12 May 2010
REVIEW: Tom's Terrace, Somerset House, London
I was rather lucky to be invited along to sample the menu from Tom's Terrace, which has replaced the River Terrace Café with a rather impressive looking, red lit canopy. This is actually al-fresco dining with heaters to shelter us from the British "summer". In my opinion, food tastes better outdoors so I'm all for open-air dining, it's just that when it is cold, as it was when I was there, it's not too much fun. I really hope the temperature rises as the space would be a really lovely way to spend a warm, balmy evening with friends, overlooking the Thames.
We met Tom Aikens who introduced the idea of the restaurant and also regaled us with his epic marathon running tales and shock-love of Peperami. He seems a really nice chap actually, definitely a chef with a hands-on passion for what he does. He will be manning the open-air kitchen here 2 days a week, and tending to his other restaurants for the rest.
The restaurant menu is short and informal, possibly reflecting the limitations of an open-air kitchen, with 6 starters, 4 mains and 7 desserts, with a separate menu for the lounge area. After a lovely board of silky fois gras parfait, meats, chutneys and toasted brioche (£22) from the lounge menu, I chose the Tartine of Red Onion and Aubergine Compote.
The tartine (open sandwich to you and me) was perfectly pleasant although a titch over priced at £12.50. I do have to highlight my pet peeve with slate being used as plates as this is what happens:
Anyway, I'll expand on my Bring Plates Back to Restaurants campaign at later date.
A sample of the Grilled Steak Sandwich followed (£17.50 for the full size version), which I would have been quite happy ordering. A few dishes seemed to be a little repetative, for example if you ordered the tartine and then the sandwich the core ingredients are the identical. The steak here was delicious though.
My main of Grilled Paillard of Chicken (£16.50) was a fitting choice for the venue; light, summery, colourful, Mediterranean. Chicken flattened and grilled this way is a sure fire winner. Sadly a fuse went in the kitchen scuppering the sampling of Truffle Chips which sounded divine.
The desserts all sounded great, and due to indecision (and greed) I ordered both the Vanilla Pannacotta and the Lemon Curd and Blueberry Pavlova (both £8.00). The pavlova sure looked the part, stacked, shining and glorious. However, the meringue was rather dry and missing a lovely chewy centre. I adore lemon curd, frequently eating it out of the jar with a spoon and, as this was clearly represented on the menu, I was disappointed to not have tasted more of it in the dish.
The Vanilla pannacotta, broken up with raspberries and raspberry jelly, would be a good choice for those with a sweet tooth and is a fun dessert for summer. But the highlight of the evening was the reawakening of the fryers, which finally allowed us a taste of the truffle chips (£6.50).
Although a tad unorthodox with dessert, these were so good I'd eat them for breakfast, lunch, dinner, whenever. These proper fat chips, triple cooked I believe, were crunchy and fragrant and I was as happy as a truffle pig in mud with them. A great choice if you opt for the steak sandwich.
Tom's Terrace will be open for 22 weeks until the end of August, making full use of the summer. Oh, and Tom will be staring his own blog in 6 weeks, so really looking forward to that as he's saved my bacon (literally) on Twitter once before with a rather successful last minute pork belly recipe.
I was invited to review as a guest of Tom's Terrace.