There was a lot of fanfare when Tom’s Kitchen first opened in The Mailbox, being the eponymous chef’s first UK location outside of London. The menu promises seasonal British favourites and comfort food, using local produce from passionate people. I was invited in last week with Vicky from Brumderland for a slap up lunch to see if it delivered.
We arrived at 1pm to a quiet dining room, our coats were taken and were seated with a great view of the kitchen. Our waiter Ollie was absolutely charming and very patient with us as we faffed about and chatted before we even got to the menu.
After a quick look at the cocktail menu, we decided to go for wine seeing as it was lunchtime, so I had a glass of Sangiovese, which was light and fruity.
I really liked that when you order a large glass, it comes in a carafe so you can top up, rather than having a huge glass of wine that goes warm after the first few sips.
The food menu was seriously enticing with a good balance of fish, meat and vegetarian dishes. Our waiter Ollie also talked us through the specials board which included some game dishes, as we’re now into game season.
We asked for his recommendations which were the Cornish cod for a light meal, or either the loin of venison or venison & celeriac pie, to make the most of the seasonal produce.
We decided to share the meat and fish board to start with, but were torn between what to choose for mains. Both Vicky and I loved the sound of the venison pie and the partridge special, though Vicky wasn’t keen on the celeriac in the pie, so she had the partridge and I had the pie.
The meat and fish board was quite the spectacle when it arrived, with parma ham, salami, duck rillette, parfait and cured salmon. Our lovely waiter Ollie was a little embarrassed as he’d forgotten to bring us the crab cakes that came with the board, but he brought them just minutes after the rest of the food arrived, hot and fresh from the kitchen.
All the elements of this were tasty, the sweet brioche toasts and tart chutney were beautiful with the silky parfait, the crispy crab cakes were wonderful too, but the real star was the cured salmon, which had the most wonderful, rich flavour and amazing texture.
We didn’t have to wait very long for our mains after the starter was cleared, and it’s safe to say we were both very happy with what arrived!
The venison pie was a large portion with bacony cabbage on the side. The pastry was buttery and flaky, with big chunks of venison and celeriac in a rich, lip smacking sauce.
My only criticism is that this was a pot pie, and I would have loved more of that rich, buttery pastry.
Vicky’s partridge dish looked absolutely stunning too, and I’m not ashamed to admit I had a bit of food envy. The partridge breast was perfectly cooked and the little partridge lolliops were a fun addition. I got to steal one from her and it was delicious, I like how they’d used the bone as the stick!
On Ollie’s recommendation, we also had a side dish of roasted butternut squash too, which was just the right size to share between us and deliciously sweet.
After polishing off those, we were told that the pastry chef will be devastated if we didn’t have a dessert, so although neither Vicky or I are big on sweet dishes, we just had to oblige.
Vicky chose the chocolate eclair while I went to the specials board again and chose the blackberry cheesecake, and we both had another glass of wine.
Vicky’s chocolate eclair looked ridiculously good, with light choux pastry with a mirror-like chocolate glaze, stuffed with fresh cream and brownie chunks.
My cheesecake was a little less ostentatious but absolutely gorgeous, silky smooth, mousse-like filling, crispy biscuit base with a generous scoop of tangy blackberry ice cream on top.
We had a thoroughly luxurious lunch which I enjoyed very much, with a special mention to our waiter Ollie whose knowledge, service and charm really made us feel special. If you want a special experience, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Tom’s Kitchen.
The only word of warning is the price. My meal was complimentary, but our total bill would have come to over £130, and although it was wonderful, I would be hesitant to spend so much on lunch unless it was a special occasion. There are great affordable options though, with the express lunch and pre-theatre menu featuring a streamlined menu with 3 courses for just £22 per head.
Want to try it yourself? You can find Tom’s Kitchen in the Mailbox and book a table online.
Disclaimer: I was invited to dine at Tom’s Kitchen as a guest, and both my meal and drinks were complimentary, many thanks to the team there. My opinion is, as always, my own and I was under no obligation to provide a favourable review.