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Restaurant Tom Aikens


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My wife and I ate in Tom Aikens for the first time last Tuesday. It was good, but slightly disappointing. Our booking was for 9pm and we opted for the classic menu. Some beautifully presented amuses bouches got us started, and the sommelier did a superb job of recommending nice wines, but there was a problem with the first course in our menu (scallops) After waiting quite a while, I asked a waiter what the problem was. The maitre d' came out to tell us that the chef was unhappy with the first course and wanted to re-do it, and that it was very nearly ready.

Scallops of course take notoriously long to cook. Anyway, it was 10.30 before the course arrived and by the time the whole meal was finished it was 1 am and we were so tired we didn't really enjoy the desserts.

The cooking was good, but I felt that both the scallops and John Dory were slightly overcooked. The service was a bit haphazard too.

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Salty

Why did you stay? I mean if I'm paying a lot of money, I certainly wouldn't have waited 90 min for my first course. The timings at restaurants are staggered so as not to over-load the kitchen.

I've walked out of local restaurants if the first course does not arrive within 30 or so minutes; but I've never experienced it at starred restaurants. Did you complain? If so, what was the explanation (other than culinary perfection).

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  • 3 months later...

Just read on The Kitchen Rat that Tom Aikens is opening another restaurant on Cale Street (the same street as Tom's Kitchen). According to the site:

"it's going to be an upmarket fish restaurant with a very strong eco-friendly element... so sustainable sourcing, packaging and environmentally friendly design"

Apparently it will have a take-away area as well! Looks like Tom is taking over Chelsea!

If a man makes a statement and a woman is not around to witness it, is he still wrong?

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Just read on The Kitchen Rat that Tom Aikens is opening another restaurant on Cale Street (the same street as Tom's Kitchen).  According to the site:

"it's going to be an upmarket fish restaurant with a very strong eco-friendly element... so sustainable sourcing, packaging and environmentally friendly design"

Apparently it will have a take-away area as well!  Looks like Tom is taking over Chelsea!

Tom Aikens - the new Jean Christophe Novelli?

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Is Tom hooking up with Findus aswell?

Could he improve on these? -

Cod loin with garlic, basil, rosemary, thyme and garlic infused oil

Cod loin with tomato, vanilla and aniseed infused oil

Salmon Fillet - with coconut & lemongrass extracts in a coriander

and aniseed infused oil

Haddock Mornay - on a bed of spinach topped with a rich

cheese Mornay sauce (serves one)

Prime Cod fillet tower - topped with spinach, tomato sauce and

Emmental cheese and served on a bed of creamy mashed potato

Lemon & Honey Roast Chicken served on a bed of creamy spring

onion mash

Lasagne Novelli with a creamy camembert béchamel sauce

Mediterranean Rigatoni - with chunky aubergine, red onion,

peppers, courgettes, fennel, olives and cherry tomatoes with a

blue cheese glaze

Apple & Raisin Crêpe Crumble with white chocolate brandy

sauce & toasted oats

White and Dark Crêpe Chocolat

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Just read on The Kitchen Rat that Tom Aikens is opening another restaurant on Cale Street (the same street as Tom's Kitchen).  According to the site:

"it's going to be an upmarket fish restaurant with a very strong eco-friendly element... so sustainable sourcing, packaging and environmentally friendly design"

Apparently it will have a take-away area as well!  Looks like Tom is taking over Chelsea!

Tom Aikens - the new Jean Christophe Novelli?

an excellent analogy I fear.

A meal without wine is... well, erm, what is that like?

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Lasagne Novelli with a creamy camembert béchamel sauce

I know a lot of lonely housewives find Jc "tatsy" but this is surely taking things too far? :wink:

Edited by nikkib (log)

"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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<sigh> yes I am very much in two minds about Tom Aikens and his burgeoning empire.

The comparison with JCN is very apt. There is a feeling of someone trying to run- on the empire building front (also cf Richard Neat) before they can walk.

I have always been a fan of Tom Aikens cuisine, but his book to be frank was mediocre (and had a heavily ghost-written feel, though none was attributed) and what I hear of Tom's Kitchen simply fails to excite me. My gut feeling is he should knuckle down and at least win back his two stars before moving on and trying to take over the world.

Having said that its clearly too early to write off his no doubt immense talent. Heaven knows London needs more decent decent fish restaurants. For my part I hope Tom does end up as the next Christian Constant rather than the next Jean-Christophe Novelli. I just hope he has good business advisors (viz Gordon Ramsay and his father-in-law) and an understanding bank manager.

J

Edited by Jon Tseng (log)
More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!
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<sigh> yes I am very much in two minds about Tom Aikens and his burgeoning empire.

The comparison with JCN is very apt.  There is a feeling of someone trying to run- on the empire building front (also cf Richard Neat) before they can walk.

What do you mean 'before he can walk'? Aikens has been around long enough to know what he's doing, and he doesn't need to top Restaurant Magazine's 50 Best, or get a third Michelin star before he opens another joint. As you say, London could do with something like this. Better Aikens than MPW, Ramsay, or Conran.

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<sigh> yes I am very much in two minds about Tom Aikens and his burgeoning empire.

The comparison with JCN is very apt.  There is a feeling of someone trying to run- on the empire building front (also cf Richard Neat) before they can walk.

What do you mean 'before he can walk'? Aikens has been around long enough to know what he's doing, and he doesn't need to top Restaurant Magazine's 50 Best, or get a third Michelin star before he opens another joint. As you say, London could do with something like this. Better Aikens than MPW, Ramsay, or Conran.

Or even a second michelin star for that matter... :wink:

"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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What do you mean 'before he can walk'? Aikens has been around long enough to know what he's doing, and he doesn't need to top Restaurant Magazine's 50 Best, or get a third Michelin star before he opens another joint. As you say, London could do with something like this. Better Aikens than MPW, Ramsay, or Conran.

Mate

You are failing to make the distinction between running a kitchen and managing the business. I have no doubt that Aikens knows what he is doing in the kitchen. As you will have read, I have every respect for his cuisine. However moving on to take over a business empire is an altogether different step up. Experience shows that the chefs who have been successful at making that step are invariably the ones who are least well-established **, and preferably ***.

Off the top of my head:

Empire-builders who have succeeded:

*** Gordon Ramsay (ad infinitum)

*** Paul Bocuse (viz his chain of geographically orientated brasseries across Lyon)

*** Alain Ducasse (obviously)

*** Marco Pierre White (possibly - a debatable one I admit)

** Christian Constant (clearly a very firmly established ** from his time at Les Ambassadeurs)

Empire-builders who failed:

** Nico Ladenis (Reading and London was a bridge too far)

* Richard Neat (Cannes and Oxo Tower)

* Jean-Christophe Novelli (the Leeds Utd of the restaurant world)

I suspect the difference is those operating at the *** have an established operating, infrastructure and support network (Gordon Ramsay restaurant holdings is a shining example). They also have bigger brand and on average much deeper experience. In contrast those who chance it from a * or ** are more often single operators who don't have that backing. And believe me if you are trying to run two or three operations whilst still keeping up standards at the flagship, you're going to need that support.

I would not put Tom Aikens into the former category. He had two stars at Pied a Terre and is making a good fist of winning them back, but I feel for all his brilliance the consistency is not quite there. My concern is the distraction of his new empire will only detract from that.

But again good luck to the guy. He's got all the bits to make it work, he just needs to put them together right.

J

Edited by Jon Tseng (log)
More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!
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Nico Ladenis had 3 stars, Richard Neat 2 :raz:

No that came later. Nico's *** were when he was at the Grosvenor House.

I'm talking about the mid-eighties when he had ** in London (I think Lordship Lane, but it could have been Rochester Row) and tried to ship out to Reading.

At the same time I think he help running some of the previous establishments as Simply Nicos or thereabouts. But the whole empire-building thing never worked. Eventually he sold out entirely (although bizarrely they kept the Simply Nico brand name... I still remember one up Clerkenwell/Barbican way int he late nineties) and in time retrenched back to London, and the glory that was Chez Nico at Ninety.

Richard Neat I am thinking of when he had * at Neat in Cannes (yes he did previously have ** at Pied a Terre) and then tried to migrate that back to London. I think he said he was going to be commuting madly between Oxo Tower and Cannes but again without the support it never really worked out (did Neat at Oxo ever get its * before it closed? can't remember).

J

PS yes Aikens retained the ** Richard Neat had, but I always think its a bit tough to deny him the honour of retaining them. Similar logic to whether Alain Roux has inherited his *** at the Waterside and Phillippe Rochat has inherited his from Girardet. Can argue about this til cows come home.

Edited by Jon Tseng (log)
More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!
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Nico Ladenis had 3 stars, Richard Neat 2 :raz:

No that came later. Nico's *** were when he was at the Grosvenor House.

I'm talking about the mid-eighties when he had ** in London (I think Lordship Lane, but it could have been Rochester Row) and tried to ship out to Reading.

At the same time I think he help running some of the previous establishments as Simply Nicos or thereabouts. But the whole empire-building thing never worked. Eventually he sold out entirely (although bizarrely they kept the Simply Nico brand name... I still remember one up Clerkenwell/Barbican way int he late nineties) and in time retrenched back to London, and the glory that was Chez Nico at Ninety.

Richard Neat I am thinking of when he had * at Neat in Cannes (yes he did previously have ** at Pied a Terre) and then tried to migrate that back to London. I think he said he was going to be commuting madly between Oxo Tower and Cannes but again without the support it never really worked out (did Neat at Oxo ever get its * before it closed? can't remember).

J

PS yes Aikens retained the ** Richard Neat had, but I always think its a bit tough to deny him the honour of retaining them. Similar logic to whether Alain Roux has inherited his *** at the Waterside and Phillippe Rochat has inherited his from Girardet. Can argue about this til cows come home.

I agree he did retain them but he still would of been inspected, probably more closely the year he took over so i dont think you can take them away from him

Where as i think at winteringham fields when the young lad took over the 2 stars they did take one away from him

On the Tom Aikens subject i eaten there five times since it opened and the first meal blew me away about 2 months after it opened and since then then they have got worst and worst!!!

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Mate

You are failing to make the distinction between running a kitchen and managing the business.  I have no doubt that Aikens knows what he is doing in the kitchen.

I would have thought running a successful London Restaurant was synonymous with managing a business.

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