Rupert Hohwieler 20/06/23
Muse by Tom Aikens | Intimate Michelin-star tasting menus in a tucked away mews
When a stranger is about to tell you their life story, the normal reaction might be to excuse yourself, and then run away.
Muse, however, is not a normal place.
And Tom Aikens? Well, he’s no mere stranger from the smoking section either…
Muse is Aikens’ one Michelin Star restaurant; a chef who, once upon a time, at the age of 26, was Britain’s youngest ever to be awarded two Michelin stars (for Pied à Terre), and who’s now sharing parts of his personal life and upbringing – musings, you could call them – through very complex and painstakingly-detailed tasting menus.
Having taken on various TV stints including The Great British Menu, and then travelling to Abu Dhabi to preside over the flash restaurants in the Edition Hotel, Muse signals Tom’s ‘return to London’s fine-dining scene’ where he’s very much found his groove and wants to narrate his journey in the best way he knows how…
You’ll find Muse in a townhouse discreetly hidden down a cobbled mews in Belgravia (though that’s not the main reason why this place is called muse, it’s more about the people who have been a source of influence over his life, like his mother). Inside, it’s an intimate two-floor affair, seating 25. The best seats in the house, though, would be upstairs right before Tom and his team as they work away from a marble-fronted open kitchen. Behind those are a set of more private, plush booths if you’re after something less, well, in your face.
The menu – presented as a pop-up book with an illustration of the mews itself – comes as a 6-10 course set taster, with each dish reflecting a noteworthy incident from Tom’s life – almost like his version of a pensieve. Not to give too much away because the unexpected is a big part of what makes the experience so special, but some of our personal memories included…
A ‘bread & butter section’ (incredible homemade sourdough bread with equally-incredible butters in flavours like burnt leek and ceps), which is presented with a brief essay detailing Tom’s love of bread (and some interesting bread facts for the history buffs). Then there was a beautiful, sprightly plate of lobster with marjoram and courgettes, which also came with an anecdote; about how Tom was slightly scared of the crustacean when he first discovered them. Everything that arrives at the table, in fact, has its own anecdote and title – similar to a chapter in an autobiography.
Another dish, called ‘Full of Beans’, was composed solely of four different beans, each dressed in a different, intricate way with fermented peach and almond sauce running through, and named as such because young Tom was full of beans (energy) and because well, that’s still the case today. One of the desserts, meanwhile, a blackcurrant leaf and white chocolate ice cream, was the culmination of another of Tom’s childhood memories, when he would incessantly ask his mum post-school what was for dessert, and she would always say ‘wait and see’. Obviously, we’re aware this may all sound a bit self-important and pretentious, but if you can reserve judgement, it’s definitely one of those meals that only (for most people) come around once in a lifetime.
And as with all high-end dining destinations that offer these kinds of elaborate, layered tasting menus, there is the option to pair it all with wines (the discovery pairing will set you back an extra £90) that are specially picked out to perfectly complement the dishes – for instance, a fruity piedmont red to go alongside a strawberry dessert that, yes, was another ode to Tom’s days of sneaking into his mum’s veggie garden in Norfolk to nick the first strawberries of the season.
The wine, of course, you’d assume was not a memory from his childhood…
NOTE: Muse by Tom Aikens is open from Tues-Sat. There’s a six-course menu for lunch (£85) and then 10-course menus for lunch & dinner (£170), both of which you can book here.
Muse by Tom Aikens | 38 Groom Place, London SW1X 7BA
Into it? Well, there’s more where that came from in our guide to the most fancy restaurants in London…
8 Groom Place, Belgravia, SW1X 7BA
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020 3301 2903
9.0 | Amazing
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