Tom Aikens grew up in a culture of food and wine. At 26 years old as head chef at Pied à Terre, he became the youngest chef in Britain to achieve two Michelin stars. His own restaurant in Chelsea was the first [two] Michelin starred restaurant MD and I went to together. It was our third date, MD had planned it and kept it (not very well) as a surprise.
The restaurant was intimate, but oddly there was a table with young children next to us so the atmosphere was slightly less sophisticated. It was BYOB and MD brought a bottle of Sin Qua Non, love at first sip…
We had the tasting menu. The crab starter was a memorable highlight, with coriander, horseradish snow, coconut and crab vinaigrette was delicate and punctuated with fresh flavours (apologies for the picture quality, my camera was on its last legs).
A variety of bread was served with a variety of butters, setting the standard for restaurants everywhere, salted, cep mushroom, bacon and onion, and plain whipped. After a thorough bread and butter evaluation (I particularly enjoyed the mushroom one), we were presented with a shell holding a well balanced combination comprised of a tender baked scallop, yeasted potatoes and osso buco.
Tom regularly visited Auvergne as a child, and later gained cooking experience working at Joel Robuchon in Paris. He praises the ‘fresh, simple’ regional French cuisine and these influences shine through in his tasty dishes of traditional meat and veg, particularly with the sweet onion flavours and perfect seasoning.