Given the size of the kitchen the menu is short and sweet, limited to snack type foods that are just the sort of thing to soak up a few drinks like dips, burgers and steak sandwiches. There is nothing too challenging here and it is clearly the sort of food that Aikens feels comfortable his chefs can replicate when he is at his Chelsea restaurant and not manning the terrace BBQ. The wine list is equally concise and offers lots of beers, cocktails, white wines and rosés reflecting the summery feel of the whole place.
Having just overcome a serious addiction to eating pastrami during his marathon training, Aikens recommends the charcuterie board (£22) to begin. There is no pastrami on here but instead, a generous collection of cured duck breast, foie gras, pork rillette and a thick chutney. The charcuterie is served with slices of thick crusty bread which have been char grilled on the BBQ. Mathilde as our genuine French (and therefore foie gras) expert thinks the foie gras is too smooth but I am won over by the rich, melt in your mouth taste.
Some of the food on offer has a distinctly retro feel like the coronation crab salad (£10.50) which is a starter served in a small glass beaker with lashings of mayonnaise. Similarly the grilled paillard of chicken salad rolls back the clock with the addition of those old favourites sun dried tomatoes and olives. Dishes can be a little repetitive like the tartine (£12.50) and steak sandwich (£17.50). Both feature the same open sandwich style and core ingredients of slow cooked red onions, and rocket on char grilled bread. The tartine is advertised on the menu as being topped with goats cheese but it is clearly fetta on our serving. A wrinkle that I imagine will be ironed out over time.
The hot smoked Loch Duart salmon (£17.50) is actually served cold, a fact our friendly waitress warns me of in advance. Despite the chilly weather at the moment it is still worth ordering for the tender flakes of salmon on top of a jumble of watercress laced with a refreshing mustard dressing. Once again though an ingredient is missing, this time the soft boiled egg. The show stopping dish however is the side of truffle chips (£6.50), yes you heard right these are triple fried fat chips drizzled with truffle oil and topped with parmesan shavings. They are almost embarassingly decadent but so, so good. Expensive and a little pretentious, but still these are the best chips in London, better even than those at the Bull and Last which I have previously raved about.
Desserts are as summery as the rest of the menu, there is pannacotta, Eton mess and ice cream. The blueberry and lemon curd pavlova (£8) sounded amazing but lacked a little in execution as the centre of the pavlova was overcooked and dry rather than spongy and moist. Service for the night was a little bumbling at times with a few orders getting mixed up, but genuinely friendly and eager to please. After all, despite having the Tom Aiken’s name attached, Tom’s Terrace is not a high end restaurant. Instead its a good place for outdoor drinks and some summery food to soak up the booze as well. The food can be patchy but order the truffle chips and you won’t be disappointed. I can see why Aikens needs to run marathons with those triple cooked beauties constantly within snacking distance.
Details: Somerset House, the Strand, London WC2R 1LA (Ph 020 7845 4646) Tube: Temple