London’s most sensorially stimulating restaurant, bar and art space – sketch has become a London icon since opening in 2013. An idiosyncratic blend of ineffable luxury and off the wall interiors, each visit feels like a tumble down the rabbit hole into Wonderland.
Directly opposite the powder pink dining room of The Gallery, adorned with over 200 David Shrigley artworks and those pod toilets – The Glade has recently launched a redesigned bar menu from new Bar Manager Pepijn Van-den Abeele. Joining sketch following four years’ experience at the helm of The Connaught Bar, Van-den Abeele’s menu is split into four sections: ‘Bloody Marys’, ‘Cocktails’, ‘Spritz’, and ‘Non Alcoholic’.
In addition to the menu shake-up, the room has also witnessed a brand new refurbishment. Embellishing the enchanted découpage forest created by founder Mourad Mazouz and Artists Carolyn Quartermaine and Didier Mahieu on opening, the eminent découpaged wallpaper is joined by new rich velvet upholstery and a striking palette of greens, violet and cobalt blue. All table tops are luridly coloured and mirrored, while the ceiling is fashioned from tinted glass, of course. The carpet, on the other hand (designed by visual artist and sculptor Alexandra Kehayoglou) is so thick, so luxurious it’s difficult to cross without stumbling – even before the intake of any alcohol.
Wait, did I forget to mention the self playing piano statement piece? The décor at The Glade (and throughout the whole building) is so contemporary, it’s almost futuristic. Simply, the setting is absolutely stunning and must be seen to be believed. From the bar, equally eccentric signature cocktails include the likes of ‘Not Far From the Tree’, comprising Freya Birch spirit, tonic water, mastika, and Italicus Liquore di Bergamo; or ‘Avocalicious’ with avocado, yoghurt, lime, agave and optional Tapatio Blanco tequila. From the classic section of the menu, ‘The Toronto’ (£18.50) is similar to a classic Manhattan made with Rittenhouse rye, yet sweetened with the addition of maple syrup. The drink is then garnished with a boozy cherry that tastes as though soaked in Cognac since the space opened (a good thing).
More outrageous is the ‘Kaf Tai’ (£20), served in a hefty goblet. On paper, the list of ingredients read like an absolute disaster: Bruichladdich whisky, kaffir lime sherbet, hot mango chutney, sesame oil and mango. Against all odds, however, these flavours actually work well together, with the flavour of sesame most prominent, luscious with the whisky and very subdued mango. ‘Bi Yar’ (£16), on the other hand, combines Opihr gin with fragrant kumquat and curry sherbet and IPA – like a more refreshing gin and tonic. It’s also a remarkable palate cleanser.
In regards to bar snacks, foie gras tartlets (£11 for five) are decadently coated with milk chocolate, embellished with slivers of pickled red pepper. A tried and tested combination, the foie and chocolate combination is sating, though the harsh acid from the garnish does knock the dish’s balance. Comté-filled gougères (£7 for three), however, are exceptional – topped with a paper-thin film of parsley jelly that brings spades of flavour, complementing the cheese and savoury pastry. Crab cakes (£12 for three) are simple, but also delectable – free from grease and fragrant with chilli and ginger.
Without the addition of boundary pushing cocktails, The Glade is an absolute must-visit, even if only to experience the striking interiors. Prepare to have your breath snatched away, though. After multiple visits over the past two years, I’m still shocked every time I step from Conduit Street into sketch’s unique central London Wonderland.
The Glade at sketch can be found at 9 Conduit Street, London, W1S 2XG.