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Restaurant Tom Aikens


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It's the speed at which the third restaurant has been announced which prompted my JC comparison, especially given that Tom's Kitchen was far from bedded in when I ate there in December. Maybe the last month or so has made all the difference.

could it be to do with the location? I imagine leases on appropriate sites don't come up that often. Maybe they saw an unexpected opportunity and grabbed it. I know from my own experience that things don't always happen at the perfect time for the grand plan so maybe it was sooner than hoped. I am speculating of course.

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* Nigel Haworth: Northcote,Three Fishes and new venture The Highway Man Tunstall.

* Richard Corrigan: Lindsay House, Bentleys and The Mill Restaurant.

No *'s Anthony Flinn: Anthony's, Anthony's at Flannels and Anthony's Patisserie.

Although arguable the quality of Corrigan's flaship has suffered from the diversification. I had a pleasant firm * meal last time I was there but I hear mixed reports. It certainly has not moved forward.

Also consider Heathcotes (now the Longridge Restaurant) which has gone from ** to zero stars during a period of empire building (although I think they did consciously try to simplify the focus too a couple of years ago, if I recall)

J

More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!
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It's the speed at which the third restaurant has been announced which prompted my JC comparison, especially given that Tom's Kitchen was far from bedded in when I ate there in December. Maybe the last month or so has made all the difference.

could it be to do with the location? I imagine leases on appropriate sites don't come up that often. Maybe they saw an unexpected opportunity and grabbed it. I know from my own experience that things don't always happen at the perfect time for the grand plan so maybe it was sooner than hoped. I am speculating of course.

Along the same lines. Investors tend to be rather impatient types in my experience as well. So it could well be that they're interest will only be held whilst TA is seen as "hot", hence the hurry up.

Otherwise you risk being a one hit wonder.(Which quite possibly doesn't make much profit :wacko: )

I

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Isn't the issue whether he's opening restaurants that are serving food that people want to eat at a price they're willing to pay? His name may bring them in the door - but if he's not doing the former - whether the places are high end - middle of the road - or low end - he'll have a problem. In any event - I had an excellent meal at Tom Aikens last time I was in London - enjoyed meeting Chef Aikens - and wish him good luck.

BTW - in terms of "empires" - you forgot Georges Blanc - who didn't so much build a "food empire" as a "food town". Robyn

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  • 1 month later...

First – I’m a big fan of Tom Aikens restaurant – I adore his food. Even when it doesn’t quite work it’s usually surprising& inventive and certainly never pedestrian.

Went to Tom’s Kitchen today for lunch. First impression was that it wasn’t nearly as stark as I was expecting – from pictures I’d seen it comes over being extremely white and bare – but actually the design is quite welcoming. OK, the tables are perhaps a little too close together and there a lots of hard surfaces which don’t absorb much of the noise – but for a something akin to a gastro pub it was fine.

It was also packed.

I was really looking for to this – regularly affordably TA food. Wow, what a disappointment. They don’t do lunch on Saturdays - just brunch. Frankly, I haven’t come ½ way across London for a fu*king muffin. I don’t care how good TA & his bro are a muffin is just fu*king muffin; and a Full English is just a Full English. In my disgust & haste I chose the sausages & mash but couldn’t face finishing the dish – mash was just plain wrong – way too refined. My partner’s burger was burnt & tiny. Two portions of bread were 6 of the smallest slices I’ve ever see. And although the thick chips that came with the burger looked great – they were very greasy – I guess they used the wrong type of potatoes.

OK – we chose wrong – but couldn’t really build up any enthusiasm to try & find out if there were any real gems in the menu.

When we were paying our waiter almost fell over when we said “no” to – was everything OK. He almost fainted when my partner pointed out that we thought Tom was just trading on his name.

Please, please someone tell me they’ve had “proper” lunch/dinner there & it was great.

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Please, please someone tell me they’ve had “proper” lunch/dinner there & it was great.

Yes (I've had lunch there several times), and yes, it's been great each time. Your partner must have been unlucky with the burger (or I must have been lucky) as mine was great (as were the chips) - I did have it rare though. I would be surprised if it was as consistently packed as it is if many people had the problems you experienced.

Not sure if that makes you feel better or worse... sorry.

Also, to be fair to them, the website does say that lunch is Monday to Friday and it's brunch on Saturday.

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Please, please someone tell me they’ve had “proper” lunch/dinner there & it was great.

I've had a proper dinner there and it was bloody lovely - sounds like they're still figuring out Saturday brunch. Try early evening, early in the week - might help.

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I've had a proper lunch - and it was acceptable. Butter was a over-cultured so it had that unsalted very cheesy slightly rancid quality. Lucky for us they used this in the liver parfait, imparting a - mmm - unsalted very cheesy slightly rancid quality. Otherwise, dishes were fine. Good charcuterie. You could taste the aging in the steak - nothing exceptional in meat quality, but acceptable. The burger, on the other hand, although cooked accurately (med-rare) felt like it came from a poorly trimmed piece of meat; i.e. aged four to six weeks (or however long they do) and then trimmed back, removing (not enough of) the rancid fat and mold. It ended up tasting a little 'high,' which is not what I want in a burger. Chips were perfect. As good as the Hinds Head. Desserts were excellent. Some flaming thing with meringue brought to the table in a copper oval pan. Forget the name.

Sunday lunch I had a 'slow roasted pork' which apparently was characterized by it not being roasted particularly slowly. The collagen hadn't even started to break down. Left the meat feeling a bit gummy. Chips less good than before.

Edited by MobyP (log)

"Gimme a pig's foot, and a bottle of beer..." Bessie Smith

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  • 8 months later...
Has anyone been to TA restaurant recently?  I notice he has a lot of plates in the air - even a counter at selfridges!  Am looking for a nice dinner and we still haven't managed to go here so wondering if we should book it up or go to Hibiscus instead...

I went in August for dinner and had the tasting menu. I have to say I have always been impressed with my meals there, but this one was distinctly unimpressive. The amuses, canapes and petit fours, oh and the crazy pre-deserts were about the best things we had, them and the cheese board! It could well be that it was because Tom was away on honeymoon, but the dishes were rather dull and uninspiring. One thing that really surprised me was that on 3 of the plates the same garnish was used in the same way which to me is just lazy (especially when it was such an easy garnish to prepare!) Another surprise was that the same plates were used for all the courses bar the canapes etc. I can only describe the plates as simple white side plates - very dull and tiny! On 3 of the dishes the components were actually spilling off the plate as they were'nt big enough.

All in all it was still an ok meal, but nothing really inspiring as it has been in the past. I would say it is probably still worth going though, as from past experience this certainly seems to be out of character for the restaurant.

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

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Has anyone been to TA restaurant recently?   I notice he has a lot of plates in the air - even a counter at selfridges!  Am looking for a nice dinner and we still haven't managed to go here so wondering if we should book it up or go to Hibiscus instead...

I went in August for dinner and had the tasting menu. I have to say I have always been impressed with my meals there, but this one was distinctly unimpressive. The amuses, canapes and petit fours, oh and the crazy pre-deserts were about the best things we had, them and the cheese board! It could well be that it was because Tom was away on honeymoon, but the dishes were rather dull and uninspiring. One thing that really surprised me was that on 3 of the plates the same garnish was used in the same way which to me is just lazy (especially when it was such an easy garnish to prepare!) Another surprise was that the same plates were used for all the courses bar the canapes etc. I can only describe the plates as simple white side plates - very dull and tiny! On 3 of the dishes the components were actually spilling off the plate as they were'nt big enough.

All in all it was still an ok meal, but nothing really inspiring as it has been in the past. I would say it is probably still worth going though, as from past experience this certainly seems to be out of character for the restaurant.

thanks for the info Ravelda

I think I will err on the side of caution - we haven't been to Petrus either so I've booked for dinner in Feb (well the top of the waitlist they tell me)

By the way if the economy is slowing down it ain't happening in London. I know I am a nobody in the restaurant world but Gordon Bennett!

It was truly impossible trying to get a booking at a high end restaurant and I am pretty flexible on timing. I would have thought Jan/Feb was a slow time. That said maybe I am exagerrating. I am still exhausted from the 5 hours it took me to get through to the Fat Duck (to no avail of course) Not that I am complaining I am happy for their success - just wish I had a PA :blink:

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Another surprise was that the same plates were used for all the courses bar the canapes etc.  I can only describe the plates as simple white side plates - very dull and tiny!  On 3 of the dishes the components were actually spilling off the plate as they were'nt big enough.

That's certainly not typical in my experience - Classic menu on the 19th of December was excellent and every course was on a different type / shape of plate. I (very much) enjoyed my meal at Petrus this year but every meal I've had at Tom Aikens has been better than that one.

That having been said, I don't think the tasting menu concept suits Tom as well as ALC (or the excellent value lunch menu). His multi-element style seems to suit the "bigger canvas" afforded by a 3 course meal - the tasting menus either force him to pare down or to try to cram the elements in - both of which can be less than completely successful.

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  • 1 month later...

In reply to the starter on this topic "Tom Aikens, is he the best", the answer IMHO is no, not now. Maybe when he was @ Pied a Terre.

Had a meal there in December 07 and to say it was mediocre is being kind, cost nearly £600 for 2

The full review can be read here: Dinner reviews along with the signed menu now up for sale on eBay.co.uk

For when a relief chef needn't cost the earth, reliefchef.org

Also on twitter@reliefchef_org

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  • 3 months later...

I wanted to make a reservation at TA and got an email back telling me they do have a table, but only for 2 hours & a half (6.45PM-9.15PM). I usually like being able to take my time to fully appreciate a good dinner: isn't this a bit short to get through a full menu at Aikens? We sometimes spend something like 4 hours for a meal...

Has anyone been here recently on dinner and felt rushed out of the dining room?

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I wanted to make a reservation at TA and got an email back telling me they do have a table, but only for 2 hours & a half (6.45PM-9.15PM). I usually like being able to take my time to fully appreciate a good dinner: isn't this a bit short to get through a full menu at Aikens? We sometimes spend something like 4 hours for a meal...

Has anyone been here recently on dinner and felt rushed out of the dining room?

I assume somebody else has booked that table from 9:30pm and they are offering it to you until then (and are otherwise full). How far in advance is the booking and what evening?

Time-wise, it's probably enough if you're going a la carte, but not enough for the tasting menu.

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I assume somebody else has booked that table from 9:30pm and they are offering it to you until then (and are otherwise full). How far in advance is the booking and what evening?

Time-wise, it's probably enough if you're going a la carte, but not enough for the tasting menu.

It's for the 27th of this month, which is a Friday, so yes, it's probably on short notice... I guess I'll try it next time!

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I guess Tom Aikens has been 100% discovered (it was still quite new when we dined there in 2004 - not even full on a weekday night).

And good grief - 600 pounds - almost $1200 - for 2 - we didn't pay anything like that. Did that dinner include at least a bottle or two of "big" wine?

Anyway - assuming the restaurant is worth what it costs now - I recommend my usual routine - either dinner on a weekday - or - in the case of an impossible dinner reservation - lunch (don't know if they serve lunch). We had a lovely lunch at Gordon Ramsay RHR (impossible dinner reservation) on our last trip. Robyn

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I guess Tom Aikens has been 100% discovered (it was still quite new when we dined there in 2004 - not even full on a weekday night).

on the basis he was one of the youngest (if not 'the') to gain 2* and then blow it all by branding a colleague with a palette knife (alledgedly?) his comeback in 04 was one of the most anticipated of the year , not quite undiscovered !

you don't win friends with salad

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  • 2 years later...

I ate at Tom's Kitchen at Somerset House last night. It was a soft opening as official opening is on 1 September: 25% was knocked off the price. We had the confit lamb for 2 with balsamic onions and mustard mash. The lamb was faultless, as was the rich gravy and the spinach - the meat came in a huge le Creuset dish, and a spoon and fork were provided for us to serve ourselves. [Luckily I wasn't wearing anythng special, as it did splash.] The onions were far too vinegary though - I can't believe it was balsamic they used: whatever it was needed cooking a lot longer: it was just too sharp and overpowering. None of the puddings appealed - they were all too rich and claggy - we wanted something fruity.

The service was good - friendly and helpful - there weren't many of us to serve, obviously. Would I go back? Possibly - if I were not paying. The mains were 'reasonable-for-London' prices, and the quantity of lamb was embarrassingly big: it was the extras where the prices were high - £5 for a tiny dish of spinach - £4 for a tiny pot of mint/lemon tea.

I had earlier had a coffee and an almond biscuit at Tom's Deli - lovely biscuit/awful coffee - a huge cup of dishwater-thin 'filter' coffee. Again service was charming. Those prices weren't too bad. Very silly benches - 3 stools sort of stitched together, so very difficult to move - but they looked great.

The Terrace at SH also belongs to Tom, and in a monsoon-like rain storm looked fun, though the band was very loud

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  • 1 year later...

I,ve had some fun reading though this thread and its great for its historical value. It needed resurrecting.

Thing is, its been dead for nearly four years (not including PoppySeedBagel's Tom's Kitchen review).

Has nobody been since then?

He's just re-opened after a compleat top to toe refit and had some pretty decent reviews, not least from AA Gill. I only read a few lines of the review, the important ones about the food. I don't like the Times paywall, end of.

Collectively the reviews so far have made me want to eat his food again. So we are going to give it a try.

Anyone else on here been? I would be interested to here what you think.

"So many places, so little time"

http://londoncalling...blogspot.co.uk/

@d_goodfellow1

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I think for many people his choice to go for a pre-pack bankruptcy and screw over many loyal suppliers leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

Greater love hath no man than he may lay down his friends for his life, and all that.

I for one have no interested in lending such a person my custom. I urge people to do likewise.

J

Edited by Jon Tseng (log)
More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!
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I think for many people his choice to go for a pre-pack bankruptcy and screw over many loyal suppliers leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

Greater love hath no man than he may lay down his friends for his life, and all that.

I for one have no interested in lending such a person my custom. I urge people to do likewise.

J

And for the same reason as above, I'm out too.

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