Sketch: afternoon tea, eclectic design and Pierre Gagnaire's Michelin twist
Chef : The head chef Pierre Gagnaire, who is behind the menus across Sketch, is a twice awarded three Michelin star French gastronomic hero. He has spread his influence worldwide from his restaurants in Paris, London, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Seoul and Dubai. At Sketch he influenced the executive chefs creating the food in all restaurants across Sketch. It is though at the Lecture Room & Library, Sketch’s two Michelin starred fine dining restaurant, that his influence comes to life most vividly.
Atmosphere: The Parlour can transform from a breakfast venue, through comfort lunch and original afternoon tea until the last drink before heading to bed at home. After 6pm it turns into a cool bar scene here, while the afternoons are popular for the tea-to-tellers enjoying a cup of a warm beverage with a cake or sandwich. It is quirky, eclectic and warmly decorated. One can enjoy the same treats (except for breakfast), yet in a very different environment at The Glade (pictured below). The rather ‘foresty’ design of the room attracts the “natural” crowd with tendency to prefer organic produce and cotton t-shirts rather than leather jackets and fur coats. Rattan furniture, plant-based design and vibrant natural colours were created by the duo of artists Carolyn Quartermaine and Didier Mahieu.
Another and the largest room is the Gallery designed by Turner Prize winning artist Martin Creed and merging all shapes, colours and materials you can possibly imagine. The gallery os more of a gastro brasserie also headed by Pierre Gagnaire. The crème de la crème is the fine dining Lecture Room & Library upstairs that is a bit more serious affair, while still keeping its wonderful design in focus. Oh, and do not miss the opportunity to visit the legendary toilettes at Sketch, you will be surprised what you see and hear …
Food: With the exception of the gastronomic restaurant upstairs, the menus tend to intertwine so you will find some of the brasserie features at the Parlour and Gallery as well as at the Glade. One of these tasty dishes is the Artichoke salad. This starter of chopped baby artichokes, fennel with blue Stilton cheese, capped with fresh herb bouquet and baby salad leafs is refreshing a great with fresh green tea or a glass of white wine such as Sancerre.
Another common feature is Pierre’s salad of beefsteak tomatoes, salad, chicken breast, anchovies, crunchy croûtons, Parmesan cheese and refreshing creamy horseradish dressing. For the Caesar salad style lovers this is the right choice.
A healthful cup of Green soup blended from watercress, spinach, cucumber, green apple and a dollop of cream will please vegetarians and nutrition conscious diners.
On the other hand the more hearty Beef tartare served with potato “fondant” is perfectly tender (hopefully no horse meat in it, but I doubt it as it would not taste so smooth like this) and presented lovely with a shell of tiny quail egg with slightly running yolk in a mollet style.
Sandwiches, Mac and cheese, burgers and afternoon tea specialties such as daily made macaroons, scones, signature cakes with apt names such as “London to Paris”, King of Sketch” or a very French “Gâteau Chocolat” (the later being a chocolate sponge cake with mousse and passion fruit ganache) as well as finger sandwiches are great options too.
Drinks: From rare coffee, herbal infusions to Jing tea selection of real teas from green to black pu-erh, one can get plenty of energy and youthful antioxidants for an entire day or an afternoon caffeine kick. On a quite chilly cold early spring day I felt like soothing my bouncy mood with a pot of earthy and balanced pu-erh from China. Its is a speciality from Yunan province that is usually kept and sold in the form of cakes (the tea leaves are rigidly dry and stick together in the form of this cake or a bird’s nest that is actually baked to keep its longevity). Presented in a transparent pot and cup it was pretty, yet I did not have the opportunity to separate the steeped leaves from the water thus the tea got bitter over time. As I do not like to sip my tea too fast , I ended up with a bitter aftertaste after my last sips.
The wine list is done with a wit. I love the drawings above each wine with ties, scarves bows and other possible tops of shirts that a man can have, that probably had stirred the author’s imagination while he was sipping on each wine and drawing each representative of its taste above. The selection is good, yet the gastronomic restaurant above has much wider list that has got the Award of Excellence from WS.
Cuisine: New French
Visit: April 2013 (Since Sketch opened in 2002 I have dined there on a number of occasions, yet it is the forefront Parlour where I found my inner gourmet soul. The gastronomic restaurant still remains an interesting place to have a dinner and the Gallery is a fun room with great food while listening to the newest tunes of world music).
Price: High to very expensive at the gastronomic restaurant.
The Parlour: Mon-Fri: 8am – 2am, Sat: 10am – 2am & Sun: 10am – 12am.
The Glade: Mon-Thurs: 1pm-2am, Fri&Sat: 12pm-2am, Sun: 12pm-12am.
The Gallery: Mon-Sat: 6.30pm – 2am, Sun: 6pm – 12am.
Lecture Room & Library: Tues-Sat: Lunch: 12pm-2:30pm, Dinner: 7pm-11pm.
Address: 9 Conduit street, London W1S 2XG, UK.
Contact: Tel: +44 (0) 20 7659 4500