Young and coffee in varying degrees, Kat also says stuff @ThoroughlyMode
Published January 10th 2011
Sketch isn't just one restaurant, it's more a collective. And an art collective at that, as what each of these eating places offers is lots to look at, lots to listen to and lots to taste. They're also known for their drinks. And their loos designed by Galliano. And the faceless dog that stands guard out the front. And the beautiful, cool, bright, buzzy and colourful people who come here.
If it sounds a bit intimidating from the outset, but don't worry, the Sketch team may have fancy tastes, but they haven't forgotten that they're only there to please their guests.
The Lecture Room & Library is the home base of French Master Chef Pierre Gagnaire, he's earned a Michelin star for it and it's more at the fancy end of the gastronomic scale – meals burst with unusual flavours and each item on the menu is a paragraph not a single line.
Eg. Scallops and John Dory John Dory Poached in Espelette Butter / Celery and Anchovies / Piquillos / Flavoured Olive Oil Oven-baked Scallops / Grapefruit Marmalade / Creamy Parmesan Sauce Scallop Carpaccio / Avocado and Rocket Salad / Cucumber and Passionfruit 52
Of course you pay for the privilege, mains start at £35 and top out at £58.
If this sounds intimidating don't let it put you off – the 'Gourmet Rapide' lunch is less than £50 a head for three courses including a glass of dry sherry, half a bottle of wine and water, coffee and petit fours. This is a good way to taste test the inventive dishes Gagnaire comes up with without having to confront the full menu.
The Gallery, upstairs, is the beating, gastro-heart of Sketch. It's here, amongst the hand painted Julie Verhoeven chairs and the regularly changing video installations projected high up on the walls like a space shuttle interior, that you can be served some of Sketch's classic meals. They're not too fancy to be incomprehensible: we all know what a Roast Rib Eye is, and what Beef Tartare is, and what a Grilled Salmon is.
Of course the way they're cooked and what they're served with might not be quite what you're expecting, but while the flavours might be in unusual combinations, everything is recognisable.
The Parlour is a bit more casual again, hence the name. In this case the word casual applies to the menu more than the décor, which is still highlighted by antique chairs – this time upholstered with images of saucy ladies. This cafe style menu you'll be able to understand more readily – there are a lot of sandwiches on it, and classics like mac-n-cheese to a fresh take on steak tartare, served with egg mollet - but it still gives a nod to what's going on upstairs and nothing will be quite what you're expecting or what it seems. The Parlour does breakfasts, as well as excellent afternoon teas, and in the evening it gets clubbier.
The whole Sketch experience is one of colour and fun – even in the more formal dining rooms. The food is complex, yes, and the surrounds shout at you from all directions, but this isn't just dining it's an experience.
Make sure you try out the bathrooms. If you skip them you'll not have really been to Sketch.