As we walked in the door of Tom Aikens Restaurant we were greeted by a rather friendly and smiley girl who showed us to our table.
What a beautiful restaurant. Spotlights shine onto each table yet don’t make you feel like you’re on stage at the Palladium. The rest of the restaurant feels dark and sexy. The waiters adorn a rather casual collection of outfits that look like they have been meticulously designed for the new look. This is what I imagine Nordic chic to look like. It has the ability to be casual and relaxed yet at the same time feel exclusive. As we peered out of the window, there were three chauffeur driven Mercedes parked outside giving the restaurant a feeling of wealth.
My gentleman companion and I decided to go for an 8 course tasting menu priced at a wallet emptying £75.
Very friendly staff bring out canapés, three types of butter, a good selection of bread and an amuse bouche (topped with grated truffle) which all looked stunning and matched in flavour. There’s already a feeling of ‘no expense spared’ here.
Our first course was beetroot fondant, goat’s curd, Regent’s Park honey and blackberries. As we came to realise with every single dish, it looked beautiful. The honey was like nothing I’ve ever eaten before. The sweetness from the honeycomb cut through the sharpness of the goats curd and blackberry. The whole dish left your palate feeling cleansed and refreshed.
Pigeon consommé, truffle custard and vegetable granules was a rather intriguing dish. A minuscule slice of pigeon breast sits on a plate next to piles of flavoured granules until the consommé is poured over and it all mixes together. I couldn’t really taste each individual ingredient but together it was a thing of rich gamey beauty. A more generous portion of pigeon would have gone down a treat though.
Marinated hand dived scallop, apple vinegar, lardo crudo and acidulated apple was next up. This dish looked like it had been taken from a leafy garden. Sadly I couldn’t taste the scallop at all and the only flavour I could taste was the apple. This however acted as a sort of palate cleanser and wasn’t un-enjoyable.
Braised and poached leeks, whey, marjoram and foie gras crumbs was the dish I was looking forward to the least due to the absence of meat. The roots were deep fried and placed on top which made for an usual crunchy and chewey treat. This dish was very pleasant but the addition of a meaty rib-eye steak would have gone down well.
Chorizo baked cod, 24 hour squid and cod soup was a stand out dish. The chorizo didn’t overpower the squid or the perfectly baked piece of fish. The crispy skin of the cod was removed from the fillet and placed on top. I would happily eat this dish every day.
The piglet with roast gem, pineapple fondant, sage and caramelised squid was so delicious. The pork cooked rare and on the bone was the nicest bit of pork I have ever had. There was a little deep fried battered courgette which added texture to the dish.
A cheese course followed which the waiter chooses on your behalf. I have never had cheese served with such an impressive array of different breads and condiments. Four delicious chutneys are served in their own pot and each bread is different in flavour and texture. I felt like a mouse in a cheese factory and I was eating myself to a cheese induced heart attack. Death by fromage, what a way to go.
After all this food the thought of a rich chocolate fondant or suchlike would fill me with dread. So cleverly the final course is carrot granite, sauternes, carrot juice, pickled carrots and toasted seeds. This is by far the most beautiful plate of food I have ever seen. A light, fresh yet sweet dessert, this is clever cooking. Each individual element works perfectly together. The little pile of sponge tastes like it has been taken from the best carrot cake in the world. This dessert made me want to stand on my chair and sing with excitement.
If you felt like you’d been cheated out of something chocolatey then panic not as the petit fours (a course in their own) arrive in a retro tin. The amount you get for your money in this place is superb. The waiter managed to list every single item in the tin for which we nearly gave him a standing ovation. Out of about 20 different petit fours the only one we didn’t enjoy was the orange peel dipped in chocolate. It was so bitter that it left an unsavoury taste in your mouth. Other than that, I could honestly say they were the best selection of petit fours I have ever had.