It’s December 2002. Girls Aloud are #1 with The Sound Of The Underground, Pierce Brosnan has retired as Bond, and Victoria Beckham has just taken a leak in a giant Clarence Court egg in Mayfair’s hottest new restaurant. No, this isn’t the story of where she placed her final horcrux. This is the story of the Gallery at Sketch, one of London’s most wildly popular and entirely pointless attractions.
Less a restaurant and more an experiment in vanity, Sketch invented the Instagram restaurant before Instagram invented itself. Much of the Gallery in this townhouse—from the art-lined walls, to the lurid velvet furniture—is designed to be pictured and pouted at. Go on. Do it. Because if there’s one thing Sketch’s popularity has proven, it’s that we really do eat with our eyes. Delicious rose gold lamps. Heavenly multi-coloured lights. Fantastic quirky crockery. Anything, as long as it isn’t from the menu.
The food at Sketch is like that weird kid at school. Not the one who was quiet, kooky, and warmed up with attention. But the one who moulded cityscapes out of their bogies. Before forcing them in your mouth and taking all your money. Food isn’t really what Sketch is famous for, though. The most famous thing about this restaurant is its toilets. Which is like having a puppy that makes everyone depressed. That said, these egg-shaped portaloos are well known for good reason. For the selfies, and also for London’s most memorably expensive on-the-bog Twitter scrolls. But eventually you’ll have to leave this whitewashed, Diptyque-scented, free-range room. And that means you’ll have to go back to your food.
Anyone who comes here shouldn’t be shocked by their meal. Not by the random sugar tuile and icing sugar on their porcini tart, or by the magnificent tower of undercooked onion rings. This is a superficial restaurant, so it’s no surprise the food doesn’t stand up. Yes it’s aesthetically pleasing. Or at the very least, different. But look a little closer, chew a little longer, be upsold a little higher, and you’ll realise that there’s nothing attractive about an overpriced and inedible meal.
Chef Don’s Porcini Tart
Don’t do it. Just don’t. A tart in the sweetest meaning of the word. We’re not sure what icing sugar is doing on top. Nor the perfect (but completely unwelcome) sugar tuile. Weird, at best.
Soufflé With Colman’s Mustard
Although edible, this soufflé on soggy leeks has a sad personality. It smells of heat lamp and abandonment. As for the English mustard sauce, well, there’s plenty of it. Plenty of skin on it too.
Black Celeriac Tagliatelle With Squid Ink And Toast
Shocking. The kind of thing you see in a Japanese horror film that’s recorded on videotape. Imagine a baby squid having a green foam bubble bath. That’s what this looks like.
Sketch Tartare With Bloody Mary
More of a cheese tartare then a steak one. The little chunks of cheddar completely overpower what could have been a nice tartare. There looks to be chunky cut beef and tuna, not that you can taste any of it. Oh, and it comes with a shot of bloody mary.
Lobster Fricassée With Sweetcorn Velouté And Popcorn
Sweet like chocolate, but unfortunately it doesn’t bring us so much joy. The lobster is nicely cooked but the combination of sweetcorn velouté and popcorn would have Willy Wonka wincing.
Venison With Grapes, Redcurrant Jelly, And Sweet Potato Croquettes With Almonds
Again, what is going on here? Venison saddle: classic, nicely cooked. Grapes: makes sense. Redcurrant jelly: sweet, but alright. Sweet potato croquettes: really sweet, and stodgy. Almonds: what? Imagine Judi Dench in a M. Night Shyamalan film. It just doesn’t make any sense does it? That’s this plate of food.
Millefeuille With Fig And Red Wine Sorbet
Sod’s law, isn’t it. You go an entire meal eating sweet-tasting savoury food and then you get a dessert that’s got a very bitter Blossom Hill sorbet on the side. No thank you.
Panna Cotta With Ice Cream And Marshmallow
Tooth-achingly sweet but really quite lovely. This tastes like a great big sweet shop medley. It’s got sherbert, softness, and is thankfully sweet in all the right places.
Sketch Chocolate Parfait
This is rich and perfectly decent. Especially if you’re into very chocolate-y chocolate.