Sunday, 31 January 2010

Sketch at the Royal Academy

I realise that some of my recent posts have had less to do with wine and more to do with 'and the city', but I want to expand the blog to accommodate all the cultural things I get up to, wine related or not.

Friday was a such an evening. After work I headed across town to the Royal Academy to catch the Sketch pop-up café before it folded down its cardboard tables and chairs for good.

I love the idea of the pop-up café – the whole catch me if you can concept. The café shares Sketch's flair for flamboyance, its centrepiece being a giant chandelier made from outsized reading glasses that reflect a kaleidoscope of light around the ceiling.

The walls are hot pink and covered with open books, fanned out and floating as if in some Dalínian dream. The menu is etched on a framed portrait painting with a hole in it, while a pair of harlequin dogs made from old toys by artist Robert Frampton guard the entrance.

Surprisingly restrained for Pierre Gagnaire, the food included gems such as pumpkin soup with popcorn and sexed-up salads. There was also much joy to be found in the pâtisserie section, from pastel coloured macaroons and coffee eclairs to thick slices of hazelnut cake. Having indulged Marie Antoinette-style on cake the night before, I refrained and went for a Nutella crêpe, as they were out of salted caramel. Tempted by the mini bottles of Pommery 'Pop' Champagne, I opted instead for a pot of English Breakfast.

My friend and I sat at a cardboard table in the portico on rainbow coloured wooden chairs. It felt incredibly childlike, as if we were in a giant nursery waiting for the teacher to arrive. I had read about promises of blankets and water bottles, though none were doing the rounds on our visit. Neither were the oysters – perhaps they had fled into the Thames?

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