Tom’s Kitchen, Somerset House

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

Tom’s Kitchen

Somerset House

Strand

London

WC2R 1LA

http://www.tomskitchen.co.uk/somerset-house

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A Tale of Two Curries, Woking

Blogging’s taken a bit of a back seat recently, since my move down south life’s gotten in the way and posts have been few and far between; my last post being sometime in October. Even though there’s been the intention of writing, I’ve not really been in the right head space, so with a mini back log stacking up and with Christmas and New Year’s celebrations over with for another year, it’s time to do some catching up.

Woking town centre’s littered with chain restaurants, but there are independent spots around including a few curry houses. My continual search for the great and good of the independent food scene has brought my attention to a couple – namely Thali Thali and Bombay Night with differing levels of success, I’d heard promising things about some others, so on successive Friday evenings we found ourselves at Jaipur and Ray’s Indian.

Starting off with Jaipur – located on Woking’s Chertsey Road nestled amongst a hotch potch of businesses, where you’ll find deep fried chicken, tex mex, cheap pints, a few local indies, the bookies and the gym amongst other things. 

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After a disappointing curry at Bombay Night, Jaipur was a completely different affair and somewhere that we’d go again. With plush interiors and dim lighting, the food and service was excellent. Dishes came with prawns, chicken and lamb cooked till moist and juicy, sauces were thick without becoming cloying, subtle in taste as spices were used in moderation and overall had an air of refinement. Sundries of garlic naan and mushroom rice were also up to the task.

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For all the plus points, I’m still going to grumble about portion sizes and value for money, however I can’t winge about the food itself as it was all well done. 

Our second curry was at Rays Indian, a stones throw from the town centre and somewhere we’d walked passed a number of times as it’s on the way to the train station. A few months ago award winning Rays Indian came to our attention as part of Woking’s Food and Drink Festival, and the gannets that we are got our hands on some curry; it immediately joined our list of places to try.  Opening in 2013, their aim was to bring traditional Indian street food to the local area in a restaurant setting – an idea that’s been seen more this year than any other. 

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The place ticked a lot of boxes – relaxed, friendly and personable service combined with great tasting food. I could’ve done with double sized portions once again, however it was well flavoured and cooked on point. My adventurous side coming out again with an order of Keralan king prawn, and rewarded me with a delicious dish, juicy sweet prawns, the green beans still had bite and a sauce which could’ve been too sweet from coconut but was counteracted with the lime and ginger. Similar to Jaipur, I found the food more refined than some of our previous experiences in the town, 

Great news to hear that Rays Indian is opening a permanent street food stall in the town centre’s Market Walk, it may even be open now. 

Both Jaipur and Ray’s Indian I’d recommend for a tasty refined curry! 

Jaipur

49 Chertsey Road, Woking, Surrey, GU21 5AJ

Rays Indian

Unit 8 -10 Victoria  Road, Woking, Surrey, GU22 7PL