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Pret A Diner Pop Up Mixes Modern Italian Food With Modern Italian Art

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PRET A DINER
Vittorio Corsini's 'breathing' cross | .

A trip to an art gallery and a romantic meal has long been the culture vulture's date of choice.

What could be more impressive as you attempt to woo than knowing your fettuccini from your Brunelleschi?

A pop up restaurant in London believes the two needn't be separates parts of the same night out, and is continuing the growing trend for marrying fine food with art installations.

Visitors to Pret A Diner Italian's Do It Better on 50 St. Jame's Street between now and 30 June can dine on fine modern Italian food surrounded by what they organizers believe is equally fine, modern Italian art.

Included in the show is the work of Vittorio Corsini, whose arresting red cross looms down at you from the top of the staircase.

Made up of 500 red LED lights, it illuminates at an interval of 28 seconds, echoing human breathing and makes a far more interesting focal point for entering the dining room than a vase of flowers.

Elsewhere before you're seated, a separate room holds a one-off piece Giovanni Ozzola - a young artist who has won a string of prestigious public commissions across Italy - called Fear and Hope.

It's a found boat which survived a shipwreck, and is inscribed with the two words in neon lights. The work is a response to the odd statistic that 70% of people who survive a shipwreck die of a heart attack within three days.

The dining room, in a bizarre divergence from the Italian theme, is designed to look like a basketball court (although hotdogs and nachos unsurprisingly don't make the menu), with additional pieces on the walls. Upstairs, photography from the likes of Lorenzo Agius complete the cool credentials required by such a salubrious location.

All in all though, is mixing art and food really a good idea?

The curators at Pret A Diner have done a fantastic job of blending the artwork into the environment so that it feels like you're supposed to be eating there - anything that felt like being plonked at a table in the middle of an art gallery would have been a disaster.

At the same time, some of the pieces seemed a little under appreciated by the crowd of diners, most of whom opted for the busy bar over the small adjacent room that holds some of the more interesting work on display.

With Michelin standard food on offer, there's no question what the main event was going to be.

But then the food/art fusion spreading through London's dining scene isn't about putting art front and centre, but creating an atmosphere in which to relax and discuss it - something this pop up series has achieved admirably.