Realized by Paris-based restaurateur Mourad Mazouz and French master chef Pierre Gagnaire in 2002, Sketch Lecture Room and Library is a playful and quirky restaurant housing world-class wine, innovative cuisine, and an eccentric interior.
Mazouz is chiefly renowned for his ability to combine elements of the unusual in an extraordinary way. Together with Gagnaire they describe Sketch as “a ‘lieu’ or destination place, for food, art, and music” in Central London, with the hub being Gagnaire’s distinctive haute cuisine, prepared on this side of the Channel by Sketch executive chefs Johannes Nuding and Hervé Deville.
What’s missing from their description of the “lieu” is a mention of wine, but rest assured it takes center stage in each of Sketch’s five restaurants and bars, where wine director Frédéric Brugues oversees a fine cellar filled with both French and European classics and bold choices from around the world.
It was the by-the-glass list in the Michelin-starred Sketch Lecture Room & Library that made the deepest impression on the judges at the World’s Best Wine Lists Awards, however, who shortlisted it for the inaugural Best By-the-Glass Wine List in Europe award. Featuring engagingly written notes throughout, it moves from grower and Grande Marque Champagne, to a neat set of Sherry, Madeira, and Port; from Yves et Mathilde Gangloff Côte-Rôtie La Barbarine 2008, to Klein Constantia Vin de Constance 2007. It’s a by-the-glass list that delivers on Brugues’ promise of “variety and value” and then some.
The by-the-bottle list is a spectacular collection, carefully curated by the wine team, headed up by wine director Frédéric Brugues. The list achieved a prestigious Jury Prize in the 2016 World’s Best Wine Lists, one of only 50 restaurants in the world to do so. Some highlights include a very well balanced and selected range of Champagnes, from good growers like Cédric Bouchard, Chartogne-Taillet, Pascal Doquet, Jacques Lassaigne, and Vilmart, to top houses such as Billecart-Salmon, Bollinger, Krug, Pol Roger, Louis Roederer, and Salon. There are even four different disgorgements of Jacques Selosse Substance to choose from, as well as all of his rare mono-parcel wines, and an exceptionally good range of still Coteaux Champenois.
Among the range of whites, Bordeaux is given proper respect with clever selections of more affordable wines such as L’Esprit de Chevalier and Lune d’Or alongside legendary Laville Haut-Brion and Haut-Brion in great and mature vintages.
White selections for Italy and Spain, Germany and Austria, are understandably less extensive but equally well made, including a special Sketch Rías Baixas made by the brilliant winemaker Raúl Pérez (also available by-the-glass) and a Wieninger Wiener Gemischter Satz Nussberg Alte Reben, which can be hard to find beyond Vienna. Notably, the white options from Languedoc and Roussillon must be among the best in the UK.
Among the top red Burgundies are very recherché top crus from Comte Liger-Belair and Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, as well as exceptionally rare bottles of Bouchard Père & Fils Volnay Caillerets Ancienne Cuvée Carnot 1961 and 1962 direct from the unrivalled cellars of the Château de Beaune.
Among the red Bordeaux are not only legendary wines like 1989 Haut-Brion, but plenty of fully mature wines like Domaine de Chevalier 1970 and Trotanoy 1964 and the recently introduced third wine from Château Margaux.
Red selections from elsewhere in France, Italy, Spain, and the rest of the world are every bit as exciting as their white counterparts.
As Mazouz’s London-based initiative, the 18th-century townhouse encompasses a complex yet distinctly authentic design. Multiple interior designers have been drawn upon for a range of environments throughout the Sketch establishment; however Sketch Lecture Room & Library draws on the expertise of leading interior designer Gahban O’Keeffe to inspire a spacious and relaxing atmosphere. The funky interior is alternative but welcoming. Plush chairs in an autumnal palette adorn the room, and no two are the same. Variations of yellow, pink, orange, and red make the Lecture Room & Library inviting and warm, yet maintain its sophisticated, idiosyncratic allure.