NAME: Sketch – The Gallery
WHAT IS IT?: The much Instagrammed perfectly pink dining room in the multi-venue Sketch townhouse, with food as imaginative as its decor.
MY PICKS: Duck breast (£38.00), Tchouki (£11.00)
CAN I TAKE MY VEGAN FRIEND?: Yes – the menu clearly indicates the vegan options, although there aren’t many (2 starters and 2 mains – no desserts!). It’s worth noting that we found Sketch Gallery pretty inflexible in altering dishes. Nonetheless, I guarantee they’ll enjoy the experience.
HOW MUCH DID WE SPEND?: £535.26 between 6 including alcohol (before discounts and service charge)
WHERE IS IT?: 9 Conduit Street, London, W1S 2XG
CLOSEST TUBE: Oxford Circus/Bond Street
Let’s skip straight to dessert!
Last night at Sketch, I had the most perfectly pastel pudding – up there with the most delicious and memorable desserts of my life. It was, I’m unsure why, named ‘Tchouki’, and carried a premium £11.00 price tag. But it was worth every penny.
Described on the menu as ‘Panna cotta with bitter almond, lemon Wurtz, Cristal de Vent with ice cream and marshmallow, Malabar flavoured Turkish Delight’; on ordering I was warned that Tchouki was not one for the faint hearted, as it carried a LOT of flavour. The waitress went on to describe my dessert of dreams – a deconstructed dish with a layer of almond panna cotta under airy bitter lemon mousse with hints of marshmallow and rose.
When it arrived I was instructed that, in order to taste the dessert as it was intended, I had to mix it all and mess it up. It was strangely satisfying to destroy the perfect plating, and I got stuck in – it was so good I could have been tempted to throw all decorum out of the window and licked the plate!
Now, before I move on to the rest of the food, let me tell you a bit about Sketch. Chances are you’ll already know of Sketch or at least have seen photos of the beautiful pink dining room, or the alien egg alike toilets (did you even go to Sketch if you didn’t take a toilet selfie?!), on social media, it’s an Instagrammers dream.
Housed in a Grade II listed Georgian townhouse in the heart of Mayfair (which was formerly the headquarters of the Suffragette movement in the late 19th century!), Sketch is made up of six very distinct, artist designed ‘rooms’, each of which provide a unique experience.
While the 2 Michelin starred first floor restaurant, The Lecture Room & Library, and the popular Gallery brasserie require bookings, other rooms take, and prefer, walk ins. So head down to Sketch, pick up an Art Map at the entrance and check out the artworks and design objects before grabbing a not modestly priced, but inventive, cocktail in one of the bars.
I made a point of visiting during the festive period as the Sketch interiors are redesigned for the seasons, and are always just magical! Inspired by The Wind In The Willows, the theme for Christmas 2018 is Dolce Domum (Latin for Sweet Home).
Inside the main entrance hall, after walking through archways of giant candy, is a beautiful winter scene, with snowfall and angel statues. Above the reception for The Gallery and The Glade (which featured the most beautiful wintery découpage forest) is a hologram telling a story of pagans and the Winter solstice.
Of course, with my visit being on Christmas Eve, these stunning decorations will soon be gone, but I’d recommend checking out what they do for 2019! Not only for Christmas, but Valentines Day, Easter, Halloween…
Part restaurant, part art gallery, The Gallery, with pink velvet and copper accented interiors by India Mahdavi and featuring a long term exhibition of David Shrigley artwork (he even designed the tableware, which is available for purchase), is the ideal place for ladies who lunch.
Service was near perfect – the staff were attentive, charismatic, stylish and knowledgeable about the food. Which was lucky because, and in fact this is my only real criticism of The Gallery, the menu required a lot of guesswork. While The Gallery have done a fantastic job of indicating options suitable to vegans and vegetarians, the menu doesn’t really make it clear what exactly it is you’re ordering, and some key ingredients (such as pork and alcohol) which a lot of people would likely need to avoid, are omitted from descriptions.
I started this post with dessert, and with my choice of starter (pumpkin and passionfruit ice cream with grapes, onion marmalade and mortadella, £16.00), it was almost as though I started my dinner with dessert! The dish was well executed – the flavours, which I was unsure as to whether they would combine well, were balanced and it was a refreshing, well portioned yet not heavy, choice. I’m not entirely sure that savoury ice cream is for me (as I discovered at Kinilaw & Buko!), but I would order this again.
Oysters were reasonably priced at £22.00 for six, and well presented on dry ice.
I didn’t find the selection of mains particularly inspiring, and played it safe somewhat with my choice of Mallard duck breast with fresh green peppercorns, crushed Jerusalem artichokes, Bigorre bacon and bitter chocolate leaf, £38.00. I asked for it to be served ‘very, very, very rare’ and it arrived perfectly pink (I think ‘perfectly pink’ is a good summary of the entire experience it seems!), just how I wanted it. The sauce, with its occasional deep hit of chocolate, was divine.
I did feel I’d been upsold slightly, as I’d asked my server if a side dish was needed with the duck, and was told yes, which led to me spending £6.50 I didn’t really need to spend on an admittedly lovely potato and thyme sourdough. Which does lead me to another point – at an establishment in this price bracket, I would expect a complimentary bread basket.
I digress, back to the duck. I didn’t need that sourdough because accompanying the dish was a pot of some kind of quinoa like pasta with an incredible fois gras sauce. It was very well received, but it takes me back to the lack of description on the menu, I would have liked to have known it was coming!
This seemed to be the overall consensus amongst my companions. Whilst I’m told that the Sketch tartare Autumn 2018, £27.00, was delicious (and just look at that presentation!), the accompanying vodka with tomato and cranberry was a bit of a surprise! And the poor girl who chose the very safe sounding sea bass with squid rings, £36.00, didn’t expect the dish to heavily feature a black squid ink sauce!
Whilst I personally can’t recommend Sketch Gallery highly enough for both food and overall experience, I definitely learnt that this is a place where you really need to ask questions of your server!
*All food and drink paid for by ourselves.