Monday, 1 April 2013

Sketch Lecture Room & Library

A funky and artistic experience

Sketch is a collection of 5 different restaurants and bars on the edge of Mayfair, just a few yards away from the excellent Alyn Williams at Westbury. Sketch has to be one of the most expensive restaurant ever created in London, over  £10 millions was spend including hiring renowned interior designers and sculptors, the whole building is full of artistic elements, I felt like stepping into an art gallery while I was there.
The Glade
The Gallery

I went to Sketch for a very good values treat of gourmet 3 courses lunch with half bottle of wine and coffee in the 2 Michelin starred Lecture Room which oversee by the legendary Pierre Gagnaire. Which at £53 per person, I must say it is not a bad deal at all! It was such an experience even just on the arrival, the front of house greeted and told us he has been expecting us, took us for a small walk and briefly explain the concepts behind sketch before opening the door to the grand looking Lecture room.
Lecture Room and Library

Kicked off the meal with some amuse bouche of French sausage moose, goat cheese, spinach macaroon, parmesan and spices crackers. Out of the lots the goat cheese spinach macaroon was the best, nice depth of flavours from the cheese sandwiched between the sweet spinach layers. I really appreciate how some restaurants go the extra miles of making a great effort of producing quality amuse bouche, it definitely makes a different for the entire experience. The bread was decent but the butter was outstanding, the seaweed butter was flavoursome  light in texture but rich in taste.
amuse bouche

We had a selection of starters, first was New Caledonian blue shrimp with citrus jelly, ginger, cucumber and papaya. It was light and refreshing, the jelly worked so well with the sweet shrimp with the cucumber and papaya added a hint of fresh fruity notes on the palate. This dish was perfect with the sommelier's choice of white wine. It was crisp, floral and yet so soft. This is just the kind of combo you want for a warm summer day. Next was a vegetarian with red pepper coulis, mint, green pepper ice cream and Tokyo turnips. This was another very refreshing starter, good mixture of vegetables, no one flavour stood out and I think that is what the chefs were after. It was a good balance of sweet and earthy flavours.

Third starter was a mouth watering of chicken gizzards, snails, shallot confit in red wine, parsley and crunchy rice. This was the best dish of the day, it was such a taste bud sensations. Lovely texture came from the tender gizzards and snails, the shallot confit and parsley added great depth of spices and richness, which was absorbed by the fine cooked crunchy rice. Last starter was Foie Gras "Ringo Starr", It was a surprise seeing a foie gras moose topping it with chocolate, but it worked wonder! The rich and bold flavours of the foir gras matched great with the sweet and crispness of a thin layer of chocolate, I wonder how did the chefs came up with such an idea in the first place!
selection of starters

For main I had a chicken curry dish (A chicken curry in a modern French restaurant!) It was a well cooked dish, the depth of sweet spices came through nicely without over powering the chicken and the meat was cooked at the right level. But I think it lacks the extra step to be consider a great dish, I expect a lot more for a 2 stars venue and it is the same for the sea bass I had from my friends'. It just hasn't got the wow factor like the chicken dish I had at Hibiscus and the sea bass from Helene Darroze, both were exceptional and unfortunately Sketch failed to match that. However the matching wine was great, it was a 2010 Pinit Noir, rich in body and fruity in taste, good pick from the wine sommelier.
2010 Bourgogne
Chicken curry
Pan fired sea bass

We finished off the meal with selections of "Pierre Gagnaire" dessert. The dragon fruit dessert was by far the weakest and it just tasted like a mixture of fresh fruit blended together. It got better with the coconut cream based dessert and even better was the chocolate tart at the end, lovely layers of sweet and bitter chocolate on a well-made pastry base. Finished off with a 30 years old Armagnac was a great way end the meal.

What can I say, the meal has its up and down, the starter was of high quality, the dessert was a mix bag and main was a real let down. I think it is worth 1 star at best in term of judging sketch purely on food quality. Service was friendly but did make a few errors of delivering the wrong dish and drinks. However I don't think any venues in London can match its unique d├ęcor and ambience, truly spectacular. This is the kind of place you would want to impress your date or a client.

Food 3/5

Executive chef: 
Pierre Gagnaire

What I paid: 
£60 per head with wine

Average cost without drinks and services :
£40 lunch menu
£110 tasting menu

9 Conduit St, London W1S 2XG

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