Occasionally Sketch runs £50-off voucher deals through their Facebook page. The first time I took advantage was at the uber-posh Lecture Room and Library. The entire experience was surreal. The meal was fantastic, but I found that you really pay for the experience of it all. The weird pod toilets, the ‘tour’, the service – it’s all pretty impressive. Going back, I sort of knew what to expect, and maybe that’s why it didn’t seem as great the second time around – even with my trusty £50 voucher.
This time I ate at the Gallery, Sketch’s first-floor ‘bistro’, also known as the-cheap-bit-for-customers-who-want-to-say-they’ve-dined-at-Sketch-but-don’t-want-to-fork-over-a-few-hundred-pounds.
Walking in to the building, you’re stopped by a surly looking doorman in a top hat demanding to know what it is you’re doing there. (Ok, that’s a slight exaggeration, but I can’t say he made me feel very welcome.)
My friend Dom and I sit down and wait about 10 minutes before someone comes over to the table. We’re in no rush, but I do notice that they’re not very busy at all. Our server arrives to take our orders. We weren’t quite ready for food yet, so I try to order a glass of wine, but am promptly told that the sommelier will be over shortly, and instead would we like to order starters? Again, not ready, so we order with some bread first.
The bread is fresh and warm – a nice variety of kinds too. And it’s served in a Lego box. Sketch is clever like that.
After still no sign of the sommelier to order wine, we go for our starters. I have Parsnip Velouté and Dom goes for the ‘Chantilly Lace‘. Luckily the sommelier arrives quickly after the order, and my confidence is restored. That is, until my soup arrives:
The Parsnip Velouté is a soup of parsnip, sake, Japanese pumpkin, chestnut cream. It tastes like lukewarm vegetable water with a side of plasticised jelly. I hate it.
Dom’s Chantilly Lace is a fancy name for Lobster Bisque with basmati rice and horseradish cream:
As what usually happens to me, I like the other person’s starter better than mine. The bisque is warm and comforting. Not too buttery – it’s rich enough to make you know you’re being naughty, but not overly so that you can feel your arteries clogging. The horseradish is a nice touch.
Dom tried my soup, and actually liked it – even traded dishes with me, bless him.
For my main I went with Norwegian Cod:
Slow-roasted cod, onions with Grappa and fresh thyme, potato gnocchi with squid ink, tomatoes with sea water and lemon olive oil.
There was a lot to this dish, and not all of it went together. The fish was cooked fine, but it lacked dimension . The gnocchi was delicious, but the tomatoes were far too tart, and the lemon just put everything over the top. It tasted like the kind of thing that someone would make on MasterChef only to have Gregg Wallace say ‘You have talent, but you just don’t know when to stop adding ingredients!’ And seriously – what is with the one piece of gnocchi sitting on the rim of the plate?! Why?!
Dom went for the Black Pudding:
The menu reads: Braised pork cheek, apple and pear marmalade with cinnamon, mesclun salad with Ossau Iraty cheese, French salami, bacon and lardo di Colonnata.
I’d love to tell you more about it, but Dom scarfed it up so quickly, I didn’t get a bite. He said it was amazing, so you’ll have to take his word on it.
The bill for bread, water, two starters, two mains and two glasses of wine was a little over £100, but as I said we used our £50 voucher. Still not sure it was even worth it.
It’s official though: I’ve taken the entire gastro-tour of Sketch. I’m glad I did – and if you’ve never gone, you should at least see the space – but I probably won’t be returning any time soon.