Sketch, The Gallery – London

Posted on 13 May 2011

It makes sense that Sketch’s Gallery restaurant is actually an art gallery by day, bringing modern art creations to London’s stylish and moneyed Mayfair area. Entering The Gallery, guests encounter a huge open space with a mix of furnishings that are works of art themselves. A massive video projection covers the entire top half of the wall, creating a sort of moving wallpaper. The night I visited, they played an edited cut from Alien (or maybe Aliens—the artsy edits made it so I only recognized Sigourney Weaver and the hatching monster eggs).

Our server mentioned as an aside, “The video can sometimes put people off.” I liked it. And I liked the truly over-the-top aesthetic of the whole restaurant that was so bold that while it risks “putting off” diners seeking something more traditional, it richly rewards those up for an experience.

Playful details offer frequent surprises and texture to eating at Sketch, and tweak a diner’s expectations of the restaurant experience in general. A pop-up menu surprises visitors with protruding forks, and a seemingly porcelain espresso cup and saucer turns out to be made of malleable silicone when picked up. Didn’t I mention eggs? The individual pod-shaped bathroom stalls, located up a winding spiral staircase that surrounds Sketch’s Egg bar are perhaps the pinnacle of Sketch’s off-kilter offerings.

The Gallery’s a la carte menu shares a similar adventurousness in both its ingredients and presentation. The exquisite foie gras terrine incorporated apricot and honeyed pine nuts to create wonderfully rich and complex flavors. My date ordered an oyster dish as a starter, which combined French beans, kombu jelly and banana into what was memorable, but ultimately too strange a mix of ingredients for our taste.

However, the mains were balanced wonderfully. The diced rib-eye tartare looked great before I even tried a bite of it, molded into a small cylinder next to a similar small tower of fondant potato. The gherkins, spring onions and egg mollet that were blended into the tartare created a smooth texture and full-bodied, satisfying flavor. My date’s roast lamb fillet, with peanut and tandoori was also delicious, incorporating green mango and papaya as well as dried Paris mushrooms.

But the real standout of The Gallery’s menu may have been its desserts. It offers some very unusual twists, such as the Baba Bobo 4, a sponge cake soaked in rum accompanied by red pepper jelly, or the Chocolate Cateau, a caramel fudge with maldon salt butter, pecans and Caraibe chocolate cream. Each can be paired with a recommended dessert wine.

The Gallery is just one of Sketch’s numerous spaces. It also includes the higher-end Lecture Room and Library dining space, The Glade lounge, as well as the East Bar lounge. For those looking to experience Sketch’s eccentric art and style in a more casual setting would be wise to stop by The Parlour. Its Louis XV furnishing and quirky lighting and décor make for a relaxing and eccentric place for breakfast, afternoon tea, or an evening cocktail from its extensive and consistently delicious menu.

-Alex Palmer

9 Conduit Street
London W1S 2XG
+44 (0) 20 7659 4500

Categorized | Eat & Drink