9 Conduit Street, London, 020 7659 4500
Sketch revels in its uniqueness. In a building which used to house the Institute of Architects, Turner Prize-winning artist Martin Creed has used a dazzling range of colour and shape to create four distinct venues, each with their own brilliant flourishes.
On arrival, we felt we were being subsumed into this huge art work: the lack of a greeter to help us navigate towards our table is one area where Sketch forgot itself a little too much. The five-minute wait as we wondered where to go was not all bad, however: it gave us the opportunity to look around the many pieces of interesting artwork and sculptures on show.
Eventually we were led upstairs to the lecture room and library, now used as the main dining room. On opening the doors, we both looked at each other and said: “Wow!” The room is absolutely stunning: vivid colour and jagged lines intersect across furniture and fabric, bringing to mind lightning and fire. The patterns are vaguely art deco, and the room has the feel of a decadent hotel lobby from days gone by. It’s hard to do it justice with words alone, but the picture gives some sense of the place.
And so on to the main event: the food. In these times of austerity, we went for the ‘Gourmet Rapid’ three-course lunch menu, which came with half a bottle of wine at £53 per head.
The food was simply divine, from the amuse-bouche to the three mini-desserts that my wife had, and the 11 cheeses that I wolfed down (it was my birthday, after all). Every dish was beautifully presented, tasty, and with interesting combinations of flavours and ingredients that were without fault. With ample portion sizes, there was also no need to visit the golden arches afterwards.
After the initial stumble, service was superb. While at most Michellin-starred restaurants the staff look and talk down to you, going out of their way to make you very uncomfortable, staff here were friendly, knowledgeable, attentive and professional.
It would be amiss of me not to mention the toilets. It’s hard to imagine a better toilet than those at Sketch. Floor-to-ceiling black mirrored tiles with blue neon flowers and spider webs, not to mention the half-hundredweight of Swarovsky crystal dropping off every surface: truly amazing.
If you can find better toilets and would like to review them in a future issue, send 450 words and a colour photo to the editor firstname.lastname@example.org. He’ll definitely thank you for it.
Overall, we were very impressed with Sketch, from the outstanding venue to the knock-out food. If you’re not a foodie, I would still recommend Sketch as great place to go for a cocktail or two; it’s a truly beautifully space to spend an hour or so.
By Paul Welch