Afternoon tea is genuinely one of my favourite ways to spend an afternoon. What better (and more British) way to pass a few hours than eating mini cucumber sandwiches and dainty pastries whilst sipping on a cup of Rosie Lee’s finest? So, when my best friend from Melbourne came to visit and told me her trip to London wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Sketch she didn’t need to ask me twice.
Located in a cute 18th-century townhouse on Conduit Street in Mayfair, Sketch is full of surprises. We were lead through the vast hallway, past ‘the Glade’ (a woodland bar which gives you the magical feeling of being in some kind of enchanted forest) and into ‘the Gallery’. The room, decorated almost all in pink with seating that both looks and feels like you’re sinking into a marshmallow, definitely wins the prize for the quirkiest place I’ve ever had the pleasure of having afternoon tea. You only have to take a trip to the little girl’s room to understand that Sketch really is David Shrigley’s baby – a cross between a piece of art and a culinary masterpiece.
The service is second to none – we were greeted by our waitress who offered us a choice between 15 different teas including Assam, Darjeeling, Earl Grey, a white tea named Silver Needle, Oolong, as well as herbal infusions and green teas. Needless to say, we were spoilt for choice. I opted for the vanilla tea, which was brewed to perfection.
We were then served a selection of finger sandwiches including a warm mozarella and pesto panini, coronation chicken, smoked salmon and tarragon cream and my personal favourite, egg and mayonnaise which was topped with what looked to be a tiny fried egg – it was a quail’s egg. It was delicious and the fact they had gone to that much trouble to add that little touch to such a tiny sandwich, made it something really different and special.
Our course of petit gateauxs included a blueberry and liquorice tart, battenburg cake, a white peach and lemon verbena cheesecake and an apricot and pistachio gateau, amongst others. But the best part (of any afternoon tea) was the sultana scone, served with both strawberry and fig jams (and clotted cream, of course). The scones were served warm and were so fluffy and light they almost fell apart in your mouth.
The last course (thank god, as we were stuffed by this point!) was a choice of either a poppy and redcurrant choux or a raspberry, chocolate and hibiscus flower cake. We chose one each and shared, but weren’t able to finish them both despite how delicious they were. The chocolate cake was a chocolate lover’s heaven – sweet and light at the same time, whilst the pastry of the choux was first class, accompanied by the delicious raspberry cream.
Throughout our time at the restaurant the waiters and waitesses couldn’t do enough for us, however they do stick to the strict 2 hour window for which you’ve booked the table. Obviously, eating here is never going to be cheap and we paid £55 each for afternoon tea without champagne (including service charge etc). This isn’t somewhere you’d go every other week, but is perfect for a special occassion. The food, as you would expect for that price, was faultless and you can eat as much of it as your stomach can handle. However, it wasn’t purely that, that made this such a great experience for my friend and I – the unusual decor with all its fun little quirks, which are the topic of curious conversation throughout, are what transforms Sketch from just another London afternoon tea to something truly special.
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