Tom Aikens, chef and owner of Muse, gives Cally Squires a glimpse into his busy schedule.
I looked at over 50 sites [for Muse] and it was seriously dull because there was nothing quite right. When we found this place we hadn’t anticipated getting an old townhouse, but sometimes when you go into a building you get a feeling that it’s the right one.
Only 25 covers is kind of the magic number because in terms of planning, every inch counts when you factor in rules and fire regulations. When we took over the lease we had to restructure the whole building, putting in everything from new foundations and plumbing to ceilings and walls. So it was actually the opposite of what we originally thought, in terms of getting off lightly by doing something small!
We really wanted to not do what everyone else has done, so we hired an interior designer rather than a restaurant designer to give the space a more eclectic look. People really aren’t expecting that cosy, comfy look when they come in for the first time, but they love it.
The menu will change seasonally about every three months, so we had a new menu at the start of March. We have two floors and upstairs is better for people who want a busier vibe, but downstairs can feel more exclusive as a group of five can have the whole place to themselves. As a chef I prefer to sit at the counter because I like to see what’s going on.
I’m here 90 per cent of the time, it’s pretty manic at the moment. Even at lunchtime we do six and 10 course tasting menus so lunch service might not finish until 3.30 or 4pm. I get home around midnight and might work for another hour or so. At the moment I’m only taking Sundays and Saturday morning off, which is quite tiring.
I have two daughters so we like to get out of the city on Sundays and do something in the countryside. Or I might even cook a Sunday lunch.
At Muse the focus is on giving people a real experience and something a bit different. All the dishes have a story attached to them – whether it’s a supplier or someone I’ve worked with who has inspired me.
Muse is at
38 Groom Pl, Belgravia, London SW1X 7BA
I get up between 6.30 and 7am and out of habit I do a 45-minute stretch in the morning.
Once I get to work I’ll do emails and go through prep with the chefs or do some dish creativity of my own.
We have a big staff meal before lunch service, such as porridge with seasonal fruit or chicken curry with brown rice and vegetables.
I do an hour in the gym in the afternoon at Stone on Brompton Road or PureGym on Pelham Street.
I’m back at Muse for a 5.30pm briefing and from 6.30pm the show starts again. I’ll leave at about 11.30pm.