Tom’s Kitchen, St Katherine’s Dock: Not rocket science (August 2015)

The London restaurant scene is competitive across almost every part of the capital, and St Katherine’s Dock is no exception. This rather curious outpost of town – neither the City nor the East End, combining tourists from the Tower of London and suited office workers – has a plethora of options, one of which is Tom’s Kitchen, a cheerily English mini-chain. However, based on a recent weekday lunchtime visit here, there is no reason to return. Given the competition, it’s never been easy running a restaurant, but it’s certainly not rocket science, and Tom’s Kitchen failed conspicuously, even at the most basic, both in terms of food and service. The a la carte options here comprise around a dozen starters and slightly more mains, priced reasonably and bordering ever so slightly on the inventive side of traditional English. Owing to time constraints, my comrade and I opted for the set menu, perhaps not quite so exciting, but at the very least, a showcase for the place’s talents. We both began with a cold leek and potato soup. Despite their being two of us at our table and the place being far from busy, our server only brought one to the table and seemed genuinely surprised when we explained that – clearly – two of us had ordered the set menu. It was barely worth the wait for the second; one was even too much. The soup had to be among the blandest ever tasted, not even improved by the liberal addition of pepper. No bread was even offered to offset the pervasive sense of ennui. Maybe our server also realised this since he reappeared to whip away the dishes before my comrade had even put down his spoon. The mains were not quite so egregiously bad, more acceptable, plaice for me and pork belly for my comrade. Again, however, the server (a different one this time) pounced on our plates as we were forcing down our last mouthful. At least the bill was good value (a free drink – scant compensation perhaps – was thrown in), but Tom’s Kitchen will need to up both its food and service if it is to endure here.