You’ve probably heard of Sketch or at the very least seen photos of the carnation pink velvet chairs in the Gallery (a part of the restaurant). As soon as I knew I would be traveling to London (which was actually only 2-3 weeks prior to going on the trip), I immediately made reservations for afternoon tea at the Gallery. The place is wildly popular thanks to Instagram, so I was pretty lucky to actually find a time open for afternoon tea. The place books up pretty quick!
It was my first afternoon high tea. Though there are plenty of tea rooms in The States, including some great tea rooms close to where I live, I’ve never really made the time to go to one. I’m kind of glad that I got to have my first afternoon tea in London since high tea is an English tradition. In a sense, it was nice to not have another tea experience to compare it to, but I also didn’t really know what to expect. I only knew what to expect based on movies, photos, and friend’s experiences. Afternoon tea isn’t exactly a wild time, but it was fun to finally experience it on my own.
The afternoon tea isn’t exactly nominally priced (price per person starts at £58), but coming here was a nice “treat yourself” experience for myself. During my entire trip to London, I was pretty mindful about spending, except for when I was at Sketch. It was a bit of a YOLO moment since I was traveling on my own and didn’t really have to take everyone’s travel desires and budgets into consideration–only my own (perks of solo travel, friends!).
Upon being seated in the Gallery, I was given a menu with a full list of the courses and the selections I could make. My lovely servers (really, the service here is great) kindly let me know that everything other than the initial drink ordered (you can select from non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages) and the caviar + quail egg, is unlimited. I could order as many of my favorite teas, sandwiches, or pastries as I liked.
I began my tea with a non-alcoholic rosé drink, which was a nice way to settle in and start. I went with a non-alcoholic drink only because I had many drinks the night before and woke up that morning hungover. Alcohol was one of the last things I wanted at that moment. Had I not been hungover that morning, I probably would have gone with sparkling wine.
Next, I selected my tea. There were so many teas to pick from, but I went with a white peony tea since it’s flavor is light and gentle and goes with just about any food.
I hadn’t noticed at this point, but a trio of musicians (all women btw!) had set up in the corner of the Gallery and began playing beautiful music! It was nice to enjoy my tea and rosé drink while listening to the music.
The first food that came out was the quail egg + caviar. I became a little nervous at this point. I’m not much of a seafood person, but I was willing to try the caviar. The part that made me nervous was figuring out the proper way to eat everything. Also the table next to me just finished their tea and were waiting for their check, meaning they could stare at me oddly eating my food. My solution was to quickly eat everything and slowly add the caviar to the quail eggs one bite at a time. I hope I did it right, but to be totally honest I’m still not sure!
Next, the tiered stand of finger sandwiches and pastries made their way to my table. Though it doesn’t look like a lot of food, I was stuffed fully after eating all of it. It’s pretty damn filling. I didn’t place a second order on any of the finger sandwiches or pastries, just so I could stuff myself full with more tea and the scone that came next. I do wish I had some extra room though–I loved all of the finger sandwiches. Again, I’m not a big seafood person, but I still ate the smoked salmon finger sandwich and found it to be quite good. The pastries were all great, too. I’m not big on cheesecake or fruit filled pastries usually but I found all of them to be quite tasty. My line of thinking was to try everything on the tiered stand, even if it wasn’t something I usually liked. Often when food is prepared in a phenomenal way, it doesn’t really matter if you usually like it or not.
I ordered another tea, a hibiscus one this time, which had a deeper flavor than the gentle white tea I began with. It was a great tea to pair with the scone I had next. Warm and delicious, I had my scone with the fig and strawberry jam.
Finally, I was served a traditional Victoria sponge cake. It made my taste buds sing, but my stomach was so full I couldn’t finish the cake. I began to take small bites here and there but at some point I just let go and decided that if I ate anymore I would just get sick.
After my meal and taking in the posh pink environment, I was soon on my way to some of the stores in the area for a nice-post meal walk. Or as some friends call it, the digestion walk.
Overall, I loved the afternoon tea and definitely think it’s worth the experience. Be ready to pay for the experience (it’ll be about $100 USD/person including the service charge depending on what you order), but also come ready to have a good, relaxing time and enjoy yourself.
Sketch also has other beautifully decorated rooms and serves more than just afternoon tea. Take a look at their website and their menus for a good idea of what they have to offer.