With a successful run at The Cube under his belt and swathes of Toms Kitchens across London, it has been a good run for Aikens
AFTER A LITTLE while in the Michelin star black hole, Tom Aikens is back in favour and has had his star reinstated. With a successful run at The Cube under his belt and multiples of Tom’s Kitchens across London it has been a good stretch for Aikens. It, therefore, seemed only sensible to take mother out on the town for the night and try the newly refurbished, newly re-starred restaurant down in Chelsea.
The restaurant is tucked down a small residential street and feels really rather private. The interior is dark but modern: beautiful wooden furniture, artily painted and written-on walls in greys and blues and low lighting.
When you combine all of these elements it becomes quite easy to forget all about the tables next to you — unless, like us, you have a very noisy table nearby who say things like ‘I think I might have the turbot [pronounced ‘turbow’]. Is that a fish?’
The menu is made up of six options per course — or, if you’re feeling peckish, you can have the seven-course taster menu — and is updated according to the season.
The most notable winter addition when we went was Partridge with roast pear, chocolate and foie gras mousse — very festive. In addition to whatever you plump for on the menu, you’ll get some rather exotic looking amuse-bouches to amuse your bouche.
We had a very thin layer of foie gras topped with a thin jelly and shavings of frozen foie gras, served in that biology class favourite, the petri dish, an ash crisp with salt cod brandade and chorizo dust and the magnificent looking langoustine custard topped with a sabayon and hazelnuts.
This was magnificent-looking, as the edible portion was served in a hollowed out eggshell, sat inside a beautifully authentic looking bird’s nest. Wonderfully theatrical, even if the texture of the langoustine custard inside was a little strange in the mouth.
THEN CAME THE bread. Now, anyone who knows me will be aware of my undying love for carbohydrates. The bacon and onion brioche was as light as an airy sponge and the semolina roll sunshine yellow, crisp and delicious.
There were also cep buns, a rustic French roll and a few more hidden away in our little bread sack to be enjoyed with the bacon and onion, cep and salted butters. We would have happily just eaten the bread and butter all night — not quite as good in my opinion as the bacon and walnut roll with smoked butter at Viajante, but still incredibly tasty.
The courses that followed were all presented in incredibly intricate ways — as Mother said, this isn’t your usual dining out experience: the jasmine-cured salmon arrived in a belljar full of smoke that when released fills the air with a heady fog; the caramelised delice d’or apple comes in its own little sabayon bath; and the pistachio brick is a veritable sugar Tower of Sauron.
Everything is meticulously put together, from half-centimetre diameter cubes of jellies, to tiny flowers and delicate cylindrical slices of fruit. The flavours in all of the dishes we had were beautifully delicate and well-balanced, even if they were at times a little sweet for my taste. (This, though, is a recurring theme for me in many restaurants, having grown up eating cooking apples directly from the tree. Against mother’s wishes, I should add.)
It must also be said that the sommelier was superb. Too often the chef is smothered with praise and his counterparts forgotten, but not today. His choices — some of which were rather controversial, a pudding-sweet wine with the starters for example — were superb and complimented the food brilliantly. He was also devilishly charming, which helps.
Despite the dreary rain and freezing cold it was definitely worth making the trip to South Ken for our night out. The restaurant was inviting, warm and dry, the food beautiful and the wines surprising. Mother was impressed.
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