As Tom Aikens’ eponymous restaurant in London celebrates its tenth anniversary, the Michelin star chef speaks to Elite Traveler TV about how it has changed over the last decade and explains why the “horrendous” dress code had to go.
When Tom Aikens Restaurant reopened in 2012 following an extensive, three-month refurbishment, it emerged with a unique take on fine dining. Gone were the carpets and tablecloths, replaced with the warmth of wood and comfier, curvier chairs – signaling the biggest change the restaurant had undergone in almost ten years of business.
“Before [the refurbishment] we had carpets, tablecloths, under linen – everything,” says Tom. “It was a lot more formal and we even had a horrendous dress code.
“You just don’t do that these days because in terms of people’s expectations of going out: they want to have fun and they want to go somewhere that’s social, that’s lively, that’s fun. They don’t want to be in a place where the food is fantastic but they’re whispering and the service is very formal and you feel like you can’t really enjoy yourself.”
Aside from its new dining style, the restaurant has had inevitable changes in staff over the years, but Tom says it has always maintained its consistency – proved by the fact that it was awarded with its first Michelin star in the 2013 guide to Great Britain and Ireland, and most recently achieved five AA Rosettes.
“I’ve managed to pack in quite a lot [into my career] but I think really the one thing that I’m most happy with is the team and the restaurant in terms of helping me, keeping the standards and keeping the consistency of what we do here day to day. It’s testament to them as well that we keep the standards and we keep the awards coming.”
Click the video above to watch the full interview.