Tom’s Kitchen, Mailbox

Monday lunchtime. Let’s be honest it’s not the dream ticket. No celebratory start of the weekend here. No occasion to speak of, just sustenance to get us through ‘til home time. Usually.

One sunny Monday last month we ditched the houmous at our desk scenario in favour of The Mailbox’s newest addition, Tom’s Kitchen which has been getting a lot of attention.

There’s more than a touch of Parisian bistro about the place – think La Coupole, but smaller and smarter and without a pile of fruits de mer on every table. It has a relaxed vibe, lively chatter and is high in style. There’s a lot of wood, great lighting and comfy seats that make you want to stay all day – we didn’t, but totally could have – and the staff are cool, friendly and super ambassadors of the brand’s ethos which at its core are seasonality and local produce.

First thing’s first, it wouldn’t be a Monday without a bottle of Petit Chablis would it? In for a penny, in for a pound and all that. Olives with the stone in – always superior in our book – were a citrusy delight and just perfect with the Chablis. The crowd pleasing menu was right up our street with some inventive specials winking at us too.

My colleague and voracious meat eater was in heaven. Chicken liver and foie gras parfait with toasted brioche, chutney and cornichons was a classic brilliantly done. A starter of pickled Cornish mackerel, kohlrabi remoulade with apple was my stand out dish. Fresh, summery and stunningly good this was just a joy. It sounds a bit over the top – it’s just food right – but God it was great.

Both mains – slow cooked pork belly with smoked sausage, choucroute and pork jus and from the special board, guinea fowl with pearl barley risotto, confit duck with parsley oil and hazelnuts – were seriously good, but on the salty side. It didn’t bother either of us as we’re partial to a good thwack of salt, but if you’re not keen perhaps choose something else.

The sweet stuff was all pretty appealing, but we went with a recommendation from the specials of compressed watermelon, coconut ice cream with mint syrup which was refreshing, light and zingy and a delicious millefeuille with vanilla cream and blackberry sorbet. We could have handled more vanilla in the cream, but we’re being picky now. We had a cracking lunch and frankly we couldn’t think of a better start to the week. Or an end. Or a middle.