Slacking off under the guise of informality
Toms Kitchen is the informal counterpart to Tom Aikens eponymous Michelin starred restaurant. It is awkwardly positioned just beyond the reach of both South Kensington and Sloane Square, which means it must please that much more.
The menu is a hum-drum affair of tired liver parfait and homogeneous crab cake, as if informal dining must be tedious and unchallenging. As very little in the starter section is actually worth the calorie intake, salads will have to do. Unsurprisingly, the beetroot variety is composed of featureless greens covered in a beetroot juice. Actual pieces of beetroot are marginalised, whilst the goats curd is even less visible. A Roquefort salad is considerably better, with jenga-layered endive leaves coated in a gloriously rich cheese, punctuated with the crunch of bitter walnut.
The next course of 7 hour confit shoulder of lamb is meant to be shared between two people, but is more than enough for three. Texturally, the meat is superb – falling off the bone in generous slabs. The taste is disappointing, being far too tangy from the balsamic and red wine input. I find myself, for once, craving the more traditional garlic and rosemary warmth, lamenting at its absence.
Sides of mashed potato are cotton soft and made for soaking up flavour. Triple cooked chips are thick cut and imbibed with pungent truffle oil. Their shells are the definition of crunch, and cover impossibly soft cores. Toms Kitchen knows how to caress the best out of a humble spud, no doubt about it. A Chelsea garden cocktail is grassy-green fresh and lively with elderflower and gin.
Service is actually incredibly bad, and an unmanned reception means a long wait to be greeted. The downstairs dining area is butcher shop meets cattle market, with sterile white tiled walls and piddling amounts of space per person. I have little doubt that I won’t be going out of my way to return. Average price is £55 per person.
Tube: South Kensington