November 16, 2008
Top London tea spots: Parlour at Sketch
With a reputation for displaying cakes “like jewels” (The Goddess Guide by Gisele Scanlon), it didn’t take long for me to sniff out The Parlour at Sketch when I first arrived in London.
Located across the road from Vivienne Westwood on Conduit Street, it offers an avant-garde setting for taking tea. Think traditional private men’s club complete with dark-wood panelling meets edgy gallery with odd-matching furniture and a chandelier fashioned out of Angelpoise lamps. It’s the sort of place where a live bird in a Victorian wire cage is replaced by a mini LCD screen playing looping clips of the real thing. And the toilets? Let’s just say that Kubrick wouldn’t be disappointed.
I was delighted to discover that said cakes were, in fact, exquisitely displayed in a carefully lighted glass showcase, and considering the location and setting, a reasonably-priced menu. Here, a delicious cream tea (fruit scones served with jam and clotted cream with a choice of tea) is £7.75 per person, compared to £10.75 at Liberty. Afternoon tea is also competitively-priced at £18.50 for the traditional line-up of assorted finger sandwiches, fruit scones served with jam and clotted cream, a selection of pastries and choice of teas.
The tea menu offers an excellent range catering for all tastes, with traditional blends and herbal infusions starting at £3. My pick is the deliciously-fragrant Jasmine Silver Fur for £4. There’s also a rather handy free Wi-Fi service, which I noticed quite a few people taking advantage of on both occasions I visited.
Just keep in mind that despite the fabulous cakes and edgy gallery setting, the service is notoriously snail-paced. But what does that matter if you’ve got all the time in the world (or a few emails to write). And did I mention the toilets?