Tom Aikens (London, UK) – Master of Nothing
All good things must come to an end; unfortunately, the European adventure came to a crashing end. After an excellent meal at Fat Duck the night before, it was time for the often misunderstood Tom Aikens. He trained and excelled under Joël Robuchon, a modern French legend, so his technical skills should not be in doubt. Aikens is often criticized for his controversial plating methods (think Jackson Pollock reborn as a chef) but many have said the cuisine shines through with his distinct signature. Michelin has awarded him one star.
If i were Michelin, I would give him one big black hole – or a laughing Michelin man. Our meal was so bad that after 2 courses the sick niche1 left knowing his evening would not improve. His wife & I braved the remainder of the courses, although i’m sure we both wonder why today. We could have saved $300-400 if we left with him.
We were served a plethora of amuses, none of them remotely memorable. My notes, illegible, have adjectives like “salty, oily, greasy” – the remainder i can’t read. Not Good.
2. Chicken Consumme + Celery Gelee + Potatoe Mousse
Notes say first impression unpleasant, followed by an expanding chicken taste that never takes off – one dimensional. Not Good.
3. Roasted Scallops + Sherry Gelee + Cauliflower Puree
Scallops were overcooked on edges, ok in the middle, but lacked any sweetness. The whole dish, as you can probably see, was muddled – no direction, no focus. Not Good.
4. Foie w/ Apple/Gingerbread Crumbs + Apple Gelee
Like others have reported before me, I was served a very bland piece of foie. The crumbs were an interesting effect, giving it a spice dimension, but nothing could save the foie. Not Good.
5. John Dory w/ Red Pepper Puree + Tomato Sauce + Baby Squid
The fish was completely overcooked and completely overpowered by the sauces. We left half of the fish on our respective dishes and told the server the fish was – Not Good.
6. Lamb w/ Sheep’s Cheese + Garlic
Fried lamb nuggets whose cornbread was far too much, obliterated any lamb taste. Braised lamb in a cylinder that was far too greasy. Not Good.
7. Chocolate Mousse w/ Cherry Parfait
Overkill. Not Good.
8. Lemon Rice Pudding Parfait w/ Lemon Gelee + Lemon Ice Cream
An average dessert that was probably the best dish of the night. Ok.
9. Onslaught of Desserts
An onslaught of desserts – none of them even ok. Not Good.
The words that come to describe this meal? A decided lack of finesse, sloppiness, muddled, overpowering (but not good) flavors, bad. This was the worst meal of the trip. Even in my scathing reviews of Pic and Jacques Decoret, there were a few dishes (or ideas) of some dishes of a redeeming nature. Not one here.
Stay far far away.
Official Site: http://www.tomaikens.co.uk/