Overnight Sensation

Sketch in London

No opening in London popped quite like Sketch, the sprawling new restaurant, bar, patisserie, tearoom, and art gallery. And with good reason: Sketch is Mourad Mazouz's magnum opus. The decor is a camp wonderland. Guests lounge in the downstairs bar on inflatable banquettes under plastic-coated chandeliers. Upstairs, the fireplace is lined with silver leaf. Sketch's bathrooms are jewel boxes covered in bronze and copper glass studded with Swarovski crystals. But for all the hype, there's no second-guessing chef Pierre Gagnaire's food in the upstairs dining room. You choose from five starters, ten entrées (five fish, five meat), and seven desserts; there are also supremely sophisticated amuses-bouche, including wafer-thin sheets of cuttlefish on a bed of soybeans and sesame seeds. The vegetable appetizer features a turnip broth with farm cider—perhaps the richest poor man's food ever made. The crab starter uses pig's ear and albacore tuna in bizarre yet brilliant balance. Also excellent is the John Dory, served with scallops on a bed of semolina sweetened by red peppers, green papaya, and white grapes. But the dish that finally justifies the price tag (dinner is $200 a head, excluding wine) is the potato cake with cured wild-boar ham, which goes far beyond expectations of the humble tuber. For dessert, a single rose-blossom crisp is wittily priced at $6.50 a mouthful. The only fault is the slightly harried service, masterminded by ex-Ramsay men who have defected from Claridges. You can be sure there will be others—defections, that is, especially diners. Dinner, $400. At 9 Conduit Street; 44-870-777-4488.

Restaurant prices reflect a three-course dinner for two, excluding beverages and gratuity.