Sketch: The Lecture Room & Library

Cheese, Fish, French, Fusion, Modern European, Vegetarian·
££££
·
Gold Award
·

SquareMeal Review of Sketch: The Lecture Room & Library

Gold Award

“A cavern of opulence and decadence” is how one reader describes this three-Michelin-starred homage to glorious gastronomic excess at the top of sketch’s Conduit Street pleasure dome – a surrealistic wonderland full of dazzling delights.

The Lecture Room itself is a mind-blowing ballroom-like showstopper complete with stucco ceilings and jewel-coloured armchairs – a perfect backdrop for super-chef Pierre Gagnaire’s outlandish multi-layered culinary conceits.

Diners “should be prepared for an experience” as wave after wave of highly stylised, whimsical dishes arrive as miniature banquets guaranteed to send your taste buds into overdrive: ‘flotsam’, for example, is a cornucopia involving black olive jelly, borlotti velouté, glazed bluefin tuna, salted mackerel, razor clams and green bean salad, while ‘péir’ brings together a ballotine of French rabbit perfumed with marjoram, a gateau of Swiss chard and ricotta, octopus and cuttlefish carpaccio, chilled bouillon and more besides.

Mains from ‘the sea’ (well, Cornwall) and ‘the land’ offer further sensory stimulation, from complex arrangements red mullet, sole and wild turbot to pan-roasted veal sweetbread with angelica alongside crispy red quinoa, mild onion fondue, potato ‘bilou’ and green apple sorbet, while Gagnaire’s ‘grand dessert’ yields a six-plate sugar-rush of wildly creative patisserie presented in two services; alternatively, dive into the Lecture Room’s vacherin encased in a pink meringue shell with semi-confit melon and Muscat de Beaumes de Venise jelly.  

Thoughtfully matched wines provide the ideal accompaniment to such extraordinarily complex food, while passionately keen and knowledgeable staff in dapper outfits are ready to provide guidance along the way.  

Good to know

Average Price
££££ - Over £80
Cuisines
Cheese, Fish, French, Fusion, Modern European, Vegetarian
Ambience
Cosy, Fine dining, Fun, Lively, Luxury, Quirky, Romantic, Unique, Widely spaced tables
Other Awards
Three Michelin stars
Food Occasions
Dinner, Lunch
Special Features
Gluten-free options, Vegetarian options
People
Birthdays, Celebrations, Dates, Romantic, Special occasions
Food Hygiene Rating

About

While Sketch is a staunch long-time resident of Mayfair and famed for its unusual, artistic interior design, there's one room within the multi-restaurant venue that you probably won't have seen all over social media. On a private, upper floor, The Lecture Room & Library boasts a more exclusive offering, often used on a sole hire basis and only holding lunch and dinner reservations at restricted timings throughout the week - for example, between midday and 1.30pm, or 6.30pm until 9pm in the evenings. 

The Lecture Room & Library's kitchen was formerly ran by longtime Sketch collaborator, French chef Pierre Gagnaire, who was awarded three Michelin stars for his work here, but now the baton has been passed to head chef Daniel Stucki. The a la carte lunch menu begins with starters such as summer vegetables in herbal broth with Scottish girolles, and mains spanning fish, meat and vegetarian bases. Options here include sea trout with raspberry butter served with maris piper potato and confit shallot, next to creedy duck marinated in cumin and savory served with grilled fruits and nutmeg. 

In the evening, guests are welcomed to try the tasting menu which spans eight courses and includes vegetarian options, as well as a wine pairing. An example of the plates you might see here include roasted slice of pollock with aromatics, Anjou pigeon roasted and smoked with hay, as well as poached native lobster with leafy carrot, peach and watercress. 

As always, the space is also incredibly visually stimulating, making it more than just a feast for the tastebuds. High, corniced ceilings are enhanced by a wall of mirrors, elevating the space to ballroom-like proportions, while rich hues of red, orange, gold and purple flit across the furnishings. The centre piece, though, is without a doubt the huge, red chandelier hanging in the heart of the space, setting the tone for the whole experience. 


FAQs

Does Sketch: The Lecture Room & Library have a Michelin star?

The venue has three Michelin stars.

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Does Sketch: The Lecture Room & Library have vegetarian options?

Yes, there are vegetarian options available.

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Does Sketch: The Lecture Room & Library allow children?

Children must be aged 6 or above and anyone under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult.

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Sketch: The Lecture Room & Library is featured in

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Sketch: The Lecture Room & Library
Private Group Dining

Sketch: The Lecture Room & Library

Location

9 Conduit Street, Mayfair, London, W1S 2XG

020 7659 4500 020 7659 4500

Website

Opening Times

Lunch
Mon Closed
Tue Closed
Wed Closed
Thu 12:00-17:00
Fri 12:00-17:00
Sat 12:00-17:00
Sun Closed
Dinner
Mon Closed
Tue Closed
Wed 18:30-21:00
Thu 18:30-21:00
Fri 18:30-21:00
Sat 18:30-21:00
Sun Closed

Reviews

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19 Reviews 
Food/Drink
Service
Atmosphere
Value

Anon

28 December 2022  
Food & Drink 5
Service 5
Atmosphere 5
Value 5

Superb experience from first foot in the door to last step out, unbelievable staff, service and of course food.

Debra W

27 December 2022  
Food & Drink 5
Service 5
Atmosphere 5
Value 5

Food is divine and wine pairings exquisite. The tasting menu was really delicious. The ambience is very "Alice in Wonderland"...just magical 

Danielle P

23 November 2022  
Food & Drink 5
Service 5
Atmosphere 5
Value 5

Love the food and service!

Corinne B

08 July 2019  
Fabulous surroundings with lots of space. The food was beautiful too.

Alex G

08 February 2019  
Food & Drink 5
Service 5
Atmosphere 4.5
Value 4
Top of its league

The title says it all. Sketch may have been open since 2003 but it deservedly remains one of the best fine dining locations in London, its two Michelin stars thoroughly merited. A meal in its Lecture Room & Library was my culinary highlight of 2018, and a return visit there on a recent Saturday night reinforced how Sketch could also be in contention for the 2019 award. What makes it so good? Well to merit two stars, the experience needs to be the complete package: atmosphere, service, food and drink. Indeed, it was hard to fault any of these. Without wishing to repeat comments from my previous review, Sketch delivers opulent decadence by the spoonful: think a beautifully decorated room, where everything seems tastefully thought-through yet neither over the top nor out of place. When it comes to the food, no wonder the word panache is a French one, for this adjective perhaps best describes what Pierre Gagnaire and his team attempts here. Across a six-course tasting menu (omnivorous for me, vegetarian for my comrade), there was ample opportunity to demonstrate the practical application of this noun. My menu began with the artfully named ‘magenta’, an offering of pink sea bream and gambero Rossi coated with quince gel and combined with Jerusalem artichoke jelly and sliced cauliflower. If ever there were one, then this was a bold and inspired combination which worked perfectly, the flavours melding seamlessly. Elsewhere, a scallop dish served with braised turnips and seaweed butter (pictured) and a daring pairing of poached cod with a foie gras cream impressed, while my comrade rated highly her ‘Chantilly Lace’, a lovely marriage of onion subise with black winter truffle. Paired wines throughout showed great thought too, with a quite unique Chinon from 1989 being the stand-out glass. Nonetheless, Sketch saved the best until last with its ‘grand dessert’ selection, namely, vignettes of six different puddings. Monsieur Gagnaire himself, we were told, comes over from France every two/three months to compose the next set. The overall experience is far from cheap (£250/head all-in), but goddam is it worth it.

Alex G

28 June 2018  
A cavern of opulence and decadence, which also serves exceptionally good food. Diners should be prepared for an experience.

Corinne B

27 June 2018  
Again a very good experience. The dã©cor is unusual and striking. There is a lot of space but it still feels intimate. The food and service were faultless. The tasting menu was delicious and am so glad that i've had the opportunity to go to Sketch.

Patrick B

04 May 2017  
Superb in all aspects!

Christopher Y

26 May 2016  
Probably one of the most interesting places to eat in London with many many small plates of delectable treats.

Paul A

13 January 2016  
Food & Drink 5
Service 4.5
Atmosphere 4
Value 4.5
Mostly very impressive
Following the disappointing experience we had had at Gagnaire’s Rue Balzac branch, we had put off eating here and were almost half hoping that we would find Sketch to be somewhere that we wouldn’t want to return to - if it turned out to be yet another two-star restaurant in Mayfair we liked it would be overegging the pudding; so perhaps we might have been looking for things to criticise. Nevertheless, from the welcomes to the goodbyes, we were pleasantly struck by the show of professional yet relaxed expertise at all levels, in the kitchen, front of house and wine selection, with the one minor drawback for us being the rather over-designed dining rooms and the dark stairway leading up to them. We still think that the tasting menu is the best way to judge a chef’s talent over the whole range of dishes, and the youthful head chef, Johannes Luding, didn’t disappoint, even with the modest size of the kitchen available to him. A good selection of fizz heralded the impressive wine list, which cannot be consulted on line, and a glass of Rémy Le Mesnil made a suitable companion for some very good canapés - Martini vodka jelly, tarragon croquettes, squid ink wafers with goat’s cheese, chorizo with crunchy beetroot, and, just as delicious, some warm little Parmesan biscuits. We were now well and truly ready to take on the first dish. I am partial to the bold taste of hare, and the terrine was bolstered with judicious amounts of foie gras and truffle and neatly balanced against red cabbage, redcurrant and cubes of quince jelly, all laced with Guinness. There seems to be an inevitability about scallops being on menus at the moment, but the top chefs are succeeding in caramelising them just perfectly and here they were cooked just right, like pommes anna and bathing in a light curry sauce with leeks and celery. An absolute stonker of a dish “From the sea” followed: a Gagnaire original called bouillon Zézette, a wonderful mushroom and coconut sauce, offering up a superb oyster, an artichoke cream worked up to something special, top-class smoky black garlic with cauliflower, tender razor clams, prawns, caramelised salsify, and even the humble Paris mushrooms were a step above the norm. Next came poached and grilled wild bass with a brilliant coating of mimolette, a star anise-perfumed pumpkin velouté, Italian pumpkin because of its particular qualities we were informed, soya bean sprouts, grapes, chicory and walnuts. No question of local sourcing with the main course either - the lovely pigeon was from Angers, roasted whole after marinating in lemon and cumin, which accounted for its tenderness and its not-too-gamey flavour which found a counterpoint in a terrific Puy lentil, physalis and daikon mix with a portion of proper sauerkraut to round it off. A word here about the accompanying wines, which were good to very good at the price, especially the amazing Ch Figeac 1970 with the pigeon and the Ch Rieussec with the Grand Dessert, the latter another Gagnaire signature combination comprising a sequence of six small desserts, all of them quite sublime: a kind of deconstructed Linzer Torte with cinnamon and pomegranate, a coconut velouté, passion fruit and sorbet, pineapple crisp with a deconstructed (again) toffee (pine)apple and cream, and chocolate crisp with tangerine segments, all this and delightful petits fours. Altogether a very worthwhile experience and one that we look forward to repeating. So, just one more two-star venue to go; there is in fact another one that we have not tried, The Araki, but we are discounting it on three points of principle - firstly, its dismissive unwillingness to accommodate dietary requirements, secondly, we refuse to pay £300 per person for the privilege, and thirdly, we find its immediate award of two stars difficult to swallow when there are still genuinely classy restaurants without any star recognition after many years of producing the goods at a price we can afford.
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