The ArtSpace Café at Claridge’s serves Instagram-perfect baked goods, cups of champagne and free coffee for art students. Olivia Palamountain reports
Mayfair hotel Claridge’s is charging into coffee culture with the launch of the ArtSpace Café, an all-day dining and takeaway spot for light(ish) bites and patisserie with its own entrance on Brook’s Mews.
Designed by British architectural designer John Pawson, the café features a glass patisserie case laden with artful French fancies (think caramel Saint Honoré and pistachio Paris-Brest), a marble communal table for remote working and easy access to Claridge’s ArtSpace gallery, which is free to visit. Start the day with coffee by independent Cornwall-born Origin Coffee – or get busy with champagne, poured from dawn until dusk and served in sustainable takeaway coffee cups (so nobody needs to know).Refreshing juices, smoothies and kombuchas are on the menu too, alongside the Café’s signature hot chocolate, made from blocks of chocolate emblazoned with the Claridge’s crest and melted into steaming milk.
Breakfast favourites are pastries, coconut chia pudding, homemade granola and hot dishes such as baked eggs with ratatouille, while the lunch menu is crammed with more savoury fare – think roasted brie and wild mushrooms on toast, croissant sandwiches and a croque madame on homemade sourdough.A shout-out must go to the veggie star of the show, a plant-based reuben made from soy-marinated aubergine, deep fried and dehydrated, then topped with sauerkraut, cocktail sauce and grated horseradish.For a bit of theatre, crêpes are made fresh to order in front of guests in a variety of sweet and savoury guises.
Flavours include classic lemon and sugar and an homage to Claridge’s Seafood Cocktail, featuring native lobster, white crab meat, lettuce and quail’s egg, laced with Marie-Rose sauce and topped with lashings of caviar.Everything served is available for takeaway and supersized versions of Claridge’s cakes are also available to order, such as the “Mega Mayfair Madeleine”, a vast version of the iconic French delicacy, made of citrus sponge with a gooey caramel centre.The hero celebration gateau is the “Claridge’s Crest Cake”, a cocoa-rich replica of the hotel’s historical coat of arms.
Both the Café and the gallery space continue Claridge’s longtime commitment to the arts and relationship with the Mayfair art community.
Nowhere is this better expressed than in the hotel’s pledge to support of the next generation of artists; the first 50 art students who show their ID every Monday will receive a complimentary coffee.
That said, everyone can get creative here, with diners encouraged to make use of the art pads and ceramic pots full of pens and pencils and paper pads that dotted round the space. You can even have a doodle on the café’s coffee cups – Starbuck’s eat your heart out.The first opening under the hotel’s new culinary director Dmitri Magi, he says: ‘This is a new kind of dining for Claridge’s – an informal style which will focus on building community, both locally and in the art world. Claridge’s ArtSpace Café is our contribution – with more to come – to making Brook’s Mews a London destination of the future.”
Over in Knightsbridge, Claridge’s sister hotel the Berkley also has a destination patisserie by Cédric Grolet who is renowned for turning pastry, cream and sugar into stunning works of art in themselves.