sketch Lecture Room
The two Michelin-starred Lecture Room & Library at sketch is surely one of the most unique and eclectic restaurants in London. A gourmet retreat in the original House of Dior venue, sketch Lecture Room comes from the stables of world-renowned Pierre Gagnaire, and holds a show-stopping 5 AA Rosettes and 2 Michelin stars. Everyone should experience the brilliant artistic eccentricity that sketch embodies, with every nook, cranny and crystal-encrusted corner bringing a new surprise. The ‘unveiling’ moment where the grand Lecture Room doors theatrically swing back reveals a spectacular sight aflame with technicolour ruby reds and burnished amber. You have to see it to believe it, but think gloriously beautiful Art Deco design meets eccentric mad-hatter fashion guru. Surprisingly, the gourmet rapide lunch at sketch is a snip at two courses for £35, or three for £40, with amuses bouches, coffee and petits fours. If you like to graze and nibble, sketch is made for you, with a selection of picture-perfect small dishes presented for each starter and dessert course.
Nibble-sized beautiful canapés and dishes ensued after we were seated, and kicking things off, a salmon caviar creation with poppy seeds came in a mini espresso-sized package. The amuses bouches were as quirky as the surroundings, with concoctions like white martini jelly cubes and the like. The white chocolate disc melted instantly in to the punchy horseradish emulsion, while the tuna and sesame nibbles had a wash of wasabi at the end.
Fennel-spiked and earthy-coarse, the venison terrine had a gamey flavour, enhanced by a drizzle of rich hazelnut oil. When it came to wine, we were matched with a Weisser Burgunder to start, a pure pinot blanc with vanilla-tinged crispness.
Foie gras and beetroot
A slither of toast with foie gras came accompanied by a beetroot jelly infused with mostarda di cremona. Some rustic date and walnut bread with tangy lime butter alongside made a surprisingly good partner.
Nibbly parmesan nuggets were baked as light as a feather and were comfortingly warm. Moreishly good, these didn’t last too long.
Butternut squash veloute
Topped with fragrant fennel ice cream, the butternut squash velouté came with fine orzo pasta for a comforting, melding mixture of wintry ingredients. The ice cream had a cooling aniseed hit and melted into the rich, warming butternut.
Beautifully poached and opalescent white, the cod demi-sel was topped with shredded nori seaweed, and the result made for yieldingly light and tender cod.
The veal blanquette was creamy and rich yet had a citrusy tang from the pink grapefruit-infused basmati rice pilaf. With baby onions and button mushrooms, it felt like a contemporary reinterpretation of a beef bourguignon.
Pierre worked his artistry again in the desserts with a trio of wonderful sweet concoctions. The chocolate and clementine parfait was a poshed-up Terry’s chocolate orange with a difference. Zingy bergamot added subtle citrus, as well as red pepper and zesty grapefruit.
Kumquat granita was a quenching zesty accompaniment to the dark velvetiness of the rich chocolate pavé. Another dish with lychee and pineapple provided balance, with a sugary disc and pina colada tropical flavours.
sketch petits fours
Petits fours included rose-tinged Turkish delight, chocolate kirsch ganache truffles and a frangipane macaroon-like biscuit.
Afterwards, we also met Pierre Gagnaire, the masterchef behind the extraordinary Lecture Room cuisine. If you’re curious after dinner, you should take a wander around the labyrinthine space and explore the eccentric art installations. Out-of-this-world lavatories are one of the quirkier creative selling points that sketch possesses, and if you’re not in a giant galactic space egg loo surrounded by Victorian maids and frog-mating sounds, you’ll find yourself in a Lacroix-inspired fairground-esque washroom. Holding a Michelin star since 2005, sketch boasts both gastro-flair and uber-cool cutting-edge design: if you’re intrigued you should check it out on a gourmet lunch visit with a difference.
sketch Lecture Room
9 Conduit Street, London, W1S 2XG