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|Address:||43 Elystan Street, London SW3 3NT|
|Tel:||020 3641 8300|
|Price: £68.00||Wine: £24.00||Champagne: £60.00|
|Opening Hours:||Tues-Fri 12N-2.30pm Tues-Sat 6.45-10.45pm|
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
I hadn’t been to Tom Aikens for years, although I do recall the famous spoon incident, which I thought had happened in 2004 – clearly, from the most recent of reviews, the man has not relented in his desire to account for missing cutlery. All I can say is that this remains one of the finest restaurants in London: quite how it has failed to garner a second Michelin star is somewhat beyond me, as the food is amongst the best in London.
I should, perhaps, add a word on my rating of 10 for “value for money”; the four of us went in February, when the restaurant ran (or is running, depending on when you read this) a promotion for customers of Berry Brothers & Rudd who get to BYO with no corkage. Hence we were able to quaff a Schramsberg Reserve 2000 pink sparkler, a 1988 Leeuwin Estates Chardonnay (which, even though it was a Denis Horgan Reserve bottle, was a little tired), a glorious 1982 Caymus Special Reserve Cab and a very youthful Ridge Montebello 2002, for which the restaurant received not a bean. How good is that?
From the moment we arrived, bearing our wines, we were made to feel most welcome. We sat in the (tiny) bar area with a glass of Fino, the menus and some amuse bouche. These consisted of an intense olive reduction; a highly truffle infused warm duck jelly and a parmesan and polenta ball. The latter may not have been to the same standard as Angela Hartnett, but to criticise it for such would be unbecoming.
At the table, things continued as they had started: service was polite, discrete and nothing but friendly all evening. The breads, from mushroom fleur de lys to bacon brioche, were uniformly lovely.
Starters too were excellent. The pick was probably the scallops with beetroot: the plate looking like a Jackson Pollack (not in the rhyming slang way, I hasten to add), and the intense flavours of scallop, beetroot and roasted red onion went superbly together. The salad of mallard was another visually pleasing dish, delivering intensely flavoured meat amongst the greenery, with white carrot tubes (like mini cannelloni) filled with various delights. The langoustine risotto, with a base of pea and an egg on top, was a joy, if a tad over-salted, whilst the crispy pork belly in the lobster dish was a strong counterpoint to a very delicate lobster and apple consommé.
Mains too were all on top form, with the suckling pig for two meltingly sweet, with a good layer of crackling. I am a big fan of suckling pig; yes, I know that the poor dears don’t get a long life, but they do taste so good. If you are a baby porker lover too, go to Segovia in central Spain, about an hour north-west of Madrid. It is a magical town in its own right; the cathedral rising out of Spain’s plain like an ocean liner through the waves, but it is the home to suckling pig. They worship the porcine baby. There are statues of great chefs, plates in hand, ready to do battle with the beautifully roasted whole animal; these plates, by the way, are not to bare the pig to the table (no, the splayed little dears come to the table in tiny roasting tins), but, as the meat is so melting soft, to cut the animals up with.
I digress. The suckling pig was very good, and the artichoke (and more pig, this time in the form of Iberica ham) and fennel side dishes went very well with it. Our guests had no complaints over their red mullet and salt marsh lamb dishes, but next to the pig, they barely registered with me.
By this stage, we were flagging, so I am afraid that I cannot tell you what the deserts were like: the cheese trolley, however, was a joy. Not huge, but with a lingering aroma (which they maddeningly kept bringing by and then taking away so that some other lucky punter could get a whiff).
I’ll certainly be back, although I may again wait until Berry Brothers have their next corkage free BYO promotion.