RESTAURANT REVIEW: Tom Aikens, Chelsea
I’m just a normal guy that loves food, and it just so happens that one day I decided to write about my experiences. I’m no trained chef, I’m not a fantastic cook, but when it comes to eating, that’s where I come into my own. However, there are some occasions where I feel a bit… underqualified. Known for his distinctive take on French cuisine, unconventional presentation, and an appearance on Channel 4’s Iron Chef UK giving him minor celebrity status; Tom Aikens is a god of the culinary world. And there’s little old me standing here starry eyed in the reception of this great man’s self-titled Michelin star restaurant in Chelsea with a brief to critique his life work? #Gulp
We take our seats on a rather grand oak table and I’m greeted with a wine list that is so large that it comes in a hardback book. Of course, I would expect nothing less from a man who practically grew up on his family’s vineyard in Auvergne. Looking through the a la carte menu, I salivate at the variety on offer that includes ricotta, venison, partridge, John Dory fish, and all kinds of delicious treats.
Before I can decide on what to order, our waiter brings out a host of entrees to whet the appetite, all cleverly presented on tree bark to fit the restaurant theme. For starters, I go for the baked scallop on a bed of Osso Buco and yeasted potatoes. Undoubtedly the most unusual scallop dish I’ve had, and was also one of the tastiest. The veal brought out flavours I never knew existed, and although I’m not a great lover of scallops, I would order it again and again.
If starters were impressive, mains exceeded even my wildest expectations. Beef short rib is one of my staple selections when it comes to fine dining, but never have I had a rib as tender or flavoursome as what I experienced. In fact, it’s so good it sends me into rapturous applause, and no one bats an eyelid as they are equally in awe at their plates.
For dessert, I choose the dish simply called ‘Apple’. It consists of apple jelly, apple bubbles, an assortment of nondescript apple flavoured bits and bobs, and a crispy cinnamon treat on the side for good measure. I really didn’t know where to begin, so decided to put everything in at once for an overload of apple goodness. My favourite part? The apple bubbles were a thing of beauty, and having spent much of my early life trying to eat fairy liquid bubbles, these were a vast improvement.
It may seem like I’m over exaggerating (and I pride myself on giving honest feedback in my reviews) but I really can’t say anything critical about the meal or service received. It’s easy to see why Tom Aikens has received such acclaim and that all important Michelin star. At the end of our meal, Tom comes out to say hi and I nearly stumble over my tongue in a feeble attempt at trying to thank him for such a culinary masterclass. Puts the fine in ‘fine dining’.
Tom Aikens Restaurant, 43 Elystan St, SW3 3NT. Nearest Station: South Kensington.