Those of you who know me will know that I bloody love a good afternoon tea. And usually my Afternoon Tea of choice would be the ‘Fashionista’s Pret A Portea’ served in the Caramel Room of the Berkeley Hotel in Knightsbridge, but when it came to celebrating my mum’s colleague (and my ASOS shopping addict soul sister) Chloe’s 21st Birthday, it was thought that we should try somewhere a bit different, and that is what lead me to visiting two Michelin-starred Mayfair restaurant, Sketch.
About two years ago, I was offered a job at Sketch, which sadly I had to turn down. When interviewing for the role, I was asked what I knew about Sketch. Aside from its Michelin stars, and the occasional scenes filmed there for Made in Chelsea, I must admit I didn’t know much, but I did know that the toilets are regarded as the best in London. What a claim to fame! Maybe that shouldn’t have been one of the facts I lead with, but the thing is, the toilets here really are something quite extraordinary.
Unlike normal cubicles, each porcelain throne can be found within a giant white egg; a giant white egg that talks to you. It feels as though at any moment, while you have your knickers around your ankles, you might suddenly be launched into space. It’s other-worldly. Opinion on the experience was divided by our table. Some enjoyed the quirkiness, while others longed for the normality of a bog-standard (haha) loo. But love it or hate it, there’s no denying it’s a conversation topic that can be enjoyed whilst you sip your tea.
Enough with the toilet chat, now back to the restaurant.
Sketch has many rooms with many different designs, all as striking as the last. It would be wrong for the toilets to be the most exciting part of the decor, after all. There is The Parlour, The Glade, The Lecture Room, The East Bar and last by certainly by no means least, The Gallery, in which out afternoon tea was served.
I’d probably be on the money if I were to say that this exciting, versatile restaurant is among the most Instagram’d venues in London due to its stunning, mouth dropping and awe inspiring interior design. Each room has its own unique look and feel. Even the entrance to Sketch is enchanting and unique. It’s a world a million miles from London, that happens to be in its very centre.
To enter into The Gallery, you must first feast your eyes on The Glade – a room that makes you feel like you’ve fallen down a rabbit hole into a fairy tale land.
Artists Carolyn Quartermaine and Didier Mahieu, have created an enchanted fairy-tale forest. For The Glade at sketch, they have created a découpage forest which appears like something half-remembered and yet completely contemporary. Taking inspiration from early c20th stationery, they re-painted, enlarged and reversed the design, printing it onto hundreds of metres of paper. Each piece is handcut, and découpaged to the walls. In this forest, delicate 50s rattan furniture, from the South of France, creates a startlingly modern fairy-tale romance.
This room also serves Afternoon Tea, though with a more informal atmosphere. It is also the perfect spot for evening cocktails. The colours are beautiful, the detail exquisite and the atmosphere enchanting.
But if you think this room is breath taking, you haven’t seen anything yet.
The Gallery is a room like no other. Like a bubble gum world, the large room that can surely host over 200 covers, and is princess pink – the walls, the ceilings, the luxurious velvet chairs – it’s a striking pink playground that is so over-the-top it’s mesmerising.
The art work lining the wall is by celebrated British artist, David Shrigley, who has transformed the Gallery at sketch as part of a long-term programme of artist-conceived restaurants. There are 239 new works which line the restaurant’s walls, forming the largest group of original drawings David Shrigley has ever exhibited.
I defy you to not find yourself constantly distracted by these pictures. Each one unique, each one fascinating. When you think you’ve seen all of them in-front of you, you’ll suddenly find one you missed that will make you chuckle.
And as well as the wall decor, David is responsible for the crockery too.
But the crockery is nothing if it’s not holding food, and much like everything else in this breath-taking venue, the food is divine!
The afternoon tea will set you back £39 per person, with an additional £5 for a sparkling grape juice (for those avoiding alcohol as I was at the time) and an extra £12 for a glass of Pommery Brut champagne. The bubbly stuff is served in the traditional champagne glasses – you know, the ones modelled on the boobies of Marie Antoinette, or more recently, Kate Moss! I don’t know about you, but I always feel fizzy plonk tastes better form these elegant glasses, especially after you’ve watched it poured by the waiter at a dizzy height above your head.
The afternoon tea is an all-you-can-eat kinda thing. They will keep replenishing your three tiered tea until you pop and say stop, of your two and a half hour table time comes to an end. The former is likely to come first!
From what I can gather, the sweet delights menu changes some elements semi-regularly, but the gorgeous finger sandwiches remain at a constant delight! The assortment of finger sandwiches includes smoked salmon and Jacob’s cream, cucumber and ricotta, mozzarella and pesto, panini egg and mayonnaise with quail egg and caviar. Each of these unique pretty little sarnies are beautiful but dangerously light, so it’s not until your server asks if you’re *sure* you want another serving that you realise you’ve already eaten four plates of the things, and there’s still cakes to go!
When it comes to the gorgeous cakes, the staple treats include macaroons, a pot of mouth watering mousse, home-made meringue, marshmallows, choux pastry buns and chocolate cake. On my visit, the choux buns were filled with something a bit boozy and the gorgeous pot of mousse a-top of the tower was citrus and tangy.
As if the delicate cakes weren’t enough for you, you also get to devour a freshly baked, warm out of the oven scone with a HUGE spread of clotted cream and a generous splodge of strawberry or fig jam. I went for the fig, and had to ask for a second serving as I practically spooned it into my mouth!
I completely adore scones, and come the summer they become part of my staple diet (and my waist line!) Naturally the great scone debate ensued – cream or jam first! For the correct answer, please see the below photo.
If you love tea, you’re in luck as you are spoilt for choice with the refreshing selection they have on offer. I opted for a pot of the Earl Grey Supreme and absolutely loved what was waiting for me at the bottom of the china cup when I finished.
Like with the cakes and sandwiches, you can have as many pots as you like. At one point, we asked for another pot and had to remind our server 20 minutes later when it still hadn’t arrived. Not a big deal at all, and definitely not something to complain about (the staff had been polite, friendly and efficient the whole afternoon) but when our bill arrived, they had removed the service charge as an apology for the small fault and they even gave us a box of delicious macaroons as a further apology! That is just above and beyond what we would have expected. Superb, Sketch!
I adored every element of this afternoon tea. For a girls celebration of any kind, or even just as a way to treat yourself, I would say it is certainly worth a hop, skip and a jump into this magical bubble gum world.To book yourself a table, just visit their website here and prepare yourself for an indulgent afternoon!