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Museum Dining in London

He says palette, you say palate, he says Gainsborough, you want gazpacho. No need to call the whole thing off — at least not in London, where some major museums and galleries, after much-publicized expansions, now provide a lot more than a feast for the eyes.

Tate Modern Café (Bankside; 44-207/401-5020) led the avant-garde pack with its panoramic seventh-floor dining space overseen by über-restaurateur Jeremy King, of Ivy and Caprice fame (no reservations, so be prepared for a wait). The National Portrait Gallery responded with the glassed-in Portrait Restaurant & Bar (St. Martin's Place; 44-207/312-2490) atop its new Ondaatje Wing (think potted salmon, saffron rice pudding, and postcard views of London). At the Wallace Collection, the Fragonards will seem even more delicious after a light Gallic lunch at Café Bagatelle (Hertford House, Manchester Square; 44-207/563-9505) in the freshly pink sculpture courtyard. And at the Admiralty (The Strand; 44-207/845-4646), located in the Neoclassical riverside complex of Somerset House — the new home of the famed Gilbert Collection of Decorative Arts — Boris Rabin's terrines and pâtés are the talk of London. Even the Dulwich Picture Gallery, England's oldest, has emerged from its expensive face-lift with the bucolic Picture Gallery Café (Gallery Rd., Dulwich Village; 44-208/299-8717). Dine on smoked duck or take high tea while overlooking the lush five-acre garden.

So, which was sweeter, the Constable or the crème caramel?

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