Not long ago, a friend of mine told me about the opening of the new restaurant sudest 1401 inside the VAC Foundation, but I still hadn't had the chance to go since the day of the inauguration. Then on Thursday, while reading Artribune online, my eyes fell on an article on the new restaurants opened inside three Venetian museums (see here) and interpreted as a sign: the time had arrived to try it out!
I went with Vito for lunch on a Saturday. While the entrance to the foundation is located along the Zattere, the one to the restaurant is from the side calle Trevisan. Sudest 1401 represents a lovely novelty in the city, a place where art, food and different cultures naturally merge together. As soon as you walk in, you find yourself in a small garden overlooking a canal, in the centre you will see the artistic installation Laguna Viva. The project is realised by the London based collective Assemble and the organisation We Are Here Venice and consists of two water tanks that recreate the delicate environment of the lagoon's barene (limbs of land that get submerged with the high tide).
Sudest 1401 offers both indoor and outdoor seating and is managed by Hamed Ahmadi, the same person behind Orient and Africa Experience, where the staff are all political refugees from the east and the middle east. Here, too, food is the excuse that allows conviviality and integration between different cultures, and the Balkan and Sicilian menu represents the geographical and cultural journey undertaken by migrants on their way to Italy. As you can imagine, the atmosphere is lovely and relaxed and the people are very friendly.
We sat outside, next to us plenty of samphire, sea fennel and other lagoon plants. The climate in Venice right now is extremely hot and humid, but under the shade of the umbrella and armed with a cool beer we started feeling better. It didn't take long for us to choose. The menu, in fact, is short but well assorted and has lots of options for both vegan and vegetarians! As a starter, we shared two side dishes: a caponata and a warm salad with green beans and tomatoes. Caponata is a Sicilian dish made with chopped and fried eggplants and other summer nightshades, seasoned with sweetened vinegar and sweet and sour capers. Really delicious. The salad was nice too, with the green beans left a little bit firm, as I prefer them. Simple and fresh, just what we were looking for.
Then as a main Vito had ćevapčići, which are a southern European dish (typical of countries like Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia) consisting of minced meat and lots of garlic and usually served with a bell pepper, cucumber and onion salad topped with feta cheese and black olives. Something strong and very flavoursome. The ćevapčići were shaped as meatballs rather than sausages and Vito was very happy, while I enjoyed some of his salad. Strangely, but maybe it's because of this terrible heat, I wasn't feeling that hungry so I just ordered a tabbouleh salad, made with bulgur, chopped parsley and other vegetables and a side dish of roast potatoes. Lovely! We drank beer, water and to end the meal Vito had the traditional ammazza caffè (literally: coffee killer, a liquor to help digestion!). In case you were curious, the prices are very very fair (all dishes range between 6 and 13 euros) and I personally think it's a lovely addition in Venice.
After lunch, we seized the opportunity to visit the exhibition entitled 'The Explorers', where works of both famous and less known artists are shown together and take us (reporting the words on the leaflet) through 'a timeless subject in the history of art-nature, botanical and human'. The palace itself, once property of the Captain of the Port, is a good reason alone to visit: three storeys where original wooden beams, Venetian pavements and fragments of stuccos wonderfully combine with the contemporary interventions of the matt dark concrete, the amazing staircase and the various panels.
The main artists are renowned painter Lynette Yadom-Boakye, who has selected works revolving around the theme of nature, among which the bright and colourful still life with sunflowers by David Hockney and a fuchsia cow (from the cow series) by Andy Warhol, and British moving image artist James Richard, whose work I absolutely adore. His caustic installation is just incredible: on the top floor, in a room with a haunting painting by Francis Bacon, he created an audio environment in which he immerses both canvas and audience. In his case, to complement his work the curator chose nudes and figures by artists ranging from Renoir to Giacometti, Schiele to Sherman. The other less known artists' take us through the drama of the 20th century and invite us to reflect on a state of being, each offering their very unique perspective on human nature'. A very clever exhibition that will be definitely worth your time!
I really enjoyed my day and we ended up spending there a couple of hours! The VAC Foundation and the cafeteria sudest 1401 are open everyday from 8am to 11pm and I highly recommend a visit! The entrance to the exhibition is free of charge, the staff is helpful and available to guide you through the works or simpl