Photography by Chris Osburn
We certainly couldn't have picked a more pleasant time to accept our invitation to have a go at the new Tom's Kitchen at Somerset House. Salubrious sunshine streamed through the arched window near our table warming us in a much appreciated glow during our Friday lunch visit. Angled mirrors, installed above, captured and reflected the natural light to great effect in the high ceilinged Georgian room without taking anything away from our view of the River Terrace below and Thames just beyond.
Adding to the lovely light, natural materials such as reclaimed French oak and red leather and a diverse range of light fittings made from pewter, reclaimed metal pendant and glass funnels had Londonist already impressed with the resto before even taking our first bite. We also reckoned Tom's was a definite improvement on the former home of the Admiralty Restaurant. Service was friendly and confident. The wine list was a delight (we very much enjoyed our glass or two of Sancerre rosé). And the Somerset House location could not be beat.
With starters around £10 and mains at £15-ish and up, Tom's ain't necessarily for the budget conscious but still represents good value in upscale dining and it's a pretty safe place to consider when you need to do it up without completely blowing the bank. Our meal most certainly did not disappoint. However, some dishes were more commendable than others.
Chicken liver and foie gras parfait with shallot chutney and brioche was gorgeous and amble while a starter of gazpacho with black olive tapenade fell well short of impressing us. Tom's signature seven hour confit lamb was as tasty and tender as ever as was the grilled sirloin steak. Not so 'wow' was our side of truffle chips with Parmesan. The chips were plenty enough good on their own with the truffle oil and quickly clumping Parmesan doing little more than providing the dish with a gratuitously fancy schmancy title. Blackberry Eton Mess with Chantilly cream was an end of summer dream.
A dining space that sets a high standard for understated elegance and a more than decent menu with a few particularly yummy items make this well appointed eatery with the big name chef behind it (see our interview with Tom Aikens here) an easy one to recommend. A visit here probably isn't going to amount to the greatest meal of your life but we believe most savvy London diners are apt to leave Tom's Kitchen more than satisfied with their experience.
Tom's Kitchen is located at Somerset House, Strand (WC2R 1LA). For more information visit www.tomskitchen.co.uk/somersethouse.