Saturday, May 31, 2008

Dinner at Tom's Restaurant (aka Tom's Place)

Ah, another superb meal in London. This trip is turning tragic!

Tonights choice was Tom's Restaurant, as recommended by an expat friend here in London. We started upstairs at the bar for a drink and snack, then moved to the main restaurant for dinner.

Upstairs vibe was chic and modern, packed with the good looking set of Chelsea. We ordered drinks and a bowl of chips (that's French Fries to you, mate) which were fat and crisp and fluffy and lovely, as well as a small order of their Parmesan Risotto, which was tasty but uninspiring. The flavor of the parmesan and creme fraiche was very nice, however the risotto itself was chalky and undercooked. My friend who joined me for dinner that night is a huge fan of risotto, and didn't think much of it -- and it's one of those dishes I've tried cooking many times and have gotten truly right only once or twice, so I know it's not easy to get perfect. Unfortunately, they didn't quite get it right here.

Chips and Parmesan Risotto

Downstairs however was a completely different story. The food we ate there was to die for. Even though we'd already snacked, I couldn't resist the Seared Foie Gras with Duck Egg, Bacon and Balsamic Jus. While I'll be the first to admit the photo doesn't make it look terribly attractive, and my friend compared it to a Denny's Grand Slam (it's the biggest damn egg I've seen on a plate in a while), it was utterly delicious. The richness of the foie gras with the depth of flavor from the duck egg, combined with the saltiness of the thick cut bacon was, without question, heaven on a plate.

Fois Gras with Duck Egg, Bacon and Balsamic Jus

I can't talk about this dinner without telling the story I twittered on yesterday, involving dumping a glass of water in the name of art. (If you don't follow the twitter yet, subscribe!). I commonly will use a wine or water glass at a restaurant as a makeshift 'tripod'; just something to balance the camera against. As you can imagine most restaurants are quite dark, making photography difficult. So I usually use a glass as a balance point. Which of course I'd been doing throughout the evening here, as I always do. Now I can't quite say that I didn't realize my water glass had been filled, because I watched it get filled. But in the heat of the moment of seeing a photo I wanted to make, I grabbed the glass and flipped it upside down. The full glass. And naturally dumped an entire glass of fresh, cold water all over our table, the floor, and of course -- my leg.

And the photo didn't even turn out that great. :( All in the name of the blog!

But back to the food. Main courses came, and they thrilled nearly as much as the starter. I had the Duck Confit, and my friend dined on Filet of Beef. The duck was superb, with gorgeous crispy skin and delicate fat, the meat perfectly moist with the chewy edges I adore so much to accompany the fatty skin. It was served with potatoes and artichoke hearts, and the artichokes themselves were nearly as good as the duck. Eat your heart out, vegetarians -- nothing makes a perfectly good vegetable even better than coating it in duck fat!! The steak was apparently superb, a point worth noting because my friend doesn't eat rare meat. It's been a point of contention between us where I'm always chiding him for taking a perfectly good steak and murdering it on the grill. He admitted that he had been slowly going more and more red on his meat, and that while this particular steak -- ordered medium (and served French medium, not American medium) -- was the rarest steak he'd ever eaten. And he loved it. Good on you man!

Duck Confit

Fillet of Beef
Tom's Restaurant (aka Tom's Place. Seems to depend on where you look. And Tom's Café is a different restaurant)
27 Cale Street
Chelsea, SW3 3QP
Tom's Kitchen
+44 207 349 0202

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rating: 4 feet
verdict: Absolutely superb. Great ambiance, friendly service (both in the bar and the restaurant), and of course great food. The only reason it's not getting a 5 feet rating is the risotto. But definitely, without question, go.