January 28, 2013


One of my days galavanting around London, Joanna, Jason, Kim and I had lunch at Sketch. 

Located on Conduit Street just off Reagent Street in London's posh uptown, Mayfair (the most-wanted Monopoly property!), it is an 18th century neoclassical townhouse, which later housed the RIBA headquarters. 

Sketch includes two restaurants; The Gallery and the Lecture Room, two bars; The Glade and The East Bar, and an all-day cafe; The Parlour. French head chef Pierré Gagnaire, known for his three Michelin star restaurant in Paris has successfully earned Sketch two Michelin stars for his french nouvelle themed menu. The Lecture Room is a fine dining restaurant with a meal for two costing about 200 pounds! Crazy!

We ate at The Parlour Room- the little patisserie at the front end of the house. The decor was most unusual. An eclectic mix of 18th century antique with a 1970's twist. Mismatched banquet chairs and footstools, stag heads, metal sculptures, tasseled lamps, post modern art work and wallpaper that was different on every wall provided quite an bizarre, yet fascinating setting. I couldn't help but stare into every corner as my brain tried to assimilate this style. I felt a bit odd to take pictures of everything, so you'll have to rely on Google to get a full picture.

The design of the menu was equally interesting. I counted a total of 11 different fonts used. From 19th century calligraphy and it's contrasting sans-serifed type. It was illustrated with black and white sketches of classical household objects. 

The cuisine in The Parlour, although typically French and English cafe fare, is termed as comfort food. The prices weren't cheap. Thankfully we weren't too hungry and were satisfied with the gourmet portions too. Between us, we ordered a Leek Quiche, Macaroni gratinated with Emmenthal with a side of celeriac remoulade salad, warm pitta pocket with feta, baby spinach and cherry tomatoes, and Asparagus with Hervé This eggs, pecorino and rocket. It was a tasty array of food. The emmenthal flavour was delightful, but I wasn't as much a fan of the celeriac remoulade. The Pitta pocket was slightly ordinary, but still tasty. I always thought 'Herve This eggs' were just poached eggs. On further research, Hervé This is actually a food scientist who discovered that cooking eggs in 65 degrees produces the perfectly cooked egg with the whites coagulated but the yolk nice and runny. 

Dessert was the bigger hit. It was so hard to chose. I have this big phobia of menus. There are always too many options. The names of dishes and their accompanying description only makes the process harder. This was no different. I finally decided that I'd chose the most weird sounding dessert. I remember it having the most unappetising name out of the lot- 'Bob' but had an unusual combination of sweet and savoury flavours. Unfortunately it wasn't available.

This was our final order- Strawberry Hill: Sable biscuit, almond cream with kiwi compote, Greek yoghurt and lime mousse topped with strawberries and an edible yellow pansy. Chocolate Tartlet: Sweet pastry dough with Macae chocolate ganache and chocolate jelly, glazed with dark chocolate. 

Gateau Chocolat: Salted butter caramel, Manjari chocolate mousse, sacher sponge cake and hazelnut and an Exotic Pate a choux: Tangy pate a choux filled with vanilla mousse, caramel, passion fruit jelly and Tonka bean chantilly.

Flavours were quite grand. Many of the flavours were new. My conclusions:
1. Fancy types of chocolate do taste better. 
2. Tonka beans aren't much different to vanilla.
3. Edible flowers have no flavour. They are just pretty. 
4. Kiwi and Lime make an excellent combination!

The interior design at Sketch is quite a wonder. I thought The Parlour was eccentric, but it was quite subtle in comparison to the other rooms. 

Lets start with the bathroom. It tops the list of London's Top Ten Loos by Time Out. By far, the strangest I've ever been to. Unlike the clash of styles of the Parlour, the toilet was a stark, blinding white with a multi-coloured stained glass checkerboard skylight. Wide staircases lead up to a large field of eggs that seemed to be transported from one of Salvador Dali's installations. A striking contrast was the attire of the caretakers; they were dressed as Victorian maids! Each alien egg has a little door and contains a pot.  Ornate sinks, convex mirrors and weird lights were dotted along the periphery. It was strange enough to sit on the loo inside an egg, but what added to the weirdness was what they played over the speakers in each pod. My cousin heard some political speech while I had to listen to crowds shouting while I emptied my bladder. So so strange! 

The Gallery was probably the most impressive to me. It was designed by Martin Creed and to summarise the design: No two chairs, lamps, tables or dinnerware is alike! It is a vast melange of furniture from classic antiques and contemporary styles from designers all over the world. Every spoon, fork and candlestick is different. I studied the pictures for ages admiring the diversity of styles, colours and textures just on one table. The flooring (composed of 96 types of marble) and walls are an array of geometric patterns in vibrant colours. The menu is also designed with a similar concept. Each dish containing contrasting elements, cuisines and flavours with equally contrasting names. The first item on the menu is "Winter pumpkin soup, popcorn, sweetcorn ice cream with goat’s cheese" Quite mind blowing.

I briefly glanced into The Glade and The East Bar. Didn't get a chance to see The Lecture Room. The design of The Glade, as the name suggests, suddenly takes you into the heart of a forest. Patchwork decoupage foliage wallpaper, cane furniture and a stunning light feature on the ceiling made up of intertwining branches. 

In the lobbies are some unusual furniture unrelated to any of the themes but perfectly blending to the nonchalance and absurdity of the styles. 

With the final touch of craziness, we hopped down the hopscotch pattern drawn on the floor on our way out. :)

Check out their website here.

This should sort of summarise the place:

sketch film from sketch on Vimeo.

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