London has a reputation for some of the most interesting and innovative museum restaurants in the world: Oliver Peyton’s at the Royal Academy, National Gallery and Imperial War Museum have brought together striking contemporary design with quality cooking, while the dining room at the new Herzog & de Meuron-designed Tate Modern Switch House has been one of the most talked about launches of the year.
Possibly the most exciting cultural happening of 2016 is, of course, the opening of the new Design Museum. Minimalist architect John Pawson has refashioned the interior of the old Commonwealth Institute to create something bright, spacious and inspiring. At the top of this landmark modernist space sits Peter Prescott’s and Sir Terence and Lady Conran’s new restaurant, Parabola, overlooking the LED-illuminated atrium on one side and the foliage of Holland Park on the other. The restaurant includes a café, a more formal dining space and a cocktail bar that will offer a regularly shaken-up menu of 10 cocktails with a botanical bent, incorporating ingredients that can be found in the nearby Kyoto Garden.
Parabola’s design makes the most of the views with floor-to-ceiling glass, while interior details from Barber & Osgerby’s Universal Design Studio sleekly alternate reflective and rich surfaces, coloured timbers and leathers, and eye-catching lighting.
Alongside the Design Museum’s high-profile reopening attractions – including an exhibition of wearable devices by Hussein Chalayan, and Rem Koolhaas and OMA’s Pan-European Living Room (created using a piece of furniture from each of the EU’s 28 member states) – Parabola has launched a programme of visiting chefs, keeping the menu fresh and interesting. Until January 28, Rowley Leigh of Kensington Place and Le Café Anglais is guest chef, while upcoming luminaries include James Ramsden of Pidgin, Jeremy Lee of Quo Vadis and Marianne Lumb of Marianne in Notting Hill.