My first memory of Sketch was when it had newly opened and I ended up doing a brief stint in the Gallery kitchen. I had no clue who Pierre Gangaire was, but that he was some big shot French chef who had teamed up with Mourad Mazouz of Momo to open an uber-luxe, decadent space in the West End where the restaurant was an enormous art gallery, the waitresses very beautiful, the kitchen brand new, the toilets worth a trip just on their own and the prices exorbitant. Almost a decade later, Michelin’s usual palaver of leaked results stated that the upstairs restaurant, Lecture Room & Library had just won their second star, having dined there just a week before.
The general consensus about Sketch during our evening there was that the service really is above and beyond, with the general manager really going out of his way to put you on the palms of his hands and looking after you. Little details like giving you a warm cloak when you step out for a smoke puts service right on top! And now for the nitty gritty…
Starting off with Perfume of the Earth which is, as they tell you, inspired by one of Gagnaire’s favourite perfumes, ‘Terre d’Hermes’. Starting from left and going clockwise, we have: smoked cocotte of snails and vegetables, foie gras soup with port; Bouillon Zezette, paleta Iberica, parsley ice cube; Black olive jelly, burrata and Abbe Nollet vegetable leaves; White beetroot and almond tart.
The starter itself could be a tasting menu! A myriad of flavours all coming out in good proportion with my only criticism being that because there’s so many things to try, the things that are meant to be eaten hot, lose temperature rapidly. Nevertheless, this is a fun and playful dish that was thoroughly enjoyed.
My main course of Lamb also came in various guises. The main plate was Saddle of quercy lamb, green cabbage, stuffed fresh grapes, olives, garlic, pan fried rack with oregano, turnips with port. Once again, brilliant execution and not as complicated as it sounds on paper. However, I didn’t much care for the tomato and sweetbread tartlet that came with some dubious looking jelly on top and which by the time I went to eat it, was stone cold and tasted like the tomato sauce had come out of a tin. The last component of ewe cheese yoghurt with roquefort and dried apricot was unnecessary.
Desserts were the grand selection of Pierre Gagnaire desserts consisting of:
Strawberry sorbet, eau de vie, vanilla infused milk, strawberry wurtz; Macaroon biscuit, lemon cream, kirsch parfait; Bailey’s cream, mint mousse, coffee jelly, yoghurt sorbet; Candied fennel with star anise, bitter almond ice cream
In all honesty, whilst the desserts were lovely, they were an onslaught of flavours and sensations with none particularly standing out as va va voom.
In general, I have to say that at Sketch, one is served far too much food than what is necessary. We shared the starter, had a main each and shared the dessert and were bursting at the seams. I really would not be able to do a starter, main and dessert all to myself. It also isn’t the kind of restaurant where one goes just on the off hand of enjoying a good 2 star meal. It’s a restaurant for an occasion. But the service is exquisite, the food a complex whirlpool of flavours and the experience, a lingering satisfaction.