Equal parts acclaimed and criticised chef Tom Aikens will make his return to London’s fine dining landscape and probably attempt to win Michelin stars with Muse, a new tasting menu restaurant in Belgravia. The restaurant will open in December, according to the Evening Standard, and marks Aikens’ return after five years.
Two tasting menus will anchor the restaurant, which Aikens says is a “gastronomic autobiography,” with each course representing influential people, places, and events throughout his life. Hot palette knives, stagaires, and non-payment of suppliers are not expected to feature. One menu will come in between £120 and £130, with the other going sub-£100, and Aikens describes the 26 cover mews house as “the pinnacle of his career.”
Aikens helped Marylebone’s Pied à Terre win two Michelin stars as head chef at 26, before opening eponymous restaurant Tom Aikens, which also won two Michelin stars. That closed in 2014. A third restaurant, Tom’s Place, closed after six months and led to suppliers going unpaid in a pre-pack administration, a now familiar story in which a new company — in this case TA Holdco. — buys and refinances the assets of a liquidated company immediately after administration. That situation, in which the restaurants continued trading, caused ill will among suppliers and other chefs, as did Aitkens’s grim branding of a junior chef with a hot palette knife in 1999.
Aikens remains one — if certainly not the only — symbol of the “enfant terrible” fine dining trope that has long had its chips in the city. After five years away, punctuated by appearances on Saturday Kitchen and Great British Menu, his return to fine dining is dramatic, unexpected, bankable, and perhaps even fraught in a restaurant scene that has matured and taken stock of practices once considered the norm.
More soon on Muse.