You know a chef is doing well when they even have an outpost in Istanbul. Tom Aikens has been going from strength to strength in recent years, having opened four restaurants in London, one in Birmingham and also a branch in Turkey. These days the word ‘celebrity chef' does have slightly negative connotations as potentially somewhat vacuous venues trading off the name of a well-known chef. However, this was very far from the case on our recent visit to Tom's Kitchen in Canary Wharf for a relaxing Sunday brunch.
Walking around Canary Wharf on a Sunday lunchtime is actually a very tranquil experience, so it was with some degree of surprise when we walked into the busy vibe of Tom's Kitchen. Part of their success must be the decision to offer a playroom stocked with toys, games and children’s TV, as well as being dog-friendly and also offering complimentary parking for two hours.
However, crowds will only flock to your restaurant if you are serving high-quality cuisine. They have a pleasing mixture of breakfast and brunch options, as well as daily specials, which are guaranteed to please everyone in your group. My vegetarian guest opted for harissa-baked hen's eggs with butter beans and tomato sauce. It might be a surprise to see a Turkish influence in the dishes, as well as Tom opening a branch in Istanbul, but one of his business partners is the Istanbul Doors Restaurant Group. The dish was filled with rich and buttery notes and probably the best version you will find on this side of Europe.
My guest also saved space for Tom's famous macaroni cheese, which is so well-known, he once shared it on CNN live. The aged Leicestershire Red he used gives the dish a robust taste with hints of caramel.
Steak tartare isn't a dish people normally order on a Sunday brunch, but that is the beauty of the breadth of choices offered on this menu. You might think it's an easy dish to prepare, but it has a plethora of ingredients including the likes of banana shallot, cornichons, baby capers, Dijon mustard, brandy and much more and Tom Aiken's version is one of the most widely respected versions in the restaurant world.
For the peckish diner, their roast breast of duck is an excellent choice. Apart from being served beautifully pink, it comes with a very-filling and intensely-flavoured shiitake mushroom risotto, which is sturdy enough to stand up to the rich, gamey taste of the meat.
Canary Wharf might not be the obvious choice to consider for a weekend brunch, but Tom's Kitchen is giving you all the right reasons to head out to East London, even when you are on your day of rest.
For more details visit Tom’s Kitchen online.
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