We were in town on a strike day to check out the reopened Courtauld Gallery and then hunt for some pre-Christmas spice. It’s always nice to have the memory of a curry when you’re going into a week full of roast flesh and sprouts.
The Courtauld’s revamp is a mixed bag. The new colour scheme for the walls brings a lot more light into the rooms, especially the dingy ones at the back where the Bloomsburys used to hang out. Star of the entire thing is the new Cecily Brown which dominates the staircase at the top of the building. This is the best piece of new art I’ve seen since time out of mind and worth coughing up 11 quid for alone. Apparently the CG only has it for two years but if I were them I’d do my best to keep it forever. It’s a stunner.
And ties nicely to the next room up there, which now features an Oskar Kokoschka (sp?) triptych which is an similar Expressionist style. I hadn’t known Kokoschka spent any time in Britain but apparently he did a lot of that and there are some wonderful Lee Miller photographs of the old feller in his studio cooking up the big canvases. This room would work well as a temporary exhibition but I’m not sure it merits being given a permanent dedicated space when there are so many wonderful painters in the rest of the rooms fighting for your attention.
For example, most people’s favourite painting at the Courtauld, The Bar at the Folies Bergères, is hung very poorly. Previously it was central on its wall and you could plant yourself in front of it (am I wrong in remembering a nice sofa/bench there?) undistracted by any of the art works. Now, rather than being the centre of attention in its room it’s in a weird place, side on to a row of other works, where looking at it frontally may involve your eyeballs negotiating the back of someone’s nut looking at something to your left. Not ideal. And where’s the Bonnard?!
Still, the mediaeval and Renaissance stuff is gloriously displayed now rather than being stuck in a dingy basement. But after feasting on the twentieth century (and some excellent photographs of Kurdistan in the 1940s) I was brained out and hungersome.
No tube meant we had to head northwards in order to keep on the trail of the 341, which is why we ended up all the way by Exmouth Market. Cinnamon Tree, though early, had a couple of family groups in it and seemed very inviting.
The service is quite formal, I liked that once I got used to it. This is old school Indian dining with plates wiped before your eyes and the waiter holding the door open for egressing customers. The menu holds few surprises but that’s no bad thing when you’re ravenous. Poppadoms arrived with four chutneys (all excellent, the pick being a nostril-blasting lime pickle) and oversized Cobras, nicely chilled, arrived swiftly after.
A chicken tikka starter up front was juicy in its tasty marinade but the laal gosht lacked fighting strength for my taste, even if the bhindi on the side was the best I’ve ever had in an Indian restaurant. We demolished the lot and strolled up to the Shakespeare for a very happy nightcap in the best pub in Islington.
To see where else I’ve been click on the google map below.
Blue Badge guide to London and academic specialising in early twentieth century history. Blogging on history, academia, and food and culture in the capital (and occasionally elsewhere).