Sketch is an odd collection of reoslutely different spaces and concepts. The Lecture room & Library offer a light version of Pierre Gagnaire’s cooking, the Gallery is not only contemporary art gallery, but also restaurant and club at the same time. The Parlour is the perfect spot for an excellent breakfast, afternoon tea or drink later during the day. All of the different rooms share one common characteristic: Crazy, over-the-top, refreshingly outrageous design. I know that many hate it, but I love those “egg” toilets, the little touches here and there and the fact that the place is indeed a sketch, that constantly evolves.
Today, I wasn’t going to dine in the starred restaurant, where I first met Pierre Gagnaire, but rather, I was having a quintessentially British ritual: Afternoon tea. I must admit that, it is a bizarre idea to go to a French 3* chef’s patisserie for tea, but after having sampled a variety of their little pastries, viennoiseries and breakfast creations, I must say, that they definitely know, what they’re doing. The pastries are easily the best in London, and are always interesting. I remember one particularly delightful pineapple/rum creation, which was simply exquisite. The croissants and lemon bichons are certainly as good as anything I have tasted in Paris (maybe not quite at Herme’s level) and are surprisingly fairly priced.
For tea, one has the choice of three different “menus”: One at £9.50, one at £24.50 (which we took) and a Champagne tea at £35.
The savoury part of the afternoon consisted of egg, cucumber, salmon and crème fraiche and ham and mustard sandwiches, which were all enjoyable. The best were the salmon and mustard, with the cucumber being the most boring. All in all these were all very fine, without being particularly impressive. After this, I had some scones with clotted cream and raspberry marmalade. The scones were very good. Much better than I had expected and better than any I have tasted before. The only letdown was the pastry section. Not that the pastries were bad, they were very good for most, but I had hoped for a selection of their signature pastries and not some boring light version of what they do. The best were a violet éclair, a tarte with berries and a chocolate creation. The rest was rather forgettable, especially the little pineapple sticks and the gingerbread cylinder. The latter didn’t have any reason to be amongst all of this and was quite irritating. It was spiced too heavily and too heavy in terms of texture.
Coffee (yes, I had coffee for my “tea”) was very good. I find £8 for a pot of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee a little excessive for a place like here, but if you take either tea menu, you can choose any coffee you desire.
Overall, the Parlour has some truly terrific pastry and viennoiseries: The lemon bichons, croissants and other cakes are outstanding. The afternoon tea did seem a little stingy. After all, £25 will buy you a menu in some 2* restaurants, which is a little more satisfying than a few cakes. Also, these were hardly more than the petit fours served in some restaurants. This being said, the quality is pretty high, especially some of their sweet miniatures.
I must say, that I wouldn’t take this “menu” anymore, rather, I’d take a selection of pastries and order some tea with it. You feel ripped off in a way, as it seems a little stingy in terms of portions.