You might know the name Tom Aitkins from top cookery programmes such as Saturday Kitchen and Great British Menu, on which this Michelin-starred chef has excelled and created several dishes that have made him a household name.
I first visited his brasserie Tom’s Kitchen, in Chelsea back in 2011, when I was treated to a wonderful Brunch for my 22nd birthday. The restaurant itself is buzzing – with all tables full with people excited to try the uncomplicated but well executed menu. The decor is refreshing – very bright, with white marble bar tops and mirrors lining the feature wall – it looks expensive and chic but not pretentious at all, which is impressive considering the expensive postcode and famous name above the door. Still dreaming of the incredible dishes I enjoyed that day, I revisited the second of Tom’s brasseries at Somerset House early last year, again to enjoy the fantastic brunch they serve from 12.30am until 3.30pm every Saturday and Sunday. The menu allows guests to choose from a delicious selection of fresh pancakes and waffles, eggs of any variety, or what has been one of my favourite meals in London, the Chicken Liver and Foie Gras parfait served with shallot chutney and brioche. At £12.50 per portion it is an expensive brunch treat, but it’s filling, and the taste is fantastic, rich and indulgent – the parfait itself is creamy and very rich in foie gras flavour, and garnished with a few grains of sea salt. When the parfait, the side of mini gherkins and the sweet chutney are all combined and pasted on top of a slice of their fresh, soft toasted brioche, it makes a heavenly mouthful – a great weekend treat, and sometimes exactly what you’re looking for after a big night out. The atmosphere at the Somerset House brasserie isn’t as vibrant as the Chelsea based brasserie, and the decor not as impressive or inviting, but the food is equally enjoyable.
A friend of mine works for at the Canary Wharf branch of Tom’s Kitchen which opened it’s doors back in June 2013, and so we decided that we should take a trip very East to visit her and the newly opened restaurant. This time we had the opportunity to try the a la carte menu, and by extension, the opportunity to test out their puddings. I couldn’t help but order the Chicken Liver & Foie Gras Parfait again (I know what I love) as well as a side of their well seasoned chunky truffle chips with parmesan (£4.50) but when it came to puddings I was open to a recommendation – the Chocolate Pot and the Cheesecake came highly recommended, but for me, I felt I needed to try the impressive looking Baked Alaska (£12.50) – a dessert i’d never tried before. Well, I think it’s safe to say that this marshmallowy, alcoholic, hot and cold dessert has managed to debut itself in my top 5 favourite puddings of all time. This large sharing dessert has a topping of soft, creamy and sweet marshmallow, an inside of fresh and fruity raspberry ripple ice-cream, and a drizzling of a very strong alcohol that is set alight (whiskey or cognac) that sent a warm rush through my body. I have since tried Baked Alaska’s in other restaurants, including The Ivy in Covent Garden, and I must say that none seems to compare to this brilliant dessert – I still think about it a several months on!