Day’s out are great aren’t they? On this particular day I was getting a culture fix, trying to decipher the meanings of pieces of art at Ai Wei Wei’s exhibition in the Royal Academy and probably still remained a bit clueless at the end of it!
With late lunch booked at Tom’s Kitchen in Somerset House there were high hopes of a satisfying feed, beginning strongly with drinks to get our digestive juices flowing, our fingers were crossed it would continue in a similar style. Service was efficient from the outset and I would’ve been disappointed with anything less, considering it’s one of Tom Aiken’s establishments. Rather than being full of fancy posh dishes, the menu was littered with classics and comfort food dishes – perfect for the colder weather.
Even after a decent breakfast, trudging around for a few hours soon burned off any energy reserves and we were pretty ravenous by the time 2pm arrived. To start a crab cake and chicken liver parfait kicked off our lunch – the spicy crab and salad demolished in a couple of minutes with the partnership of cool cucumber and tomato balancing the heat from the crab cake nicely.
I was a little disarmed when was faced with the portion in front of me, the curl of parfait was crazy big and would take some eating – I tried my best though! Great with the toasted brioche which was fully loaded with a bit of everything – the richly smooth parfait worked perfectly with the chutney and sharp cornichons, just enough to break up the richness and prevent it become too intense. However, despite my best efforts there was still parfait left, making me feel a touch of guilt because I hate wasting good food!
Shepherd’s pie isn’t something I eat often, even at home I prefer the cottage equivalent and it’s not something I’ve ever ordered in a meal. However, on an Autumnal day it was a dish that was most welcome! Underneath a cheesy mash top was a generous layer of lamb, which I can be a bit funny about – I don’t know if you’re the same? It’s not my favourite meat – I’m all about beef, pork and seafood, sometimes struggling with the lambiness of the meat. I much prefer it spiced North African style because it disguises the innate flavour of the meat itself and in my opinion makes it a lot more interesting.
The other half’s burger did all the right things and there were no complaints. Even though burgers are cooked through here, something stated by the waiter at the time, it was still incredibly juicy and must be testament to the quality of the meat used and the combination of ingredients in the patty. Topped with perfectly melted smoked Applewood cheddar, salty crisped bacon and a generous amount of gherkins there was plenty going on taste and texture-wise. No sign of the seemingly ever-present brioche bun here, with a sesame seed bun taking pride of place, as much as I love a brioche bun sometimes a touch of old-school is great too.
Set within the grounds of the beautiful Somerset House, the restaurant ticks a lot of boxes and great if you are in the centre of London. My only bug bear was the lacklustre atmosphere in the dining room, being separate from the bar it misses out on the extra ambience and character.