If Instagram is anything to go by (which it often is), you’d think that Sketch is a pink-paletted haven that serves up sumptuous morsels to London’s tastemakers and has David Shrigley drawings pasted across its walls. Indeed, your assumption would be correct; however, the Sketch that is often portrayed on social media is billed ‘The Gallery’; what is widely unknown by the masses is that there’s also an eatery that’s situated directly above it, one that was conceived by kitchen modernist Pierre Gagnaire and also boasts two Michelin stars. The restaurant in question is Sketch, The Lecture Room and Library.
Born as the more formal offering in Sketch, The Lecture Room and Library is a type of culinary Narnia located in Mayfair – upon entering through the doors of this 18th century building, guests are greeted in a dark and Berlin-esque corridor, met by eclectically-dressed staff (including one in a nurse’s outfit) and led up stairs which are dripping with fake blood. The ambience is nothing how you’d imagine a double-starred restaurant to be – that is until your host stops you, throws open an entrance and reveals a grand and airy room complete with opulent décor, thick red carpet, well-spaced tables, high-quality white linen and a gargantuan Christmas tree centrepiece.
It’s elegant, it’s palatial and it’s a gastronomic jewel in London’s already-gleaming crown.
The ambience is…
Typical of a Michelin star eatery. It’s not rowdy, there’s ample room between tables and there’s an ambience that makes it feel as though you’re dining at a members-only club. The service? Slicker than a Rolex chronometer.
“Caviar” – three forkfuls of bijou-sized tagliolini are topped with Russian Oscietra caviar and slightly acidic caviar cream. Incredibly moreish, cooked with the right balance of richness and boiled to the ideal degree of bite, this sets the tone perfectly for the rest of the evening.
“Sea bass” – first poached then grilled, the line-caught sea bass is then placed on top of a bed of parmesan, ginger, almond powder, champagne cream and pine nuts. The fish is smoky yet sweet, juicy and flaky and thanks to the almond powder and pine nuts, there’s a true texture sensation infused within the dish. A true standout that evokes a real wonder-moment of happiness.
“Foie gras and oyster” – pan-fried duck foie gras should never pair well with a ostra regal oyster; yet, at the Lecture Room and Library, it does. Both elements riff off each other beautifully as a mouthful of fatty and rich foie paves the way for a fresh and plump burst of oyster goodness. Innovative and unconventional, a dish to definitely try while dining here.
“Grouse” – this offering comes as a welcome treat on a cold winter eve. The welsh grouse is marinated with juniper and black Sarawak pepper and is accompanied on the plate by root vegetables, quince paste, black fruits in a beetroot infusion and an elderflower ice cube. The meat is lean, the veg tastes homely and the paste adds a sweet dynamic to savoury, warming dish.
“Pierre Gagnaire’s Grand Dessert” – a flurry of six desserts arrive at the table in two services; there are chocolately delights, bitter bites, refreshing strips of sweet fruit and candy-flavoured palette cleaners.
Here, guests are asked to “dress with a sense of style and character.” Although we’d suggest refraining from ruffs and et al., we would, however, encourage you to opt for a bold paisley Ted Baker shirt alongside a pair of muted sneakers to help balance everything out.
Visit Sketch Lecture Room and Library at 9 Conduit St, Mayfair, London W1S 2XG
Need somewhere else to go in London? Check out our latest review of Angler