This is Michelin-starred chef Tom Aiken’s fantastic restaurant at the South end of Somerset House (the river end). He also has Tom’s Deli, in the South West corner of the courtyard here, which offers excellent quality deli-style salads and meals as well as coffee, cakes and fresh fruit.
His mission statement, boldly painted on the wall reads: “I want to get British people excited about eating and cooking with healthy, organic, delicious British food” (or something along those lines…) And he does a pretty good job of it too. After opening his first London restaurant in 2003 and gaining a highly-coveted Michelin star just a year later, Tom launched these two locations in 2010, and between them, there’s plenty of eatery options for the whole family at Somerset House.
For light lunches head to the Deli, the more casual of the two options, where a range of salads, sandwiches, fresh fruit and snacks are on offer.
The freshly prepared food here is all beautifully displayed – great for children, as they can see all the options and make their own selection
When we visited with toddler and ‘Nonna’ in the party, we ordered a crispy chicken and salad from the deli counter (which looks self-serve, but is actually hosted by one of the staff). Portions of the mains are generous and come with two salads. Nonna wasn’t hungry, but ferreted about the amply stocked drinks fridge til she found something to satisfy, and the toddler simply wanted an apple. When he saw his grandmother’s juice, however, he wanted one of his own too.
Tom’s Kitchen is a more formal venue with a menu of great mains, but it is still incredibly relaxed with staff who are very child welcoming. (They even laughingly forgave our toddler ‘painting’ the table with sugar before doing large swirling artworks that scattered the pesky granules far and wide.) Designed to mirror the aesthetics of his original Chelsea hub, the Kitchen offers a variety of menus including weekend brunch options and an express lunch set meal (a reasonable £25 for three courses), alongside à la carte offerings.
In summer months, a third Tom’s venue takes up residence at Somerset House on the Terrace. Going by the same name, this is an outdoor dining area complete with views of the Thames and the London Eye. The slightly shorter menu includes a selection of Tom’s Favourites, as well as smaller nibbles, sharing platters and puddings.
Top tip… Booking a table at Tom’s Kitchen and The Terrace is recommended, especially on hazy summer days when the Terrace becomes the go-to spot for Londoners and visitors alike. And be sure to plan your visit to fit in with the events going on at Somerset House itself, where ice-skating in winter and water fountains (change of clothes will be crucial) in summer delight the younger set.