I met someone last Sunday who might sincerely believe she was stamped [ROYALTY] on her backside when she was born. Not a great way to start this most elegant, gorgeous and wonderful blog post but it’s gotta be done.
Some women think they’re princesses. I mean there’s nothing wrong with getting the princess treatment, to be pampered like a princess (each to their own I suppose) if that existence wasn’t one that bothered humble, noble plebians like us. Fair enough, I suppose princesses do still exist in this day and age but that’s no reason for me to sit about content that I’m acting like someone’s slave. If you want a personal slave, hire one or go invent an android. Anything. Just get off your bum and do something remotely productive.
In the world of retail (and let’s be more specific and narrow that down tofashion retail), employer-employee-customer relations can be damn tricky. And when customers are the weirdest, rudest and unappreciative, it’s hard to restrain ourselves from saying something like: ‘What? Are you dumb?’ or when you’ve really reached your limit with these little kids trying on clothes that barely cover their arses and are determined on turning the fitting rooms into a jungle, ‘Oi kids, get out. And never come back’. And then when it comes to shoplifters, ah don’t even get me started on that one. I get red and angry as a beetroot. At the end of the day, after the frustrations gradually melt away in the steam from a hot cuppa tea, I suppose it’s still something to learn from, to muse and quite often to laugh about (after about 3 paragraphs of passionate bitching). I was planning on telling the story of Princess A and her Eyebag Boyfriend. It got really good typing it away and therefore, forgetting the more urgent issue of my research proposal but the whole story sorta turned into a sarcasm-dripping, black humour infused bitch fest. So I cut that out completely.
Couldn’t let that ruin your visual appetite for these lovely sweets from Sketch – The Parlour, now could I? I’d be a horrible foodie to do that to you. And if you really were itching for a good story (or bitch), you know you’ll definitely need to join us Tea Ladies for our next meet-up. Suyin’s got some good ones from work too and Mowie’s so calm and lovely, he’ll sort out your ruffled nerves instantly with that good humour of his. If all this mean gossip talk’s put you off, can I say once that’s over and done with, we really do immerse ourselves in delicate, ladylike chatter too?
So. There are princesses. And then, there are princesses. At Sketch, you are made to feel just a little bit like one. Step in and you’re instant cake royalty – the good kind. Lush interiors, Victorian furniture, big windows and floor-skimming curtains, rich upholstery and carpeting, dim lights and decadent atmosphere spliced with quirky pop art and caricature posters and skull lamp-shades. Sketch is an eclectic mix of things classic, vintage, grunge and of pop culture. Once you’re sat at a table (if you get one, guard your fortress like I did as tables are hard to come by. I saw Suyin go walking by through the window a little lost but nope, stayed and stubbornly guarded my table instead of going out to welcome her. I’m that bad a friend but that loyal a cake fan), you’ll see all the menus of the day printed in elegant calligraphic script slipped into the pages of a frayed old hardcover book (mine was Chemistry right smack in the formulas of CH3 COOH or something like that). Instantly feeling like Alice in a strange and exotic wonderland, you’ll be impressed with the huge variety of drinks, cocktails, mocktails, appetizers, teas and sweets to accompany it. You’re almost convinced you’re eating with vintage silver cutlery too!
And I positively felt a bit like Marie Antoinette at certain moments too. Decadently surrounded by lavish furniture and crazily beautiful pastry, waited on my beautiful wait-staff dressed in flocked floral and ruffly uniforms. It’s like simply the thing of dreams!
Pannacotta Tartlet – tonka bean macaron, Medjool dates, fresh and preserved grapefrui
Of course, us Tea Ladies with a sweet-tooth bigger than the universe when put together went straight to the Signature Cakes menu. We were in heaven. There was nothing we could fault. Each cake and pastry was perfectly made, perfectly served and dreamy to taste. The little descriptions on the menu helped us deconstruct and draw out the tastes of each bite on our tongues, making it last as long as possible. I licked my fork quite a few times to get every bit of pastry cream. I was quite unembarrassed to do that actually. Sketch’s pastry chef got everything right and it was hard to say which one was the best or favourite. Every one was great in their own way. I gotta admit I was thoroughly impressed with the pastry cream though and the moistness of the pannacotta encased within the tart base and a white chocolate top layer.
Pâte à Choux – pâte à choux, lemon pastry cream, mango and passion fruit jelly, vanilla and almond whipped cream
The next was blackcurrant heaven. Can’t wait to eat this one again as it was very refreshing and the dark purple shade was extreme food porn for me! The same shade as my bedding actually. The blackcurrant marmalade…one word: exquisite.
Cardinal – blackcurrant macaron, blackcurrant marmalade and violet mousseline cream, garnished with a blueberry and sugared petal
And the last but not the least at all…one to make the Maya gods proud.
Café Guanaja – hazelnut and praline, Guanaja chocolate cream, sacher biscuit, coffee and sabayon chocolate cream
This quirky, edgy, cool and extremely stylish place is one to visit again and again, whether it’s the Parlour, the Michelin star dining room aka The Lecture Room & Library or the evening bar The Glade or the art gallery which turns into a gastro-brasserie by night aka The Gallery. Hmm…pardon me saying so, but even hanging out in the toilets and the experience en route to the ladies was quite glorious. Don’t believe me? Check it out. Fancy lights, jewel-studded flush buttons and giant jewel handles. You can’t get as cool as that.
9 Conduit Street
Tel.: 020 7659 4500
•eat music drink art•
Afternoon Tea @ The Parlour: 3 – 6pm