This Christmas we decided not to give presents for the sake of it and tried to buy more interesting gifts which, in the case of our mum’s, meant we booked to take them out for afternoon tea. My mother-in-law is also an avid baker so we trawled the internet looking for somewhere that wasn’t your standard afternoon tea and in the end we settled on Sketch. The famous bar/restaurant has been open 10 years now, as the host told us as she took us round the different rooms and told us about the different artists who had decorated each room. The decor was half the reason we chose Sketch, it looks beautiful and have some fantastical toilets…more on those later.
We booked afternoon tea in The Glade, and ended up sat on the very table featured in the photograph. The menu was intriguing to say the least with some seriously unusual flavour combinations. We ordered afternoon tea for 5 with earl grey, assam breakfast & vanilla tea to accompany it. The food arrived on a cake stand made of stacked cups & saucers and there was so much to fit on the table we had to leave the scones on the bar until we’d got through the sandwiches and pastries.
We started with the four sandwiches. From top left, clockwise: A super flavoursome smoked salmon on a beautifully soft flatbread. Egg mayonnaise with a fried quail’s egg & caviar. Cucumber, broccoli & ricotta and a croque monsieur with comte cheese. I could eat all of them again (and again and again), but the revelation for me was the egg mayonnaise sandwich. I can’t bear egg mayonnaise sandwiches, but this was no ordinary egg mayo sandwich and the quail’s egg on top was glorious, even if I did bite into the yolk and get it everywhere. Tomorrow I am making myself an egg mayonnaise sandwich, this meal has changed my sandwich eating life.
Then it was time for the sweet stuff. Clockwise from left: White chocolate & coconut lollipop, almost liquid centred and a flavour pairing to remember. Lemon & basil tart which was like a tiny lemon meringue pie with a savoury basil undertone. Chocolate and mint eclair & finally the fig & port tart. The fig and port tart baffled us all I’m afraid, we just didn’t get it. The eclair was lovely, though I couldn’t really taste the mint. The lollipop was delicious and I will definitely try pairing white chocolate and coconut in a cake soon. But the hands down winner was the lemon and basil tart. After the first bite I was confused and didn’t know what to make of it, but by the end I was completely and utterly won over. I have to try making this flavour tart. I need it in my life.
Then it was on to pudding, for want of a better course description. A Christmas pudding macaroon, particularly appropriate considering why we were there and a tapioca pudding with pomegranate coulis, blueberries & champagne jelly. I’m not a huge macaroon or Christmas pudding fan so this was never going to be my favourite part of the meal. The macaroon was light and crisp with a beautifully smooth centre and it tasted just like a Christmas pudding! I didn’t like it. I was also less keen on the idea of tapioca pudding as hideous memories of school rice pudding came creeping back to me, but it was delicious. Light and vanillary with a thick berry coulis on top. Delightful.
By now we were absolutely stuffed and the thought of a thick, heavy scone with lashings of clotted cream was too much for us to take. However we are not lightweights, so after a couple of cups of tea to wash down the previous courses, we got stuck into the scones and thank god we did. These were the lightest, fluffiest scones I have ever eaten. I ate the whole thing. One half with apple marmalade and the other with strawberry jam. Both with clotted cream, of course.
I’m afraid to say though, we were then defeated both by time and stomach space. We just couldn’t manage these marshmallows. Luckily Sketch were quite happy to give us a doggy bag, so we don’t have to miss out on trying the gingerbread, kiwi or mandarin marshmallows.
All in all a fantastic afternoon. It wasn’t cheap but it was great value for money – unusual, delicious, filling and inspiring! Oh and the toilets! The famous Sketch toilets, where each cubicle is a giant egg…