You may or may not remember me mentioning Tom’s Kitchen a long, long time ago, when I included it on my breakfast/brunch list (see post here). I didn’t include any proper photos of the food there as I had been too busy eating and yabbering away – 2 things I am very good at – so to make up for it, this is a mega post that I have been sitting on for over a month.
It was Valentine’s Day and we had a table booked at the Canary Wharf branch – party of 7, as you do on the one day of the year that is meant for couples to celebrate their love and joy and whatnot. That evening, it started to really chuck it down, and with each one of turning up like sad little rats, drenched to the bone and each one arriving more wet than the last, it wasn’t necessarily the best start to our night. In fact, we did end up 1 man short. (You were missed, E!) But then my lovely, lovely T surprised us all with gorgeous gift-bags, which were sitting very prettily on the table, and, you know what they say, ‘There’s nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with chocolate.’ (Linda Grayson) True story.
Now. You know I love me some truffle fries, and am constantly bemoaning the lack of places that offer them here in London. Thankfully, they do a pretty awesome version here. In fact, I come to Tom’s Kitchen just for them – oh, and also for the foie gras, but more on that later. As my dining companions hadn’t tried truffle fries before, I simply had to order us some to share while we perused the menu.
As you can see, these are proper thick-cut CHIPS, and not FRIES, as I’m aware I’ve been going on and on and on about. But see, I’m used to referring to crisps as ‘chips’, and everything else as ‘fries’, and oh my god okay I know you really don’t care, and you’re just salivating thinking about how amazing those look. I’m very pleased to say that everyone loved them! Also, be sure to get the parmesan because that’s just how it’s done.
Oh, and DO ask for mayo on the side, because it’s really not truffle chips unless it’s been dunked in mayo.
It took a while but we finally placed our orders. The beauty about dining out in a group is that you get to order just about everything on the menu, and because, luckily enough, my friends love me, I got to try everything.
And so. Starters.
This was H‘s order. It arrived hot and freshly-fried with a crisp, golden, breaded crust. I hate it when restaurants put too much binding in their crab cakes to compensate for the lack of crab, but thankfully that wasn’t the case here, as this had sizable chunks of crabmeat in it. It was also very light and appetizing and I love the fact that they served it with a tomato salsa instead of the usual creamy accompaniments that tend to come with.
This was T‘s order. (Oh snap. I’ve just realised that we have 2 Ts in this post. Luckily they also happen to be a couple, so I shall just conveniently refer to them as Mr T and Ms T hereon. What fun!) So yes. This was Mr T‘s order. Would you look at that gorgeous orange yolk?! If you’re squeamish about eating raw stuff, I understand if the uncooked egg yolk puts you off. Oh wait. If you’re not into raw food, you probably shouldn’t be ordering this at all hahaha sucks to be you! But if you are, you’re in for a treat, as steak tartare is probably one of the best ways to eat beef raw, provided of course, that the meat is very fresh. It comes in a generous portion, presented in the very classic style of a fat disc, with an unctuous, slippery yolk sitting atop it. The meat was tasty and well-seasoned, the sharp saltiness of the capers and anchovies helping to undercut the richness of the dish somewhat.
Ms T got the truffled mac & cheese, which really should have been all kinds of awesome but in truth it was just alright – a little too stodgy and overdone for my tastes, and the truffley aroma was quite lost on me. I recommend trying out the truffle mac & cheese at Jackson + Rye (see post here) instead.
Poor F, who has IBS and occasionally has to eat a little cleaner, got this for her starter. When F explained her condition to our waitress, she very helpfully suggested that F substitute the soda bread (that usually comes with the salmon) with their gluten-free bread instead. I thought this was a very sweet touch, as further proof that the restaurant really does try to cater to everyone’s tastes and preferences. Anyway, F let me try it, and omg, that GF bread was actually really nice and fluffy – I was pleasantly surprised!
N got the chicken liver parfait, which was nicely presented in a lovely quenelle. It had a good texture – smooth, creamy and not too gritty – and taste-wise it was great as well, the tangy brininess of the pickled gherkins and the sweet, chunky shallot chutney both excellent accompaniments. And toasted, fluffy, eggy brioche (look at how wonderfully yellow it is on the inside!), how I adore thee! Now, I know that I said earlier on that the GF bread had pleasantly surprised me, but I will still choose brioche every time. Every time.
Let me now show you my starter, which, after truffle chips, is the second reason I visit Tom’s Kitchen.
LOOK. HOW. BEAUTIFUL.
So, I know it’s essentially a heart attack on a plate. Fatty foie gras, duck egg (1 duck egg supposedly holds your day’s limit of cholestrol intake), and bacon, which is, well, self-explanatory. But I don’t care. I live for this shit. And yes, I know some of you think I’m a bad person for loving foie gras so much, and yeah, not going to lie, it’s definitely not great for my karmic account balance hahaha. OR my actual bank account balance, come to think of it. But IT’S. SO. GOOD. And while pan-fried is not how the French traditionally serve it, it really is the best way to have it. I shan’t bother describing this dish to you because to write about it will be to defile its perfection. I was almost unable to share it. Almost. But I did in the end (so proud!), which I guess goes to show how much I love my friends.
And with that, we are FINALLY done with the starters and I can now move on to telling you about our mains. (Love it that my friends all have massive appetites.)
This was my choice, and when it arrived at the table, it was certainly a lovely thing to behold. The sauce was dark and rich with a lacquer-like sheen, a great contrast to the bright orange of the mash. We had a bit of a debate over where the cheeks actually come from, so I’ve done some research, and just to clarify, beef cheeks come from the facial cheek muscle of the cow, which is very lean and tough – not a surprise given all that cud-chewing that cows do! But braising it for a long time transforms it into something soft and tender and wholly desirable, and it went well with the root vegetable mash, which was nice and sweet, and very slightly fibrous – which I love.
This was N‘s choice. I’d very nearly gone for this as well but am glad I didn’t, as neither of us liked it very much. I’d been unduly excited by the addition of the veal, which I had thought would make the meatballs extra tender, but that was sadly not the case here, as these were rather dry and tough. Also, when you order meatballs, you tend to subconsciously expect a massive, heavenly heap of them, so as you can see, we were rather disappointed in that department.
This was Mr T‘s choice. It came in a similarly generous portion. A very rustic dish of pork and lentils, hearty and filling, though we did find something hard in it (possibly a stone from the lentils) toward the end.
Ms T really felt like a pie that night, for some reason, so she plumped for the fish pie. I don’t remember very much about the pie, in truth, but I do remember her saying that it was very filling.
Ok I know this looks almost identical to Ms T‘s fish pie but I swear they are different! (If we play ‘Spot the Difference’, you’d realise that the 2 dishes are baked in different baking dishes and served up on different boards, and that there’s a side salad next to the mushroom ragout, so there.) Anyway, this was H‘s choice. Again, I regret to say that I don’t remember very much about it at all - probably shouldn’t let so much time pass between my visits and my posts in future – but I do think it made for a very substantial vegetarian option, as I recall my carnivorous H struggling to finish it all.
I don’t have a picture of what F got, which was a salad that she requested for them to make into a main for her – and which they did so very obligingly – but I think she enjoyed it all the same.
Now. I know I’ve mentioned quite a few times that we were all STUFFED at this point, and you’re probably thinking, ‘Hang on a minute… They haven’t even eaten THAT much…’ But that’s where you’re wrong, see! Because we had tonnes of sides as well!
For the sake of completion, we got the buttered spinach, braised red cabbage and honey roast carrots, as well as a few more orders of truffle chips. (All at £3.50 each)
I like to think that my friends and I are as tight as these truffle fries.
So yes. We were clearly entitled to be really full.
But then half of us soldiered on and had dessert.
Mr and Ms T opted for the sorbet. My memory is failing me so I don’t really remember what flavors these 3 delightful little scoops were – definitely chocolate, and then maybe passionfruit? Pear????? CONFUSION. – and I do apologize. Anyhow, I’m not really one for sorbet because fruit fazes me, but I do remember this having a pleasing texture – it was lovely and light, as opposed to being rich and heavy like ice-cream, while still being smooth and creamy, without too much of that iciness you sometimes get from sorbet. The fruit flavors were far too tart for my liking and I got a bit carried away making involuntary ‘Baby Eats a Lemon’-type faces for a while.
I had to get this as it was the Valentine’s Day dessert special. I don’t remember the exact price but I’m guessing somewhere between £4-6. I didn’t take a picture of the whole glass but it was actually served up in pretty piped layers interspersed with hazelnut praline. This was nice – desirably smooth and moussey, sufficiently aerated, although slightly sweeter than most chocolate mousses owing to the use of milk chocolate. But then you can’t really have too much sweetness (or chocolate) on Valentine’s Day, can you? I really love hazelnut praline and wish there was a lot more of it.
And of course there was STP. And yes, with two scoops of ice-cream – vanilla in the foreground and pistachio in the back. There’s a simple explanation, really: I’d asked for the ice-cream to be changed from vanilla to pistachio, but I guess they forgot, so later on they gave me a scoop of pistachio as well, and H and I were very happy clams. I am now beginning to see that that is one fabulous strategy to obtain free food which I may employ again in the future. This was by no means an STP to rule them all, but definitely good enough nonetheless.
All things considered, I would definitely say that Tom’s Kitchen is worth a visit. The food is generally good and while there’s nothing experimental or innovative about it, I guess that’s the charm of it, really. But then I don’t really demand very much to be honest. (All I want is the pan-fried foie gras and a mountain of truffle chips. They could scrap the rest of the menu for all I care.) This was a Friday night so the place was pretty much packed with the post-work crowd, amongst whom the sharing platters and charcuterie boards seemed very popular.
And thus concludes our epic Valentine’s Day meal, after which we had to leave the warm comfort of the restaurant and brave the bitingly harsh winds outside, which was eventful to say the least, involving many a tumble and having to cling on to one another for dear life. I know I’m understating it here but I genuinely thought I was going to die on my way home that night. I remember thinking to myself, “If I die now, at least I’ve had pan-seared foie gras, truffle chips, sticky toffee pudding, and amazing, amazing company.” See, that’s why you should always eat whatever you want, whenever you want, as you never know which meal will be your last. Not so smug now, are we, anti-foie people? ;) ;)
11, Westferry Circus
London E14 4HD
OPENING HOURS (from their webstite)
|Monday – Friday:
7.00am – 11.30am
|Monday – Friday:
11.45am – 2.45pm
|Monday – Saturday:
5.30pm-10.45pm (last orders)
Dinner Menu Dessert Menu
|Saturday – Sunday:
10.00am – 12.00pm
|Saturday – Sunday:
12.15pm – 4.00pm (until 6.00pm Sunday)
Weekend Lunch Menu