I had the day off last Thursday and decided to indulge in lunch at the über-cool Sketch in Central London. The brain-child of restauranter Mourad Mazouz and chef Pierre Gagnaire, Sketch was conceived as a solution to fulfilling their dream of having a desirable destination for food, art and music.
Sketch is currently offering a super deal on their nifty-titled ‘Rapide Lunch’ – although we were less ‘rapide’ and more ‘sluggish’ taking an impressive 2.5hrs over our lunch. The Rapide Lunch consists of a short menu from which you start with a glass of champagne, sample 4 starters (tapas style), then select a main and finish with selection of desserts all for £46. The super deal bit is that they chuck in a free ticket to the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy as well. Mind you, I say ‘chuck in’ but what I discovered upon arrival is that they actually lovingly place your tickets in a envelope which is then hand-tied with a red bow, inscribed with your name in gorgeous handwriting and left on your table for you to take with you.
If I could sum up Sketch in 3 words they would be ‘delightful’, ‘enchanting’ and ‘detail’. Upon arriving at the restaurant, we were very warmly welcomed by the host, David, and a collection of waitresses all dressed in traditional parlour maid outfits. David confidently took us under his wing and led us up the stairs to the Library room on the first floor. Whilst chaperoning us he took the time to explain the history of the building, which at one time was the House of Dior.
Sketch’s founders are clearly believers that God is in the detail, from the mind-bendingly artistic toilets that make you feel like you’re momentarily trapped inside Vivienne Westwood’s acid-induced dream-state, to the highly prized objets d’art that are proudly displayed amongst sumptuous velvet upholsteries, and the barely noticable pause David took as we reached the double door entrance to the Library room before he (being sure we were ready and paying the necessary attention) throws open both doors to bathe you in the colours and light that adorn this fabulous setting. Despite actually noticing the theatre and effect that had gone in to that subtle move, I still was impressed enough to draw a little gasp of air as my heart-rate slightly increased as the growing anticipation and excitement of what was to come…
The Library is designed to make you feel comfortable. The brightly patterned designer armchairs that you sit in are built for comfort as well as aesthetic, and the fact that David hurriedly fetched me a cushion to put behind my back to increase my comfort levels meant that I was in the lap of luxury. Sketch is attentive, Sketch is warm, Sketch is stunningly fabulous.
I must admit, between you and I, that on first impression I was slightly concerned that Sketch was going to be achingly pretentious. The art, the theatre and the setting all pointed towards the place being crammed full of snobs who sneered at me for actually eating everything on my plate and drinking my wine too fast, but in reality they were wholly down to earth. Yes, there’s a fair amount of pomp and circumstance to their service style, but you are made to feel more like they’re there to facilitate you really enjoying your experience, rather than trying to set an unachievable tone that you, pleb, must adhere to.
Despite being in the ‘cheap seats’ with our lunchtime deal we were not made to feel ‘cheap’ in the slightest. We weren’t hurried through our courses, we weren’t made to feel like we needed to leave straight after our dessert, and in fact they smiled warmly at us and chatted pleasantly even when we were the last two left in the restaurant and were calmly finishing up our coffee.
Sketch is an experience. If you liked being charmed and delighted then I would highly recommend you get yourself down there whilst this offer is still available. It’s the perfect place to take someone you’re hoping to impress, it’s perfect for a couple looking to grab a romantic bite, but equally it’s the sort of place you’d happily take a client you wanted to schmooze.
The food is impressive, but for me, what really left a lasting impression about going to Sketch is the attention to detail and the very top standard of service. You are really made to feel like you’re someone very special indeed, and that is always going to win me round every single time.
Please note: There is an additional £10 charge for adding a cheese course – but it is WELL worth it as they have a fantastic selection.