Galleries across the country have lifted their game in recent years, adding world-class hospitality to their offering and creating a multi-sensory experience for the eyes and the tastebuds. Fancy lingering overing a lychee martini with panoramic views of Sydney Harbour? Or meandering through a quirky art-filled Prahan warehouse, macchiato in hand? Read on to discover the galleries which let you have your coffee and drink it too.
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Chiswick at the Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney
Chiswick at the Gallery brings together a trifecta of Sydney chef royalty: Matt Moran, Peter Sullivan from MorSul and Bruce Solomon from Solotel. The restaurant occupies a cosy corner of the Gallery with spectacular views of Woolloomooloo and Sydney Harbour. Much like its sister restaurant in Woollahra, Chiswick is all about relaxed casual dining with a large communal table and a menu focused on fresh and locally sourced produce. If you can ever drag yourself away from that view, be sure to take in the Gallery's comprehensive collection of contemporary and old Australian art, and stunning colonial architecture.
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White Rabbit Gallery, Sydney
Hidden in the backstreets of streets of Chippendale, Sydney's über-cool artistic enclave, is a flawlessly restored 1920s knitting factory which now houses the world's largest collection of contemporary Chinese art. White Rabbit's exhibitions are truly exquisite, with four levels of expertly curated art which is often edgy, confronting and highly political. After all your cultural absorption, retire to the tranquil tea house on the ground level for their signature chicken and coriander or egg and chive dumplings. Wash it down with a pot of lychee green tea and rummage through the gift shop of Chinese trinkets, prints and souvenirs.
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À Bloc, Melbourne
The boys behind À Bloc are taking the concept of multi-purpose spaces to the next level with their café cum bike store cum art gallery. Don't be put off by the bicycle stereotype - this isn't about men in lycra. Think a sleek, whitewashed Amsterdam-style warehouse with a relaxed vibe and great coffee. Owners Chris Wright and Tony McPeake come from design and building backgrounds, and are focused on creating a vibe where people from all different walks of life can appreciate the bike and art cultures. Co-owner Chris Wright says of the space, "I'm actually most excited about the gallery. That gives people a no-pressure reason to come in and feel inspired, have a chat and grab a coffee. But don't get me wrong, we sell all the gadgets too."
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Moana Project Space, Perth
This gallery, café and shared office space nestled above Perth's CBD is a hidden architectural gem, well worth a visit to sink back a flat white on the leafy heritage verandah. Moana was born after a City of Perth report found 17,000 square kilometres of abandoned and inaccessible space in the CBD. So Nic Brunsdon and Beth George from Spacemarket set out to transform the dormant Moana Chambers into a mixed use creative space for Perth artists. Credit must go to Post-Architecture for seamlessly marrying the old with the new - high ceilings, ornate arches and cornices are balanced with heavy timber, brushed metal and stainless steel. For added aesthetic pleasure, Moana presents an annual exhibition program featuring some of the most exciting emerging talent to come out of the west.