Monday, March 05, 2007

Tom's Kitchen

"Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed."

Alexander Pope wasn't talking me about me when he wrote that. Over the past few years my expectations about food have got a bit out of control. I find myself starting any critisism about meals that I enjoyed with "It was delicious, but..." The fact that I typed criticism when I meant conversation tells you a lot.

So I went to Tom's Kitchen with very high expectations. New venture from Michelin starred Chef. Laid back atmosphere. Classic English food prepared with passion. Critics clambouring over one another to heap plaudits.

It was good. I'll get the criticism out of the way first. It's tiled. So it's a bit like eating in a toilet, only with worse acoustics. You sit refectory style, so should you have a small accident with the ketchup, your neighbour looks like an extra from a Tarantino movie. Moby says the butter was cheesy. They didn't have many sharing dishes when we went, and I was sort of looking forward to a casserole with a big ladle. There go the expectations again. I turned up to a restaurant where I know the menu changes daily and then I think it's fair to critisise it for not having a dish that I sort of fancied. I am turning into that man from Little Britain who wants a picture of a slightly churlish owl and nothing else.

The good stuff is really good. They have baked Alaska (for two), the promise of which, along with the duck ham on the charcuterie platter (for two), perked up a tweaky Fi and some cheesy butter with good bread (which is my kind of butter no matter what Moby says.) They use a lot of this butter in the chicken liver pate, pictured above, which made me want to bury my head in it and go "whubba whubba whubba", but a sense of decorum meant I just spread a lot of it on my sourdough toast. They served a burger which is made from proper chopped, aged beef, the likes of which we would have crowned King of the Burgers if we'd come across it when we were doing burger club. That said, I prefer a burger that's less aged and made with a less fat. Oh, and a burger thickness that you don't have to dislocate your jaw like a snake to eat might be good too. The sirloin was well aged, well cooked and came with some triple cooked chips that I found better than the ones at the Hinds Head. Maggie was pleased with her haddock and chips, which tasted properly of fish and we were assured that it was off the boat that morning.

Deserts are homely and proper; the baked Alaska was ignited at the table and the profiteroles filled with some of the best vanilla icecream I've had for a while. The hot chocolate sauce is made with a very good quality, high percentage chocolate that needed just a little of the vanilla icecream to sweeten it up. Espressos came in cute stainless steel cups, but could have been punchier.

I'm sure it was expensive, but my friends kindly picked up the tab so I don't know exact prices. That said, the richness of the food meant that it was the next evening before I was truly hungry again and I effectively saved the money that would have been spent on three other meals. Which, along with my concept of any item bought in a sale actually saves you money, is your introduction to the world of Suzi economics.

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