Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A trip to the library

'To say it is expensive is a little like saying Dolly Parton is quite a big girl' Jay Rayner, The Observer.

'This is generally the sort of food I would run naked to avoid. But on the plate, some of it was innovatively, ululatingly sublime... a bewildering variety of dishes that looked both supremely elegant and as if someone had wiped their bottom on them' A.A. Gill.

Last night I dined out in sumptuous style with clients at Sketch's grand Lecture Room & Library in Mayfair. Sketch spans several floors of a grade-II listed 18th century townhouse. It encompasses breakfast and lunch rooms, patisseries, bars, brasseries and fine dining rooms, each with its own personality. The Library was elegant and comfortable with velvet-plush, jewel-coloured armchairs, deep-pile rugs, white linen tables, large Georgian-style windows and an ornate domed ceiling. The service was impeccable with wait staff rushing to pull back your chair every time you left for or returned from the glass and crystal encrusted toilets. Each toilet cubicle resembled a musical box, complete with toilet rolls suspended from Swarowski crystal chains and piped in music.

Our meal was a rollercoaster ride of seven courses from the tasting menu that left us stuffed by the end of the night. I can't remember all the delicious morsels that kept appearing under our noses so I've had to remind myself by going to the Sketch website, reminding me that along with our Chablis, Bellinis and beer, we ate:

Rabbit Rillette with Aubergine, consisting of
  • Glazed Eel, Grilled Courgette, Chorizo and Bouchot Mussels
  • Beef Consommé, Rabbit and Cumbawa Leaf Rillette
  • Diced Red Tuna, Braised Aubergine and Grapes
Lobster, consisting of
  • Lobster Cooked in Coriander Butter, Steamed broccoli and Cauliflower
  • Mâcon with Lobster Jus
Octopus and Cod, consisting of
  • Slow-Cooked Cod with Hollandaise sauce, Braised Octopus
  • Diced Potatoes and Lemon Jam
Duck, consisting of
  • Thin Slices of Roasted Duck with Spiced Peach Marmalade
  • Braised Mouli Radish, Chervil and Parmesan Broth with Potato Leaves
Cheese and Foie-Gras, consisting of
  • Goats Cheese with Paprika, Millésime Comté, Thin Slices of Toasted Bread with Nuts
  • Chantilly of Foie-Gras and Baby Gem Salad
Pierre Gagnaire’s Grand Dessert, consisting of a flurry of chocolatey and fruity delights.

Petits Fours.

A sublime evening, but with main dishes hovering around the £50-£75 mark, alas a very rare treat.

'People like little houses, little cars, little beds, little coffees. London - it's a little island, quite stuck-up. Do something grand, it's seen as pretentious. Michelin stars, or not, this is a unique experience. The only applause I need is from customers. When they shake my hand, when they say to their wives: "This is Mourad!" I feel so happy I could cry' Sketch owner, Mourad Mazouz.

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