I do love all animals, most especially dogs. They are my absolute favourite animals in the world. Their almost comical yet inquisitive faces, and positive lust for life is enchanting. I love them and I love meeting friend’s dogs and getting to know them. However, there is always that one pet dog that just takes no interest in you, shows no enthusiasm or love for you. Basically, it disappointingly, just doesn’t care.
For me, that mirrors how I felt at Tom’s Kitchen last night.
It felt like that disinterested, unenthusiastic pet you meet at someone’s house; try to love, but then give up for lack of reciprocation.
As mentioned in my Daphne’s review – Jimmy and I are staying in Chelsea at the moment, and have managed to make the upheaval another food tour. Meeting up with a close pal last night for a chilled dinner, I suggested Tom’s Kitchen as (from what I remember) it’s decent food, vibey and reliable service…or so I thought.
(Cool vintage care outside!)
I arrived first (as always) and sat down for my obligatory ‘wait and scroll’ through apple news and Instagram. I also thought a quick scam of the menu may be useful as I usually like to know exactly what I am going to order in good time (not a control freak at all!).
(I even look at menus during the day prior to dining and get excited for the evening’s festivities however I was not able to yesterday).
Anyway, at first glance and pinned to the menu itself was a small flyer/ promo card for patrons reading…. that if you Instagram a picture of your food and @ and tag the right mediums; the restaurant would give you a complimentary glass of ‘bubbly’ (I personally find that description of Champagne very cringe)
At that point a very small alarm ‘triangle’ went off in my head.
However fast forward 2 minutes and the alarm bells then started aggressively ringing as I also spotted a leaflet hugging the salt and pepper shakers on the table which further read about an app collaboration with Toms’ Kitchen about rewards and points all operated through the app store.
I know we live in a digital age and I of course support that (hence Food for Thought) and perhaps I am completely wrong here as I have never marketed a Resturant, but this, for me, is just the type of social marketing you would expect to find in something like ‘Aqua Bar’ in Palma, Mallorca advertising for free drinks at the local ‘Red Rhino club’ and free club entry…. not very Chelsea and not very gastronomic.
However, moving on to the food…
The menu read very well. Lots of delicious things I love to eat.
I went with the Spice Devonshire Crab Cake with cucumber & quinoa salsa. Jimmy went with Chargrilled Jumbo prawns on courgette pasta. Our friend went with the crab cakes too. The waiter casually said, ‘plates come as and when they are ready’. I instantly thought to myself…wait…are we at a tapas bar?
The waiters were seemingly not clear about the menu. There was no real explanation on the fact that’s it sharing (apart from small italics at the top of the menu which I only spotted whilst fact checking today) So, we were in the dark as to how it worked throughout the evening.
The starters arrived and were awkwardly put down next to bare plates (great stoneware though!) that were already in front of us on the table. The starters were more like side dishes. However, they were on the side of nothing… (had we known properly that it was 2-3 dishes per person to share we probably wouldn’t have been so baffled.)
The crab cake was good, however there were about 2 grains of quinoa on the perfectly cubed cucumber and about 2 grains of spice in it. I love spice and if you state ‘Spice’ on the menu I do want a hit please! Jimmy’s jumbo prawns were good but very salty…
For main course I went for Spiced (again) Cauliflower, Jimmy went with Salt Marsh Lamb Rump with spiced yogurt and roasted lemon and our pal went with the Chicken Schnitzel with raw courgette and cashew mayo. The food arrived on tiny plates and was tiny in portion size (again had we known it was sharing we would have ordered more). Also, the plates were just too small for the amount of food even though the amount of food was not enough! It was weird. It was half sharing plate size/half main course portion size. Very confusing.
They also forgot the sides of chips and tomatoes…so that took extra time to come.
Jimmy’s feedback on the lamb and I quote “the lamb was small and sous vide so the fat was not rendered. The turmeric yogurt had a chalky over whipped consistency and it was bland. However in the lamb’s defence it tasted okay just didn’t overwhelm me”
(Keen to also mention we had to ask for a Coca-Cola about 4 times. Just felt there was real lack of care)
Forget about pudding. We didn’t even order it.
(However if we had I would have gone for Chocolate Mousse)
I’m hugely disappointed by this experience as I just remember Tom’s Kitchen to be so much better. The food (apart from the prawns) did taste good but just didn’t spring out with enthusiasm like a jumping up puppy it more just sort of existed disinterestedly on the plate.
I really like and respect Tom Aitkin as a chef so it is frustrating to see a restaurant like that to have seemingly given up.
Maybe this old dog needs to be taught some new tricks…. not downloaded from the app store.
3 x Starters
3 x mains
X 2 sides
X 1 bottle of Sparkling water
X 2 Coca Colas
X 1 Mint tea
X 1 espresso
Rating: (0-5) **