BATD ON Dec 04, 2013 AT 3:54 pm

by Annie Vischer

Tom's Kitchen Canary Wharf

Tom’s Kitchen Canary Wharf

When December hits, Canary Wharf, the chrome-metal-esque area of London with gleaming skyscrapers as far as the eye can see, transforms into a veritable winter wonderland. As part of the Soho media set, slash weekend Chelsea girl, I tend to feel ever so slightly out of my depth in the financial district. My favourite winter ensembles might stand me in good stead against the fashion conscious crowds flooding through the boutique hub of London, but against the clacking heels and pencil skirts of the suited Canary Wharf elite, they make me feel a tad gauche. During the festive season, however, the docklands area gets its glitter on. Uniformly laid out trees appear draped in white sparkling fairy lights which reflect prettily off the babbling fountains in the Jubilee Gardens. Everyone seems to have a little spring in their step as the Christmas holidays approach and it’s an altogether magical place to be.

Tom Aikens

Tom Aikens

Tom’s Kitchen adds perfectly to this feeling of bonhomie. The Tom’s Kitchen in Canary Wharf, which opened only this year, is the third branch of chef Tom Aikens’ restaurants. With one in Somerset House and another in Chelsea, Aikens is certainly covering his bases. The concept of Tom’s Kitchen is to offer casual yet high quality dining that uses seasonal ingredients to the best of their potential.

My friend and I were greeted very politely at the door and shown to our table. We walked through the bar area, which inevitably for the location, was a hubbub of just-finished-work-happy drinkers. Top buttons undone, jackets slung over bar stools, the area was a welcoming bubble of well looked after guests indulging in easy conversation. And we soon found out just why that was the place to congregate. The cocktails. Ok wait, this deserves a whole new paragraph…

So. The cocktails. Well, we only had one sort. But I am going to make an official statement. It was the best cocktail I have had to date. Now, I realise that a good cocktail, generally comes down to personal taste, but when it came to my personal taste, this hit the spot. It was a martini cocktail called Chelsea Gardens and was comprised of gin, cucumber, apple juice and elderflower cordial. All ingredients I would happily indulge in on their own, save for the gin, and mixed together they gave a refreshing aperitif that was both light and floral. I simply cannot praise this creation enough. Ideally I would have tried another cocktail at the end of the meal so as to have more to tell you, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have another Chelsea Gardens. I do apologise. Ruben, our cocktail waiter and bar man for the night was an absolute delight, and and obliged us with a thumbs up in front of our new found love. The Chelsea Gardens cocktail at Tom’s Kitchen.

And now for the food. We sat at our table, close to the window so that we could indulge in the fairy lights glistening from outside. Our waitress for the evening was Sylvia who was always on hand to advise, recommend and offer up different options. She was an absolute joy and made our dining experience all the more enjoyable. The manager too, took time to offer his advice on the perfect choice of wine to accompany our meal, and of course his selection was spot on. To start we opted for the chicken liver and foie gras parfait, and the hand-dived baked scallops. Both arrived looking so delicious that one wide-eyed look across the table to each other was enough to convince us to share both. Next we both ordered the roast seabass, which arrived with piquillo peppers, buttered clams and borlotti beans. I tend to order seabass rather a lot when I eat out, so I know how I liked it, and this particular dish satisfied on every level. The portion size was just right, and the accompanying ingredients were cooked so beautifully I knew I’d never be able to achieve anything like it myself at home, which makes it all the more desirable I think.

Now I was in a quandary when it came to ordering dessert. Generally I’m not a chocolate girl. Shock, horror, I know! I tend to opt for fruity, caramel or vanilla options, but all anyone could talk about was the hot chocolate pot. So I decided I had to give it a go. It was heavenly. Baked to perfection, soft and fluffy on the outside and decadently gooey (no there isn’t another word for it) in the centre, it was paired perfectly with a scoop of homemade pistachio ice cream, which even had the approval of Sylvia. She’s Italian so that says something. It was the perfect finale to our showcase of a meal.

Two coffees and another order of Chelsea Gardens later, we bid goodbye to our wonderful hosts and headed out into the wintery air of Canary Wharf in Christmas, entirely satisfied, enamoured of a new cocktail and craving another visit. We’re sure we won’t be able to stay away for long.

Tom’s Kitchen, Canary Wharf, 11 Westferry Circus, London E14 4HD.

For more information or to make a reservation visit the Tom’s Kitchen website here.

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