One of the best things about London is that you can live here all your life and still discover new things all the time. Case in point: Groom Place, an unbelievably picturesque mews in Belgravia where Tom Aikens has just opened his new fine-dining restaurant Muse. This hidden little cobbled street surely has some of the prettiest houses in the city and we had absolutely no shame in walking up and down before dinner peering enviously in the windows. Seriously, if we had a few million spare we’d be moving in.
So if you head to dinner at Muse, make sure you allow some time for nosing around Groom Place – there’s even a cute pub, The Horse and Groom, which is perfect for a pre-drink. Muse is Tom Aikens’ return to the fine dining game (his Chelsea restaurant closed five years ago) and the restaurant is set in a corner mews hose, which was previously a pizzeria. It’s a tiny space, with just 26 covers spread across two kitchen counters and dining room tables on the first floor. There’s two tasting menus on offer: six courses for £95 and 10 courses for £145, with additional wine pairing options. At lunch there’s also a three course option for £50.
The dishes are inspired by Tom’s life, the places he’s travelled and events in his life, making up a ‘gastronomic autobiography’. When this was first announced, it was the subject of great ridicule, particularly within the indulgent echo chamber that is Twitter. Yes it’s pretty easy to take the piss, but you cannot argue with the level of cooking here. In all honesty we probably could have done without all the lengthy explanations before each dish but it was no major issue for us really. We just wonder how long they can keep it up – surely Tom and his chefs are going to be sick of telling these anecdotes 40 times a day in a couple of months?!
Anyway, the food really is excellent. We went for the six course menu, which began with a couple of snacks – a smoked venison tartare and a cheese mousse sandwiched between two mini biscuits. Starting the meal with cheese and biscuits is absolutely ok with us.
Next was freshly baked bread with two freshly churned butters, one topped with great flakes of salt, and another that had been whipped with chicken and cep mushroom. “Just Down The Road” was the first proper course to arrive, a dish of ricotta cheese made from milk sourced near Aikens’ native Norfolk, served with burnt leek purée and leek crisps. We loved the next course of mackerel served in a daikon broth and with pickled daikon – a multitude of subtle flavours that added up to powerful effect.
Other highlights included a perfectly grilled langoustine, covered in a sweet pig trotter jus, before being wrapped up in a thin shaving of lardo. A single meat course was a flame grilled rectangle of Norfolk dairy cow, served with a single triple cooked oblong of potato, and an onion that had been stuffed with beef mince and barley, like a plump English dumpling. Finaly, there was dessert, a freshly made ice cream (using the same milk from the ricotta in the first course) spiked with cornflakes, for a full dose of childhood nostalgia.
Tom Aikens is clearly a very talented chef and eating at Muse is, all in all, a fantastic experience. If you go bag a seat at the upstairs Chef’s Counter – these are definitely the best seats in the house.
38 Groom Place, London SW1X 7BA