The whole experience was so over the top and wonderful; but Sketch touched me.
If I were to look back it would be dining there which really fuelled my love of food, wine and eating out. Never before had I experienced high-end food, served with incredible quality wine (I remember it was a £200 bottle of wine and I vowed I would remember it forever! Needless to say I now cannot for the life of me remember what it was!) and served in a manner which made you feel like you were the most important person in the room.
And what a room...Sketch is known for re-designing it's Gallery restaurant regularly and when I first went they were projecting the Paris skyline at night onto the walls, and rotating it as if you were seated in a spinning restaurant on top of the Eiffel Tower. It was magical.
This week (too many) years on, we decided it was about time I took Ian to the place I always rave about; and now we're actually earning money (and with the help of their handy £50 off your bill voucher) heading back without the financial backing of a parent or guardian is now possible.
We started off in the Parlour bar (I was late so Ian waited for me there) before hop-scotching our way down to the Gallery. Walking in we were met by the wonderful maître d' and his fabulous over-the-top french greeting before being shown to our table.
The Gallery is currently designed by David Shrigley and the pink walls and soft velvet 60s/70s style furnishings make you feel like you've just stepped into a warm glowing marshmallow; in a good way!
The walls are covered in clean, modern art; 239 new works to be precise, forming the largest group of original drawings he has ever exhibited.
Everything about the place; from the décor to the salt cellar is on the playful side, while the food? Well that's classically French.
We decided to go classic with the highly recommended Duck à l'orange for two, which is presented to you whole on a wooden board (I suppose so you are under no illusions that it is a duck?) before being carved into two servings.
The first serving was the breast with a sharp red cabbage and blackcurrant jam underneath. The meat was slightly over-cooked for our liking, but it still melted in the mouth; we were very happy we were getting a second go at it!
The second serving was the thigh, which had had the bone removed and the skin crisped up. That was served with beautifully sweet peppers on top.
Needless to say; the richer meat of the leg was the winner, and it was clean plates all round! We had the thigh with a side of steamed veg; which I would recommend. Although you are getting two portions for the price of one, the sauces are rich, and having sides, especially of vegetables, cuts through the thickness of the meat.
Dessert could not be missed, and I went for 'Success'- a praliney, hazelnutty plate of joy with a very boozy whisky caramel ice cream!
Ian went for 'La Rochelle' which I thought was going to be a bit boring; 3 seasonal sorbets, fresh fruit and shortbread. Well never have I been so wrong! Just look at this beauty.
Those sticks are meringue mikado and are a revelation; and the three sorbets together tasted like those refresher sweets you used to get as a kid...amazing.
They even made us feel good about ourselves when we paid the bill (and there was no awkward ' oh we have this voucher, we're cheapskates' conversation - it was all taken care of).
Now no trip to Sketch is complete without a trip to the toilets; probably the most talk-about toilets in all of London! As you ascend the white sweeping staircase onto a mezzanine you are faced with a forest of shiny white pods. Each cubicle is shaped like a giant egg, and sitting bizarrely beneath a loud quacking duck. No, I'm not sure why either...but after a cocktail and a few glasses of wine it does get a bit trippy.
All the crockery is also available to buy, so if you like the bottom of your tea cup telling you to 'Forget About It' you can take one home for yourself.
The stuff is beautiful...if a little out of my price range.
I was so pleased to have gone back to the place which kick-started my love of food; and wasn't disappointed in the slightest. Of course it helps to have a bit of a discount, but this is the sort of place which needs to stay as a treat if you ask me; it helps you keep perspective on just how good food can be!