child to subsist on a croissant and orange juice at lunchtime --ahem! Bad mummy.

    For me, perfectly cooked fish, fennel, grapefruit and spinach entree, and a very creamy cauliflower soup along with a bread basket for 25 pounds.

    Ah well, glad we came here, but do keep in mind this is a very generous lunch, and you may be sleepy while wandering about the gallery.  Next time, will come for breakfast because its probably a better value and this view is really something worth repeating!

  • 3.0 star rating
    29/10/2013
    1 check-in here

    Pro-tips:

    Book a table for around sunset. You're welcome.

    Double check the times when they are open. Different menu at different times.

    Give yourself time to sit and relax. Service is in no rush either.

  • 4.0 star rating
    18/11/2012
    1 check-in here

    Here's a little secret:  come in the morning.  You can grab a coffee, tea, boiled egg or toast and get the same views without a major spend.

    The only downside to this strategy is that the views are to the East, so the morning views come with the sun in front.  This makes photos (all from indoors) a bit more tricky, but also gives you a taste of what you might experience if you come here at other times in the day.

  • 4.0 star rating
    16/3/2009
    ROTD 5/11/2009 First to Review

    You absolutely can not beat the view here.  Large windows open up to a view of Nelson in Trafalgar Square and across Whitehall to the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and the London Eye.  The space is airy as you would expect in a museum, but the food is a bit better.  Expect fancy yet typical British food, with the exception of Fish and Chips (impossible to make fancy!).  Ask for a table by the window, or in one of the newer booth areas where at least one person gets to look out.

    Do make a reservation, as it gets quite busy.  Don't be late for your table.

  • 5.0 star rating
    11/11/2009

    When we first arrived I was concerned it could be a snooty kind of place with uppity staff and tiny portions. I was so please to find I was completely wrong.

    My wife , daughter and I had arrived for brunch at about 11:20am on a weekday and were greeted by very friendly maitre D who seated us immediately. We had a table at the window with an awe inspiring view of the city. We had booked earlier but were one of only three groups of diners in at that time. It did get busier at about 12:15 so I would suggest booking to prevent disappointment.

    Our waitress was a stunning 6ft tall Germanic amazon who evidently spent more on manicures and shoes  than I do on cars and houses. On seeing her I surreptitiously eyed the menu to see if there were any hidden surcharges such as an arm and a leg for service but apart from the usual 12% there were none. My wife was enjoying my awkwardness immensely and suggested I ask her out!

    The food was beautifully prepared which was expected with a nice portion size which was not. The dishes themselves were fantastic. It was wonderful to see English food being presented in such an appealing way.

    The dish I relished most was the black pudding which was on wilted spinach and topped with a poached egg and devilled sauce. This was perfect as everything seems better with a poached egg. I balanced out the meal with the smoked chicken Caesar salad which was nice but not as monumental as the black pudding which even the picky 9 year old thought was "Yummy".   Our daughter had the soup of the day which was pumpkin (she's 9!) and chips which were enormous and perfectly cooked being golden and crisp on the outside with a fluffy center. My wife had the goats cheese and red onion tart with rocket which was also delicious. I still won with the black pudding!

    The amazon was attentive and professional and made a fuss over our daughter which was duly appreciated. The dining experience was a excellent from start to finish. The price is moderate to high but well worth it considering the location view, quality of food and that Heidi Klum's younger sister works there!

    The majority of the tables are along the Southern windows so you will have a perfect excuse to wear your cool Ray-Bans during lunch as it does get very sunny.

    The photo's do not do the place justice.

  • 4.0 star rating
    6/8/2011

    Duck Song

    Before joining the achingly hip crowd gathered for the Late Shift Extra at the National Portrait Gallery, we couldn't resist having dinner at the Portrait Gallery.

    This rooftop restaurant has the most breathtaking panaromic views of London, particularly on a sunny day.We tore ourselves away from it, to order our main, the confit of duck, presented on an island of creamy mash, surrounded by a lapping sea of red onion gravy.

    The duck was cooked perfectly, encased in a thin crispy skin which was golden brown. The mash was smooth and well seasoned, while the red onion gravy was a revelation.

    My dessert of raspberry and apple crumble, arrived with a tiny side jug of custard, which took the edge of the fruit's combined tartness. My other half unfortunately went for the chocolate pot which was lovely, but far too large a portion for something so rich.

    Late Shift Extra

    We finished dinner and headed downstairs to Room 20 - The Reform Room. A beautifully proportioned room, full of paintings of notable British historical parliamentaries and reformists.

    In front of an epic execution of The House of Commons, 1833, drawfed by the sheer scale of the canvas stood Andreya Triana. This tiny, bare footed powerhouse singer songwriter, treated us to an emotive, soulful tinged delivery of six excellent songs.

    Accompanied by a keyboard/mixer and talented guitarist 'Matt' , she ended her set with a brilliant electro choral reworking of the Eurythumics"Sweet Dreams". Her voice soared over a deep, pounding bassline, that had the whole audience rocking.

    All in all a great Friday night !

  • 4.0 star rating
    28/5/2013
    1 check-in here

    We came here as tourists.  This was a pretty fun spot to grab lunch after a concert at St Martin in the Fields.  The food was pretty solid, the service was decent (for London...sigh), and the best part, was the view!  It's not that high up, but London's not filled with skyscrapers so it got all the great tourist sights in there.  Pretty fun for a tourist.  It's all the way at the top floor of the museum.  Just keep going up and you'll find it.

  • 4.0 star rating
    11/10/2011
    1 check-in here

    I'll be completely honest... if the company wasn't paying, then I probably wouldn't have had lunch here!  I love good food, but sometimes the price can put you off.

    I will say that in making a group booking for our lunch, it was fairly easy.  If you go over a certain amount of people, I believe it was 8, then they have a form they send you and you have to go onto a reduced menu.  The only thing about the reduced menu I did not like was that they were asking us to commit to 2 or 3 courses without knowing what would be on offer on the day we had lunch.  After a bit of negotiating, they did let our group order off of the normal lunch menu since there were just 9 of us.

    I was really excited about the Globe Artichoke Salad!  I did order the crab cake to start with.  It was delicious and I thought it was the right consistency... sometimes it is too mushy or too dry, but this was just right.  The salad looked beautiful and it tasted lovely, with the exception of the potatoes.  They were blue/purple and I was expecting them to taste wonderful, but they really didn't have any flavour... in fact the consistency wasn't even nice... not sure if that was the potato's fault or whoever cooked its fault.

    For dessert I had the caramalized walnut tart with clotted cream.  Talk about sweet!  It was so good though!  It reminded me a lot of Pecan Pie, but the walnuts cut a bit of the sweetness and I really enjoyed it, especially with the cream!  Everyone else seemed to enjoy their food as well... no complaints at all.

    We were seated next to the window and while the view was nice, I wouldn't say it is the best view ever because a lot of it is the top of the National Gallery.

  • 4.0 star rating
    1/3/2013
    1 check-in here

    Loved this place. The food was good - mid range but well prepared. The view - one of the best in London. Truly amazing. Not many people seem to know about this place, and we were sent downstairs to the cafe at first, then we asked for directions to the "Restaurant" and went up an escalator to this amazing little place. The hostess can be a little flustered, but the bar staff  (we ate at the bar) were super friendly. Just stunning views of the square and London. Excellent place to grab a solid bite of food, and a view to send pictures home of.

    • Qype User tikich…
    • London
    • 391 friends
    • 585 reviews
    5.0 star rating
    4/9/2010

    Restaurants that are well known for stunning views as well as those placed within museums and other cultural institutions and tourist attractions often have a reputation for being overpriced or for making quality and taste a secondary concern. On the contrary, I found, in addition to a gorgeous view in a fab setting, that my lunch at Portrait was deliciously good value.

    With a world class collection of art below thos top floor eatery featuring stunning views of many of London's most noted landmarks and the menu in the capable hands of head chef Katarina Todosijevic, this is a winner of a place to eat. More about the chef here:
    londonist.com/2010/08/ch…

    A very good restaurant for a date or catching up with an old friend!

  • 5.0 star rating
    17/5/2011

    This is one of my all-time favourites for afternoon tea and somehow it still remains a well kept secret - shhhh. You can't beat the view across Trafalgar Square and if you opt for a pot of tea and scones only rather than going for the big deal tea, it doesn't break the bank either.
    I have yet to meet a visitor who was not impressed.

  • 5.0 star rating
    26/5/2013
    Seated via OpenTable

    We love the Portrait Restaurant. The atmosphere is great, the view is unparalleled, and the food is actually very good. We eat here every time we visit London and will be sure to visit again on our next trip. The bar is also very good as well. Thursday nights are a great night to visit because The National Portrait Gallery stays open later and  you can get a bite to eat after. I would recommend making reservations because the restaurant fills up quickly.

    • Qype User Chris7…
    • London
    • 3 friends
    • 22 reviews
    5.0 star rating
    10/7/2009

    Came here for a first date and it was a great choice.

    Good choice of Wines + cocktails at the bar, really friendly, helpful service and a fantastic view over London's skyline.

    Only slight gripe is that last food orders are at around 8.15, and the restaurant closes around 10.30, so we felt a bit rushed at the end of the evening.

    Food was excellent, and 2 courses each with wine came to about £80

  • 4.0 star rating
    23/7/2012

    Vistiing London for the first time?    Then top off your art tour (both here and the National Gallery next door) with another great work of art.   Mainly the fantastic view of Westminster.    And the food's not bad either.  This was my 3rd visit & have never been disappointed.  The seats by the window are at a premium, so book a table to ensure you get a prime location.

    • Qype User greenm…
    • Esher, Surrey
    • 173 friends
    • 270 reviews
    3.0 star rating
    26/5/2008

    Pleasant restaurant, good food, efficient service and of course a great view. Quiet hideaway for afternoon tea.

    • Qype User PaulRo…
    • London
    • 23 friends
    • 56 reviews
    3.0 star rating
    12/1/2008

    Excellent view of London (and quite a bit of rooftop). You get in via the gallery so you can't help but look at a few paintings. The room has lots of lights and beautifully designed (if slightly reminiscent of the 80s industrial design movement). I'm also sure its been in countless films. The service was excellent; attentive but discrete. I didn't notice the food: I' sure you're not really supposed to come for it anyway.

    • Qype User PennyW…
    • London
    • 3 friends
    • 11 reviews
    5.0 star rating
    31/8/2010

    I'll admit I only came here for coffee but my god! What a coffee it was! Us antipodean's lament of good coffee in London can be heard far and wide (sorry to those who have to hear us constantly complain!) but the National Portrait Gallery served up a treat, with a stunning view of the cityscape to boot. Get your caffeine fix here!

    • Qype User Deb50…
    • Walsall, West Midlands
    • 2 friends
    • 11 reviews
    4.0 star rating
    26/10/2010

    Beautiful views over London and an excellent lunch. The menu was very well priced and interesting. The food itself was perfectly cooked. Spent a very comfortable unhurried couple of hours with a very palatable bottle of wine and a delicious meal. Highly recommended!

  • 3.0 star rating
    3/8/2009

    I didn't know what to expect from a restaurant, purported excellent views or not, established near a tourist-laden icon of London, Trafalgar Square. Firstly, the place commands a fairly elite presence. Although a restaurant, they serve only breakfast and lunch, so most of their patrons tend to be local professionals, not tourists. Business attire (suit) is suggested if you want to fit in, but probably not mandatory; reservations are highly suggested; being escorted by someone who is a regular there doesn't hurt. Be prepared to pay higher prices for food which would be considered fair-good if presented from a street-level cafe. As with any establishment  with a view, the prices of the food do not reflect the quality, rather they reflect the height at which the kitchen is perched. Not bad food, just not Earth shaking. Fall/Winter in late afternoon provides the most dramatic view in my opinion.

    • Qype User eminem…
    • London
    • 1 friend
    • 19 reviews
    4.0 star rating
    8/7/2012

    Beautiful view and the food was to perfection.

    • Qype User EarlGr…
    • London
    • 0 friends
    • 2 reviews
    1.0 star rating
    14/4/2012

    Three of us went for the afternoon tea package at the Portrait yesterderday at 3.30. As ever, the view was great and we had the most charming waitress. There were almost more tea leaves in each of the teapots than hot water, whoever was on tea making duty in the kitchen yesterday apparently did his/her tea making apprenticeship on building sites. A waiter kindly agreed to bring us hot water which weakend the effect a tiny bit. In terms of sandwiches each person was allotted 4 small triangular sandwiches so, essentially, two slices of bread each. One triangle contained ham  OK, another contained egg mayonnaise  OK, another contained tinned tuna mayonnaise  not really afternoon tea material and the fourth grated cheese and chutney  a new take on afternoon tea which.. really doesn't work and was unpleasant. A baking powder tasting scone each with a little pot of jam and a serving of cream, underneath the two servings of cream was some yellow sponge cake which we couldn't quite fathom  had the cream been scraped off the top of sponge cakes??. The cakes were by far the worst element:  a piece of chocolate shortbread dripping in sugar with a cheap and nasty taste- a square of passion fruit cheesecake which tasted as if it had been made from a packet powder mix with an over sugary hard biscuit base, a miniature pavlova which in each case (we had three altogether) was so soggy it collapsed on the journey from the cake stand to the plate and then a little pink macaroon looking really odd beside an enormous slab of carrot cake which tasted like something really vile from Asda, we left one untouched it tasted so awful which must be a record for me. Our chaming waitress was very solicitous, asking us if everything was OK, but where do you begin?  we concluded it was a lost cause  the cakes were so vile that there was just no scope for improvement. Our advice would be not to ever entertain the idea of the afternon tea package here  the restaurant has a lovely view and our waitress was a charmer but, although it's quite an extreme thing to say, the afternoon tea really was disgusting. £19.95 is admittedly a cheap option for afternoon tea in London but this one was gross.

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