New venture from Tom Aikens earning a Michelin star within the first year of opening
Muse is aptly named as it sits in the middle of a real mews of London and is the new fine-dining venture of Tom Aikens following his closure of the more casual of Tom’s Kitchen chain at the start of 2020. This is a more serious dining concept gaining its first Michelin star in the new Michelin guide for GBR and Ireland which was released on 25 Jan 21. It is a strong one Michelin starred restaurant and extremely cosy as an interior, so those usually requiring more space would be wise to manage expectations (I had to assist some poor fellow who literally couldn’t take his seat without the table being moved). A unique atmosphere and good to see Mr Aikens himself present, leading the pass and even serving guests at times. Quality dishes.
Dining at mews is split between the ground floor bar area at the counter for approximately 5 people and at the upstairs counter where the main kitchen is for what I counted as an additional 18 covers. Space is tight as mentioned, but there was a separator table next to ours to gain the metre distance to surrounding guests. A snack of fresh baby turnips arrived first, with a fantastic spiced houmus dip. This was initially a little puzzling on how to gain large scoops of the houmus with long, loose turnip stems, but was an enjoyable start.
The amuse bouche was a chilled asparagus custard with chervil oil and white crab meat dressed with elderflower mayonnaise which was fresh and light. Alongside this came something that had appeared on a programme called Snackmasters in which renowned chefs are given a different task of creating a version of a fast food option. Tom Aikens appeared on an episode to replicate the KFC chicken wing and this was the Aikens version using a spiced batter, stuffed with morel mousse which was to be dipped in a warm and light sweet corn mousse. This was enjoyable and a harmless bit of fun in the menu.
The homemade sourdough with 4 types of flour, stout crust was something I thought more serious with a fabulous crunch to the crust and well-judged loaf. The chicken and cep butter whip with pieces of crispy chicken skin was one of the most magnificent butters I have had in a long time with a superb blend of salt and sweetness of the cep and alongside the house’s own cultured butter was a genuine talking point and a clear message to the diner.
The first starter of a creamed, milk ricotta with olive oil gel was served with meadowsweet broad beans among other seasonal greens and was perfectly hooverable. However, the second starter of salmon with pickled cucumber, cucumber purée, pickled melons, a roe in cucumber gazpacho and a kaffir lime sorbet was an absolute knock out. This light dish of powerhouse and contrasting but complementary flavours was stunning and whilst I thought not possible, I would actually put the depth and well-judged flavours to accompany the (fair) salmon from Flying Fish suppliers made me prefer this salmon dish to that served in 3 Michelin starred Hajime in Osaka which I thought was impossible.
Rack of Lamb from HG Walters was the first main served with mint, crushed courgette, clams, lamb sauce and wild garlic. The sauce and sweetness from the wild garlic were very good accompaniments, however, the only lower point was the lamb itself. Perhaps thinner cuts would have been presented better and personally I would have enjoyed the skin of the lamb to being a little crispier. It was offset however, by the lovely, sweet sauce underneath. The second main of pollock was a serious piece of fish served in a spectacular chicken consomme. Perfectly cooked pollock with white asparagus softened Amalfi lemon pieces, squid noodles made this a light main that could be wolfed down in literally seconds.
An Aikens version of Tiramisu with espresso, mascarpone, disaronno and espresso meringue was again, well done. The follow up tasters of mini ‘truffled’ waffles with apricot honey and camomile sabayon was warming, clever and highly satisfying. The whole meal was polished off by lovely puffed rice ‘rockie road’ petit fours and Difference coffee, opting for the Yellow Bourban at £5 which, considering it is at least 10 times better than the worst types of espresso that cost roughly half that on average, makes this a highly sensible option and very good to see on the coffee menu.
This lunch set menu was £50 per person (all in with a splash of wine, discretionary service and coffee was £70 per person) which, for what was gained is extremely good value for money. Both of us were entirely full at the end having had some excellent moments with the bread and butters, salmon starter, chicken consomme with the pollack and pleasing desserts being the elements that pulled this first visit into the higher tier of 1 Michelin starred options out there today. As long as you do not mind being cramped and in an intimate atmosphere, this is a very good option in London and I like its originality. Thankfully, it is confirmed to have some excellent food and I hope this will be here to stay.
Food Grade: 86%