‘Why have less when you can have more?’ is the attitude at Sketch, Pierre Gagnaire’s wonderfully OTT gastronomic playground for well-heeled scenesters. Now a decade old, the Gallery (the more casual of Sketch’s two main dining offerings) had a revamp in early 2012, with input from Turner Prize-winning artist Martin Creed. Since then artist David Shrigley, another Turner Prize winner, has put his own stamp on the restaurant space. Shrigley's work is everywhere. The walls are adorned almost edge to edge with Shrigley's strange, funny and often satirical childlike drawings. You can season your food with Shrigley designed shakers including 'dirt' (pepper), 'dust' (salt) or 'nothing' (true to its label, it contains nothing).
Gagnaire has overhauled the menu, but has kept the trademark global vibe, drawing on influences from Japan, Italy, Spain and Britain – all underpinned by French cuisine. Modern classics, such as the 63ºC egg, conceived by French chemist Hervé This, are a strong suit, but Asian-inspired dishes don’t always hit such culinary high notes. There’s a proper sense of creativity to the menu, from a sea bass paillard with artichokes and seaweed to the playful ‘big mac’ dessert – a lemongrass macaroon on sweet wine jelly with grapefruit marmalade.
It isn’t cheap, but if you scour the menu, you’ll find items less taxing to the wallet. The wine list is imaginatively chosen, and service is sweet and switched-on. Ten years on, this is still a place with wow factor.
Dinner: 6:30pm-2am (Mon-Sat), 6pm-midnight (Sun).
Afternoon tea: 12:30pm-4:30pm (Mon-Sun).
Celebrated British artist, David Shrigley, has transformed the Gallery at sketch as part of a long-term programme of artist-conceived restaurants. 239 new works line the restaurant’s walls, forming the largest group of original drawings Shrigley has ever exhibited.
The Gallery is open seven days a week for afternoon tea and dinner.
India Mahdavi, who has created a backdrop for David Shrigley’s artwork, conceived a soothing, monochromatic, strikingly comprehensive interior. The classic, almost bourgeois design invites a deliberately playful contrast with the witty, outré art works - all is most certainly not what it seems. While matching sketch’s delight in the avant-garde, this harmonious disorder breaks with the Gallery’s usual eclecticism.
The exhibition continues on the restaurant tables. Shrigley has understood the dining table as an auxiliary exhibition space, a platform for the presentation of new work by himself and our master chef, Pierre Gagnaire.
The work comprises new ceramic tableware featuring Shrigley’s distinctive, mordant drawings and texts, in a holistic interaction with Gagnaire’s food. The meal itself becomes a site-specific sculptural work that references sketch’s location in the heart of London and invites diners to respond with their thoughts and reactions.