Step out from the cold and take a trip down the rabbit hole to one of our favourite London hideaways, Sketch.
The centrally-located wonderland, just off Regent’s Street at 9 Conduit Street, promises to transport you away from the hubbub to an oasis of calm.
This Christmas, the venue doesn’t disappoint with another festive twist on its afternoon tea menu.
On a rainy Wednesday in the Big Smoke, I stepped out of the wetness, through the front door curtains into a twinkling cavern of cool.
After dropping our wet coats off at the front desk, we made our way through to the Gallery, where we were shown to a corner seat.
It was 12:30pm, slightly early for afternoon tea as I was due to catch a train, but the place gradually filled out.
One of our very smiley and friendly waitresses started by filling our glasses with a light, sweet pour of pink Pommery champagne while we perused the menu.
The front page of the awesomely designed booklet explained ‘enter this place with an open mind. Imagine, if you will, a painting that never dries.’
I was armed with an open mind and ready to check out the treats rustled up by executive head chef Herve Deville and head pastry chef Christophe Gasper.
The Christmas afternoon tea menu is swiftly delivered in different stages and it all unfolds like a piece of culinary theatre.
The only thing guests must choose, is what kind of tea they’d like to slurp on in-between sips of champagne.
On the food front, the first thing that sailed our way was the most beautiful plate of ‘egg and soldiers’.
Two little strips of bread lay next to a dainty spoon of caviar and an egg cup full of yolk layered over a creamy, cheesy base.
It was the perfect start to what was a rather decadent 90 minutes of munching.
Next up, a three-tier stacker was delivered to our white-clothed table brimming with nibbles.
Our waitress, dressed in a space-like twinkling festive dress, ran us through what was on offer.
Sandwiches were artfully stuffed with coronation chicken, egg mayonnaise and a BLT concoction minus the bacon. But my favourite savoury snack was the smoked salmon layered between two fluffy pieces of Jacobs cream cracker, topped with a dabbing of salmon roe.
With my savoury tooth amply satisfied, I turned my attention to the sweets.
Adding a splash of sunshine to the wet weather was a wedge of exotic cheesecake.
The cinnamon and chocolate tart also helped perk me up a little, as did the blood orange and walnut cake.
But it didn’t stop there, just as our champagne glasses were topped up, a plate of fresh-from-the-oven scones were delivered with some lashings of fig jam, strawberry jelly, and Cornish clotted cream.
I wasn’t sure where to plunge my fork next!
Thankfully I hadn’t had breakfast that day, as the final act arrived in due course.
Carved direct from the cake trolley, was a hefty wedge of jammy-looking sponge cake and a chocolaty, hazelnut creation.
To help with digestion, I turned my attention to the tea. With so many fine fancies – and champagne – the main ingredient in the afternoon TEA can easily get neglected.
I picked a smokey brew, picked by the waitress after I informed her I was a fan of lapsang souchong.
It’s not only the food that impresses this season at Sketch but the installation – Silent Light – conceived by world leading light artist Chris Levine, also entertains.
As a string quartet played away close to the bar, lights oscillated around the room in time to the beat. After conquering as much sandwich, tea and cake as possible it was time to leave.
Feeling well fed and well-watered I collected my damp coat and reluctantly stumbled back out to the street armed with a warm and fuzzy feeling to protect me from the cold.
I know time’s running away but if you can, hop down the rabbit hole for some festive fancies which guarantee to feed your Christmas spirit.
Sketch is located at 9 Conduit Street, London, W1S 2X
To book a table, call +44 (0) 20 7659 4500 or visit sketch.london/what