Tuesday, May 22, 2007

tom's kitchen

while driving west via the throngs of tourists at westminster on a grey sunday morning, i started wishing i lived in a village - the sort of hypothetical, ideal tourist free village where one could walk over to the neighbours for a cup of tea and a chat at a whim and where the village pub/community centre was a mere horse/tractor ride away and saturday nights involved barn dances with the village farmer hunks. the sort of close-knit community where meeting up with your mates was within walking/tractor-ride proximity. i was particularly hankering after village life, as i mused how life in london sometimes meant you had to diarise lunch with your mates a month in advance, where table reservations on a weekend were quite often impossible with less than a week's notice, and the whole business of traversing town involved battling the tube, traffic and tourists. it was enough to make me give up all social life in favour of staying home with george. i suppose, however, that my hypothetical village would probably not have tom's kitchen. and that cheered me up a little as i continued plodding on westwards.

tom's kitchen was delightful - it might not have had the sophistication of tom aiken's eponymous restaurant, but it was a lovely place for a chatty sunday lunch. the tables were cosily placed without being claustrophobic or giving us the full disclosure of conversations on the next table and the bright airy room was decorated with an easy manner about it. the canvas prints of farm cows and pigs made for lovely viewing and we were able to watch the bustle of kitchen activity from our table.

we both had milkshakes which were light, foamy and really refreshing. LS's banana shake and my vanilla - tasted respectively of the flavours they were meant to embody and it was definitely a cut above the usual anonymous affairs of melted ice-cream. LS insisted on starting with a pain au raisin and giving me his potted explanation of why it was a perfect starter for sunday brunch which i ignored and declined to sample. perfect starter indeed. rather than arguing or prolonging the ordering process, we both went for braised lamb shoulder which came with a lovely pot of creamy cheesy potato gratin. it was well seasoned, tender and tasty with a nice bite, and the gravy was thick and caramelly without being annoyingly viscous. the potato gratin was a heart attack in a cast iron cocotte involving thin potato slices layered with cream and an abundance of cheese and baked till golden and bubbly. i was at this point actually pleased LS had his ridiculous starter, because he decided to forego part of his gratin which i scoffed greedily. it was altogether a rather comforting lunch as i caught up with the latest goings on in LS's life in the month since we last met up. we were much too full to sample their puds, but i'd spied french toast on their hearty breakfast/brunch menu which i'd happily make a return trip for.

i suppose my village living ambitions dissipated with the abatement of my pre-lunch hunger induced grumpiness. i decided very soberly that i'd probably not be very good at driving a tractor as i surveyed the results my horrendous parking skills. which is just as well, as my hayfever and incessant sneezing at the barn dances probably wouldn't give me very good odds with the hunky farmers.


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