Restaurants

Ai WeiWei at Royal Academy and Lunch at Le Caprice

05/11/2015

Last month I had the chance to experience one of London’s most loved restaurants, Le Caprice in Piccadilly. Le Caprice is a modern European restaurant, famous for its celebrity clientele as much as its good food.

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Le Caprice are currently offering a special dining deal to their guests who want to visit the extraordinary Ai Weiwei exhibition at the Royal Academy. For just £44, you can purchase the exhibition ticket and enjoy a two-course late lunch or early dinner, plus a welcome cocktail, the Weiwei Martini. Tickets for the exhibition cost £17.60 per person, so the dining offer at Le Caprice is quite good cost wise.

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I was invited by Le Caprice to try out this deal, so before going to the restaurant I visited the Royal Academy with a friend. We both loved the exhibition and we are not alone: most of my friends have been already and liked it. The gallery is now advising visitors to pre-book tickets to avoid disappointment.

Ai Weiwei is one of China’s most influential artists, known for his brave, provocative and visionary works. This exhibition is the first major institutional survey of his work ever held in the UK.

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The exhibition was curated by the RA in collaboration with Ai Weiwei and features the artist’s most important works from the time he returned to China from the US in 1993 right up to present day. There are also new works created specifically for the Royal Academy, like the large-scale installations inside the gallery and the trees you see in the courtyard.

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With typical boldness, the chosen works explore a multitude of challenging themes, drawing on his own experience to comment on creative freedom, censorship and human rights, as well as examining contemporary Chinese art and society. [Royal Academy]

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I visited the exhibition in October and visited all the rooms in a little bit more than an hour, taking my time to study Ai Weiwei’s works and listen to the well-curated audio guide. I found Ai Weiwei’s works full of meaning, as the artist took inspiration from his own life experiences (including imprisonment and censorship). More often than not Ai Weiwei has used his art as a channel to speak out about social issues.

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After the exhibition I walked the short distance to Le Caprice, ready to enjoy a nice lunch with my friend.

Le Caprice restaurant is part of the Caprice Holdings group which features some of London’s top restaurants, such as Scott’s, J. Sheekey and The Ivy. Le Caprice is an institution in London, having been successfull for more than thirty years. It’s the kind of restaurant you often read about in newspapers or gossip magazines, and you feel like it’s almost too famous to actually eat there. Once you are inside, it does feel glam, but it also feels like a place where people go back over and over again, with the waiters knowing their names and favourite dishes. Not quite like your local pub, but a posh version of that.

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The AiWeiwei offer includes two courses, so my friend and I shared one starter (salmon salad), ordered one main course each (mushroom risotto for me) and shared the dessert (blueberry cheesecake). All the food was very good, but we particularly loved the dessert. The risotto was perfectly cooked (not too soft, the grains still slightly crunch) and the portion was abundant.

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Dining at Le Caprice can be a bit intimidating, because of its fame and the classic decor, but my experience was great overall and I found the restaurant more accessible than I thought it would be.

You can purchase the package directly from Le Caprice website, but tickets must be collected from Le Caprice. The exhibition tickets are valid until the 13th December 2015.

Disclaimer: I was a guest of Le Caprice. All opinions are my own.

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