Tom's Kitchen Chelsea might not be as swanky as its more refined counterpart round the corner, the Michelin starred Tom Aikens Restaurant, but it still packs a good culinary punch and does the reputation of one of the country's most talented chefs no harm at all.
Aiken's stock is pretty high at the moment as apart from getting a Michelin star for his flagship restaurant he was seen on the BBC earlier this year blazing a trail of glory in the Great British Menu, where he displayed his full range of culinary magic to great effect.
His brand is also growing with a third Tom's Kitchen to open at Westferry Circus in the heart of Canary Wharf at the end of June, there is also one at Somerset House, which will feature a 130 seater restaurant, bar and deli.
Tom's Kitchen is a buzzy modern neighbourhood brasserie in Chelsea's attractive Cale Street – only a 10 minute walk from South Kensington or Sloane Square –and has an imaginative seasonal menu which combines modern twists on traditional French food and some British favourites.
There is a relaxed and informal feel to the place as you walk in and your eye is immediately taken by the light and clean cut design typified by the wall to wall white brick tiles, grey and white marble topped bars, oak floors, chunky tables and chairs and a focal point open kitchen.
With 'farming' pictures adorning the walls you quickly get the ethos of Tom's Kitchen. It is, quite simply, to use the best seasonal and locally sourced ingredients wherever possible and the restaurant works with British suppliers and farmers that are passionate about growing as the chefs are about cooking. OK, so lots of restaurant's make such claims but this one did deliver on my visit with fresh, interesting well presented food to tingle the taste buds from the spring menu.
We settled down to enjoy the buzz of the place with refreshing cocktails of Lemon Daiquiri (rum, cointreau and lemon juice) and Raspberry Kiss (vodka, raspberries and pomegranite juice), both £9.50.
My beetroot marinated salmon (£12.10) was a melody of tastes and textures coming together on the plate with the bite of the pickled baby beets and deliciously smooth salmon a great combination lifted by a yummy dill and mustard sauce and other tasty additions including egg and gherkins.
Fiona’s spiced duck salad (£12.60) was spring-like and delicate.It delivered well seasoned oriental flavours with a combination of watercress, peanuts and crispy shallots leaving a warm lingering hint of spice on the palette well balanced by the refreshing water melon.
A main of Osso Bucco (£19.70) was as good as it gets for me with the perfectly cooked veal shank falling off the bone and melting in the mouth while the accompanying woody, deep flavoured wild mushroom ragout and peas was a triumph and left me wanting to lick my plate clean.
Pork belly (£18.70) is a staple on any brasserie menu and Fiona was left licking her lips with the sweet and succulent meat matched perfectly with earthy heritage carrots and a well seasoned carrot purée, this was simple yet great tasting comfort food. A well cooked side of buttered spinach (£4) was a good accompaniment for both dishes. I still found room to squeeze in a decent pud of hot chocolate pot (£7.50), which was everything I expected with the light sponge exploding in to life as the spoon hits the rich dark gooey sauce served with well matched creamy pistachio ice cream. Fiona delcared herself happy with two different scoops of ice cream. She could not decide whether she prefered the marmalade or the maple syrup as she took the lighter option for desert.
Service was alert, professional and friendly and it was hard to find fault with Tom's Kitchen which serves food from breakfast to dinner, and looks to have the legs to further develop it brand and the good name of Tom Aikens.