Yinka Shonibare’s cerebral canalside dining

A decadent William Burroughs-themed meal for art-loving epicureans

London’s East End has long been a destination for those seeking out avant-garde art or experimental feasting, but now culture-loving epicureans have another reason to head east: the debut of the Artist Dining Room, a culinary concept that fuses fine art with dining and discussion. The cerebral series is the creation of Turner Prize-nominated artist Yinka Shonibare, and raises money for his Guest Projects artists’ hub, a scenic performance and exhibition space by Regent’s Canal (where the dinners are also held) that can be used for free by young artists.  

Each bimonthly dinner takes its inspiration from an influential artist – such as Louise Bourgeois, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Kara Walker, Joseph Beuys, David Lynch and Barbara Kruger – and the first date is a tribute to Beat hero William Burroughs. The event will be held on Friday February 8, and attendees might like to take a trip beforehand to the much-lauded exhibition William S Burroughs: All out of Time and into Space at Bloomsbury’s October Gallery (www.octobergallery.co.uk; till February 16).


Art historian and Burroughs authority Alex Baker will be the host for the occasion, providing debate and visual installations, while supper-club pioneer Matthew Phelps, chef and founder of Funthyme, will create an edible tribute to the counterculture master. Guests will dine on Beet Generation (a seasonal starter of roasted beetroot accompanied by horseradish mascarpone, tarragon and hazelnuts), followed by roasted sea bass on a bed of lentils and green sauce (referencing the occasion Burroughs tried to order “striped bass fished from Lake Huron in 1920”, much to the bemusement of his dining guest and waiter).

The pièce de résistance will be a dessert of baked apple stuffed with a cannabis-free version of a fruit, nut and spice mix that Burroughs favoured when living in Tangiers – served with an empty bullet, alluding to his disastrous drunken attempt to recreate the William Tell feat of shooting an apple atop his wife’s head.