These are Scotland's best art gallery restaurants and cafes, from Hospitalfield to Jupiter Artland
We’re not sure if it's looking at art we really love, or the promise of cake afterwards.
Anyway, here’s our round-up of the best Scottish art gallery cafes, so you can punctuate your dose of culture with lunch, breakfast or dinner. And these days, they offer more than just scones.
TATHA BAR & KITCHEN
We’re quite excited by this gallery’s new cake cart, which is on the lower level of the building, and serves up coffee and gateaux to boost your blood sugar before you tackle the exhibitions. As well as breakfast, brunch and lunch, the restaurant, with views out to the River Tay, is offering a Dundee meets Japan afternoon tea. This includes a Desperate Dan style cow pie, a mini Dundee cake and flavours of miso and katsu amongst the other savouries. Just outside, you’ll also find the Heather Street Food van, serving doughnuts, coffee and bagels.
PINKS AT DOVECOT
Edinburgh is spoiled with gallery cafes, from Paolozzi’s Kitchen at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art to Cafe Portrait at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, where you can bag an excellent cheese scone, while perusing the Alison Watt exhibition (until January 9, 2022). However, we have a soft spot for this place, at the tapestry studio and arts venue, Dovecot. It’s been recently taken over by Pinkerton’s catering, and they do lunch specials, including Bloody Mary soup with a lamb pasty. "Top selling at the moment are our savoury tarts and croque mon-Scots with Isle of Mull cheddar and honey roast ham,” says cafe co-owner, Floraidh Anne-Law. “On the sweet side, our fresh sponge with seasonal jam is a winner.”
10 Infirmary Street, Edinburgh, www.dovecotstudios.com
This Arbroath venue is undergoing a restoration of its site – once a 13th-century hospital and monastery. It’s also the location of an Arts & Crafts-era house, which was the inspiration for Walter Scott novel, The Antiquary. Once you’ve browsed the 19th and 20th-century collections, visit the beautiful glass house cafe and try their menu of locally sourced produce, which showcases vegetables that are grown in their walled garden. There’s coffee by local roastery, Sacred Grounds, and a menu that includes Angus beef and ale pie, chips, beetroot ketchup and organic leaves.
01241 656124, www.hospitalfield.org.uk
CAFE PARTY AT JUPITER ARTLAND
Our summers aren’t complete without a visit to this art park, with works by Phyllida Barlow and Rachel Maclean (also, soon, a Tracey Emin). They’ve extended their opening season, which now runs until October 31. Aside from the outdoor artworks, where else can you eat cakes and quiche in a cafe that’s painted bubblegum pink and covered in cartoon-y looking trees, thanks to a design by artist, Nicolas Party? Don’t forget the retro Airstream caravan, which serves goodies to takeaway.
Bonnington House Steadings, near Wilkieston, www.jupiterartland.org
THE WATERMILL BOOKSHOP, GALLERY & CAFE
There’s always a couthy feel to this cafe, which has a wood-burning stove and stone walls. It’s conducive to a big bowl of their homemade soup, along with a mammoth ‘rustic’ sandwich filled with Aberfeldy Butcher ham, and maybe a chai latte. The small art gallery is upstairs and curated by local artist Zanna Wilson.
ART LOVERS’ CAFE AT THE HOUSE FOR AN ART LOVER
This cafe has one of the most beautiful outdoors terraces, with parasols to protect you from the elements – rain, most likely. The all-day menu features a popular salted caramel panna cotta with Biscoff crumbs and chocolate tuille, with savoury offerings, including barley and leek risotto. There’s also a classic afternoon tea, which features classic empire biscuits and strawberry tarts. We’re sure Charles Rennie Mackintosh would thoroughly approve.
Bellahouston Park, www.houseforanartlover.co.uk
ABERDEEN ART GALLERY CAFE
This gallery, which features collections from artists including Joan Eardley and Samuel Peploe, reopened after a major refurbishment in 2019. Track down the new cafes, with one on the ground floor and another with great views, up on level two. Apparently, the menu is simple, but satisfying.
SKOON ART CAFE
Buy a painting, then purchase a cake and coffee at this small gallery and cafe, which is situated in a whitewashed traditional croft building that’s 20 minutes drive from Tarbert. We’ve got first dibs on their carrot cake and the chocolate cappuccino cheesecake.
4 Geocrab, Isle of Harris, www.skoon.com
FIRE STATION CREATIVE
We’ve heard good things about this old fire station, which now houses artists’ studios, a classroom, gallery and cafe. It’s open for food and drinks from 10am until 5pm daily, except for Fridays and Saturday, when they keep their doors open until 10pm. The wholesome menu includes a full Scottish breakfast and brunch at the weekend, sharing platters in the evenings and tea from The Wee Tea Company.
Carnegie Drive, Dunfermline, www.firestationcreative.co.uk
THE FRUITMARKET CAFE
As part of the relaunch of this newly expanded gallery, which opened with an exhibition by Glasgow artist Karla Black, they’ve taken their food offering in house. We’re impressed by the menu, which includes local Obadiah coffee, as well as dishes including pot-roasted chicken with lemon, apricot, red onion, tabbouleh and herb dressing, fish finger brioche, and kids offerings for a fiver.
45 Market Street, Edinburgh, www.fruitmarket.co.uk
SARAMAGO CAFE BAR
As befits a contemporary art gallery, the CCA’s cafe is also pretty forward looking, with interesting options on its “animal free” menu, like a sandwich with tempeh rashers and sauerkraut or pizza with artichoke, tomato, olive, shallot and pesto. There’s also an outdoor terrace out back – not on busy Sauchiehall Street – where you can enjoy margaritas alongside your portion of baba ganoush with garlic flatbread.
CCA, 350 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, www.ccaglasgow.com