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Toms Kitchen – Somerset House Review

Last week my Fiancée and I were shouted dinner by some old friends (to celebrate our engagement). They had asked us to pick the restaurant and we had given them a few (wallet friendly) choices. They decided that we were selling ourselves short and booked us at Tom Aikens Kitchen at Somerset House. Aikens empire is rapidly expanding out from his two starred self titled eatery in Chelsea and I was excited to finally get a chance to try some of his cuisine.

Initially we had planned to sit outside at the ‘Terrace’ thinking it had the same menu at the ‘Kitchen’. It doesn’t though, the outdoors menu consists of grazing food (shared platters) and burgers. So we luckily secured a table at a booth inside. The restaurant’s decor and layout is nothing spectacular, it is split over three long rooms and has a mish mash of styles. The booth we were in however, was comfortable.

We were waiting for my Fiancée, who managed to get lost (it is fairly difficult to find the restaurant, you need to walk all the way through Somerset House’s courtyard) we ordered some Martini’s which were very well made and a great start to the evening. Once she finally found us we were all starving and knew exactly what we wanted. I ordered the Baked Scallops, Garlic, Lemon and Thyme Butter (£12.50), my Fiancée got the Pan Fried Foie Gras, Clarence Court duck egg, Ventreche bacon (£15.90) and the rest of our table ordered the Spicy Crab Cake With Tomato Salsa (£8.50).  The fois was the star of the starters by a long shot, a fantastic combo of pan seared fois gras,  fried quails egg and panchetta, a delightful and decadent play on bacon and eggs.  It was absolutely delicious (I wanted more than two mouthfulls), but could be a little greasy if you don’t like that (we do!). My scallops were OK, served in the shell with a garlicky butter infused with Thyme. The Scallops were well cooked but could have done with a bit more of a sear, I love seeing a deep caramelization on scallops. I didn’t try the crab cakes but once everyone had tried the fois we all wanted to re-order!

The mains at Toms Kitchen are quite simple, rustic fair. With choices of line caught cod and chips, a selection of steaks, shepherds pie and bangers and mash. My eye however was firmly set on one of Mr Aiken signature dishes the Organic 7 Hour Confit Lamb (for 2) Balsamic Onions and Mash (£22.50 per person) which I decided to share with one of our hosts. My Fiancée opted for the Roast Brill, Braised Endive, Orange (£20.00). Aiken’s makes a lot of noise about only sourcing seasonal, local fish from reputable sources so she was interested to sample this Scottish delicacy. We also ordered a bottle of 2005 SixFootSix Shiraz, Geelong, Australia (£29.00). The service throughout our meal was fairly poor, with a young, inexperienced waiter who didn’t know the menu very well. He actually brought us the wrong bottle of wine (a South African) nobody noticed but me though and I decided not to say anything as it tasted fine. The lamb arrived in a large cooking dish with two large scoops of mash. The lamb itself was very tender, falling of the bone with lovely sweet roasted onions and a to-die-for sauce. The mash could have been creamier but was perfect to soak up the lamb. Even for two people the serving was massive, almost enough for three hungry people! My fiancées brill was a very rich fish dish and went well with the orange, but was a little on the sweet side. The endives (chicory) added a smokiness but the dish could have done with some more acidity.

After all that lamb I was not going to order desert but our (American) host insisted we all share a Baked Alaska!!! After a wait of ten minutes our waiter returned to tell us something about the pastry chef not being able to complete the alaska? We weren’t really sure what we had said but our alaska was not coming, to be honest I wasn’t that dissapointed!

Overall we ate well at  Toms Kitchen at Somerset House, the service wasn’t amazing but I think this was more the case of being unlucky with the waiter on the day. I wouldn’t go back to order burgers or fish and chips  but the fois and pancetta and amazing lamb definitely make it worth a visit.

7/10

Review by Mise En Place Hospitality Recruitment

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