SORRY, THIS VENUE HAS NOW CLOSED.
It is a huge compliment to Birmingham that Tom Aikens chose this city as the first outside of London for the expansion of his brasserie concept. With a premium spot in the Mailbox and a menu promising British classics, Tom’s Kitchen is top spot for dinner. We checked in to see how the cooking has progressed two years in.
This must be one of the most handsome dining rooms in the city centre; sat here sipping a glass of Prosecco and watching the chefs at work, it was easy to forget that we were in a shopping centre. Elegant wood panelling and yellow and green leather booths contrast beautifully with the glass-fronted meat ageing chamber and white butcher-style tiling that surrounds the open kitchen.
Even on a gloomy Tuesday in February - a time when most people are still keeping up the pretence that 2019 will be the year they trade weekday hangovers for 6am gym sessions - the room is busy and buzzing with conversation. All this is overseen expertly by a lovely, personable front of house team who didn't put a step wrong all evening.
Tom’s Kitchen has mastered that magical skill of writing a menu from which I want to order every single dish. Refined ‘pub classic’ style dishes sit alongside those with a more bistro feel, giving plenty of choice for guests. After a lot of deliberation, I opt for the Spicy Devonshire Crab Cake (£11) with cucumber and quinoa salad. It’s pleasingly heavy on the crustacean with just a hint of heat; the perfect repose to the light, fresh salad. We also try the deliciously sinful truffled macaroni cheese (£9), which elicits grunts of happiness from my dining partner.
There’s more good things from the sea for our main course. A delicate take on a fish stew (£22) combines squid, scallop, salmon and pollock with pickled fennel, an aioli that sings with saffron and a rich bouillabaisse sauce that is textbook in execution. The fish has crisp skin and flesh that flakes under the fork; the scallops perfectly seared. We may be about as far from the sea as you can get, but this is a kitchen that knows how to handle its seafood.
Equally good is a chicken schnitzel (£19) infused with basil oil and accompanied by confit cherry tomatoes. This is simple, honest flavours cooked well... and it works. On the side, we take their triple cooked chips (£4) which are so eye-rollingly good that I’d probably request them as my last meal.
We go for two chocolate desserts; one a milk chocolate and peanut butter mousse (£7), the other a special with dark chocolate and raspberry (£7). They’re both rich, smooth affairs that go down well, but don’t excite me quite as much as the savoury courses. There’s a varied wine list with bottles at lots of different price points, but we stuck to the house red, a medium bodied Italian which was great value for the quality.
The DesignMyNight Digest
There’s isn’t anything I didn’t like about Tom’s Kitchen. The prices are towards the higher end, but the food is well worth it. Quality ingredients, skilled chefs and flawless service mean that you are guaranteed a satisfying meal. Definitely one to put on your list.