At this year’s Great British Menu Tom Aikens’ food looked amazing, and seeing his fellow chefs admire his dedication and his skills was impressive. When I had the pleasure to see Midsummer chef again and heard his stories about this year’s experience on GBM, I decided it was about time to try Tom’s food at his Michelin star Chelsea outpost.
Booked over a month in advance, suddenly the time had come. Tired and still off from my long mysterious wintry bug, I almost cancelled. Glad I did not. We had, overall, a great meal. We did not go for the tasting menu and chose a la carte, which offers a wide enough choice to please even fussy @bmcboy.
Every dish we had, from the amuse bouche to the (incredible) petit fours, was so beautifully presented, it felt wrong to actually eat them! Attention to detail in each element of each dish that arrived to our table was amazing. Amongst the amuse bouche, the pea and mint soup served in egg shells on the birds’ nest(from the GBM) was the highlight for me, a chilled burst of minty flavor, a visually striking ensemble.
|Chelsea in Bloom starter|
I took the opportunity to try one of the Chelsea in Bloom dishes, which Tom developed for the Chelsea Flower Show. My starter of Loch Duart Salmon and orange marinadewas light and citrusy – I still feel a bit strange eating flowers but I was eating into a palette of summer colours and summer flavours.
My main was the opposite – Beef short rib and beefs ‘bits’ (brisket, tongue, marrow) densely cooked with potato puree filled shallots and crispy brisket, textures of various degrees of softness with the crunch of the brisket, a palette of wintry brown and deep dark reds on the plate and intense meaty flavours on the palate. @bmcboy opted for cod, another stunning ensemble with foam, which amused him, of course.
I decided to even have a dessert, actually we both had a full one (rather than sharing one as we do often, much to his displeasure of course).
His seasonal dish of Wild Strawberrywas another one of these dishes you don’t actually want to eat, it was so handsomely laid on the plate, with whites and red, so many textures (sorbet, fresh fruit, dry fruit).
Mine, simply called Milk, was just what is said – a milky blend of once again various degrees of textures and temperature, with vanilla hints and not too sweet flavours, it was light and delicious.
Was it over? No, of course. I knew we’d get some petit fours. I just didn’t expect the variety and the quality of what arrived! A pretty vintage Oxo cube box with plenty of small, different pieces… a rose flower taste on a thin sliver of crunchy pastry, a tiny chewy macaroon, a Florentine, chocolates layers, two fluffy cinnamon donut (when was the last time I ate a whole donut on my own?), a chocolate truffle ice cream, a lemon meringue lollipop, an olive oil jelly drop. Absolutely beautiful, possibly the best petit fours (petit?) I have had in recent years.
The service was great, very friendly front of house, and expert sommelier (we loved a bottle of Muscadet Fief du Breil 2010), a modern dining room, a repeat visit is on the cards.
Tom Aikens Restaurant
43 Elystan St London SW3 3NT