You don’t always start a blog post with a lead image of a bathroom. But at Sketch, you can kind of get away with it.
There are several parts to the restaurant – the Gallery is probably what most people think of when they thing of sketch – but there are also bar/brasserie sections (i.e. the Parlour, Glade and East Bar) and the Lecture, which is Sketch’s two Michelin starred gastronomic restaurant.
The Gallery at Sketch is a place I have been wanting to go for a while and finally made it here for my birthday. It’s a very quirky restaurant in Mayfair notorious for its alien-like pod-shaped bathrooms and its overall Alice in Wonderland vibe.
Getting a reservation is easy and you can even book online. Book in advance. Note that you will have to provide a credit/debit card to hold the table and there is a cancellation fee although you won’t be charged anything at the time you make the booking. Give yourself a few weeks ahead if you go for Afternoon Tea or Dinner in the gallery.
First impressions are always key for me and the first impressions of Sketch were very good. We were greeted at the door, welcomed by several members of staff and given clear directions to the gallery. The decor was a little dark as we walked in but it was still quirky and impressive. We dropped our coats off and headed for the gallery, it was every bit as magical and pink as the photos I’d seen online. We were greeted with the warmest of smiles before being shown to our table by the friendly hostess. At 7.30 pm the restaurant was quite full. We were greeted and introduced to our waiters for the evening, each one offering their help with the food and drink choices.
Nothing can really make this building bad, with its glass domes, crazy toilet pods & three grand dining rooms. Opulent, airy, old fashioned and new all at once, the architecture of the Gallery sang from behind the “critically acclaimed” David Shrigley takeover, with the way his sketches wallpapered the entire restaurant created a pretty unique ambiance. The salt & pepper pots were cool. The Sketch Gallery dining room (the famous one, normally decked out in a riot of bright rainbow colors) had taken on a fifties gangster/Enchantment Under the Sea Dance classic feel, with a grand bar and traditional furniture. There’s a hidden contemporary bar under the uber-modern bathrooms, which are weirdly a destination (not because of the food!) with modern pods, disco colors on the walls and a feeling that Buck Rodgers is somewhere nearby. A complete mish-mash of styles, but it works. My main gripe was that if this was the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance, then I think the waiting staff was locked with Marty in the boot. I know, Sketch, it’s Biff Tannen’s fault.
This is what we ordered:
- Selection of French & British Cheese with their condiments
- Brown home- baked Marguerite bread with butter
- Parmesan risotto, limoncello, roasted apricot
- Udon noodles, bouillon, garlic, seasoned paste, tofu, pearl onions, Paris mushrooms
- French Fries (Side order)
- Saint – Rémy de Provence – Dacquoise cake, lavender honey ice cream, lemon and star anise water
The menu is as eclectic as the design of the restaurant, with a selection of meat, fish, and pasta, there really is something for everyone. The food is presented in a beautiful yet meticulous manner. The Gallery does not serve meals, it serves edible works of art.
We began the evening with cocktails, I chose the Old Cuban – after much indecisiveness and some help from the waiter. The Old Cuban was an earlier mix of our modern day mojito. It was delicious. I was as equally bad at making a decision with the food and again asked the waiter for help. There are a lot of vegetarian options at Sketch and I’m told there was also one vegan option on the menu for any vegans who want to experience Sketch Gallery. The risotto, which was very cheesy and cooked well. (Yum Yum). My friend opted for Udon noodles.
When booking the table we were informed that the table would only for 2 hours and we would need to vacate the table at 9.30 pm. However, we were never reminded or asked to leave despite staying until 10 pm. The food and drink service was fast and professional. The waiters were very attentive, filling up your water constantly and always there when you wanted something. The customers were certainly the priority of every member of staff. I absolutely loved my experience here. It was fancy yet quirky and laid back at the same time. This meant I didn’t feel uncomfortable which has happened before in extremely fancy places. I thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of the night and it was the little things that helped to make the evening what it was. I found Sketch to be full of surprises and even after a night there the place still felt like a maze of excitement with more left to explore. Overall Sketch is a fantastic experience. The place is made up of several rooms so if you like what you see here, make sure you book the Gallery. It’s pricey, weighing in at about £50 per head for dinner, dessert, and a drink so definitely either for special occasions or, if you’ve just got it like that, for whenever.
It was an expensive treat and not somewhere I could afford to eat regularly but for a birthday treat this fun yet the fancy restaurant was the perfect place. Often something quirky and different helps you to see the city in a new and interesting light.
I would definitely return. There is a wide variety of drinks and food options so although my choices were great, I’d have to choose something else.
Now I cannot talk about Sketch without mentioning the toilets, they are an experience of its own. The restaurant plays host to a collection of large white eggs, contained within a room that is accessed by a split curved staircase. Reflecting the colors of the stained glass ceiling, the eggs contain individual toilet cubicles, each with their own individual music and sound, creating a truly unforgettable and quite amusing experience. It is impressive to realize that the toilets alone attract visitors from across the globe (That’s what I have been told). Every design and experience had been carefully thought out and planned from the moment to enter the restaurant to the second you leave.
Must Know Information:
Address: 9 Conduit Street, London W1S 2XG
The sketch is located near to the Oxford Circus tube station. (4 mins walk )
Expect to pay between £20-£40 for the main course with cocktails starting from £13.50. Please note a 12% service charge is automatically added to your bill and you have a minimum spend for the table.
You can find more about Sketch on their website.