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Tom Aikens SW3 has finally seen the light! We read that “recognising that customers may not always want elaborate food”, the chef has introduced a new “classic” menu, offering “the finest quality ingredients cooked and presented in a simple, straightforward way”.

Allelluja! But why’s it taken so long? It was back in our 2005 guide that Harden’s first noted that the main problem many restaurant-goers perceived with Tom’s (potentially excellent) cooking was its tendency to be “too clever by half”.

Exactly the same criticism was repeated (in different words) in the 2006 guide. And 2007. And… well you get the picture. That very same criticism was in fact made in six consecutive editions of the guide, right up until 2010.

So why did no one take any notice for all those years? We understand that chefs are to some extent 'artists', and that they have to follow their art, in spite – if necessary – of what their customers think.

Especially at the mid-top end of the London market, however, the voice of Harden’s reporters really is the best – arguably only – way of knowing what a cross-section of customers really do think, and it might therefore make sense for restaurateurs to take some note of all that market research we do for them.

Shame that it took a recession to make someone realise that what Harden’s had been saying for more than half a decade might well be true.

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