Ocher at the NG - 01
Spotlight

Ochre

Words by HARRIET RUSSELL

Where great food meets beautiful surroundings –
along with plenty of history and artistic flair –
Harriet Russell speaks to the creative team behind Ochre at
The National Gallery to find out how they put together such
a welcoming and stylish restaurant.

Ocher at the NG

The bar had to change in atmosphere at different times of the day, to create a unique ambiance.

On entering Ochre, guests are immediately confronted with two distinct visions. Set either side of a plush velvet, curved banquette – designed by award-winning architecture specialists Red Deer – there is first a chic and welcoming bar. The art deco influences are strong, but the angular lines are softened by luxurious materials and soft lighting, the mood set by three impressive table lamps spaced equidistant down the back counter. On the other side of the banquette, diners sit at generously spaced marble-topped tables, some accompanied by rattan chairs, others by velvet armchairs. Comfort and ease are two words that instantly spring to mind, but it’s clear Ochre’s main objective is to make its customers feel entirely at home.

When Ochre owners Charlotte and Sam were tasked with creating three different catering spaces at The National Gallery, they knew Ochre – the high-end concept – would require a unique look and feel. With its own entrance onto Charing Cross Road, the husband-and-wife team saw it as their chance to create a special dining destination housed in the hallowed atrium of a 200-year-old building.

“We knew wanted to create a vibrant, contemporary and grand restaurant that would complement the food and be able to take the customer from lunch to afternoon tea, right through to dinner. The beautiful bar – where we serve cocktails and snacks – also had to change in atmosphere at different times of the day, both to elevate the customer experience and to create a unique ambiance,” the duo explains.

Ocher at the NG
Ocher at the NG

The inclusion of contemporary banquette seating that zig zags across the centre of the main space not only separates the drinking area from the dining area – but it also playfully mimics a paint stroke.

Working within such hallowed halls had its challenges, says Lucas Che Tizard, the architect behind Ochre and the co-founder of Red Deer, but the team focused its efforts on taking inspiration from the unparalleled surroundings. “We look at what made up the structure of a painting, and also took cues from the name ‘ochre’ itself – a pigment found within rocks and soil,” he tells The Condo. “The palette is a mixture of earthy colours including burnt oranges, yellows and browns, and these tones are then continued in the various textiles, ranging from deep lvelvets and bouclé to raw cottons and linens. The addition of hand-patinated brass throughout further adds to this painterly palette, while the handmade ceramic tables by Emma Lloyd-Pane recall large ochre paint splashes.”

On the ground floor of the gallery, Ochre retains many of the building’s original features – including high ceilings and large windows. The inclusion of contemporary banquette seating that zig zags across the centre of the main space not only separates the drinking area from the dining area – but it also playfully mimics a paint stroke. “This focal point pays homage to the history of the building and to the act of painting itself,” explains Lucas. “The wooden bar stools continue this artistic theme with the bases shaped in the form of painters’ palettes.”

Lighting is a key component in Red Deer’s designs and at Ochre, the atmospheric ambience gives diners a sense of being seated within a still life painting. As for the restaurant’s other features, Charlotte and Sam certainly have their favourites, too. “We’re lucky to have such beautiful windows framing Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square and in the private dining room, Red Deer designed an incredible chandelier to sit over a round walnut table. From the outside, you can see it light up the room at night. We also have one of Ben Storms’ mirror sculptures on the main wall – it’s stunning.”

When it came time to secure the smaller details – the napkins, the glassware, the plates – Charlotte and Ben took their time to ensure they achieved the right look and feel. “We had a real vision of what we wanted,” the duo explains. “For example, 100% linen tablecloths, crystal glasses and fine bone china for the tea service were non-negotiables. We also worked with several artisanal brands to develop the look of the space – G&G Goodfellows for the crockery, Artis glassware, Emma Lloyd-Payne for the bar tables, Inside Out Contracts for the main furniture, and then London Upholsterers and Rug Artisan for our runners and rugs.”

At the end of the day, the result is simple. “Ochre brings people and food together as one,” say Charlotte and Sam. “The architecture, interiors, features, food and staff make it a great place for family and friends to return to time and again.”

To make a booking for Ochre, visit Ochre.London.

Ocher at the NG

Crystal glasses and fine bone china for the tea service were non-negotiables when designing the restaurant.

Ocher at the NG
Ocher at the NG

Ochre brings people and food together as one.

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