When we visited Tom’s (formerly Tom’s Deli) last year, we loved the look and feel, but were underwhelmed by the food. Since then the old décor has been stripped back and replaced with a contemporary look. Now billing itself as a 12-month pop-up, Tom Conran is still at the helm (he has four restaurants along Westbourne Grove), but he’s brought in the Blumenthal-trained Tom Straker for the stint. The new Tom’s menus are based around produce from Conran’s Herefordshire family farm, complete with an on-trend smoker in the garden. So far, so promising.
For a busy Saturday-morning breakfast, the tables were filled with freshly pressed or artfully distressed West Londoners fuelling up before a saunter along Portobello Road. We sat at the backroom counter and watched slightly stressed-out staff hurry to and fro. Our coffee arrived quickly; the orange juice we asked for twice never turned up. The menu is modestly ambitious – the duck eggs are slow-cooked, and served with generous shavings of parmesan and a bacon and onion brioche.
Our french toast was sweet and light, the fresh fruit syrup coming through as a sharp bite of young berries. A princely plate of scrambled eggs, treacle-cured bacon and grilled sourdough also surpassed expectations. The lunch menu follows the same line of sophisticated takes on recognisable dishes: veal ravioli with pancetta broth, or white onion soup with basil and ricotta. Like the décor, the pricing and the creativity have been revved up a notch, turning Tom’s into a high-class local café. While we preferred the previous, more distinctively ‘tuck shop’ look of the place, we’re definitely happy with the new menu.