It’s pretty rare that you find a restaurant where everything comes together perfectly.
The Fat Duck for example does some of the best food I have ever tasted but it’s Bray location can be quite a trek. Searcys at the Gherkin has some of the most exclusive views in town but a meal here can leave your wallet a little too light for your liking. Maze By Gordan Ramsay still has one of the best chef’s table in London but it’s dated decor leaves you wanting that little bit more from the expereince. Don’t get me wrong, I love all them but it’s not often that you see a restaurant pop up that gets this delicate balance right.
Enter Restaurant Story. The brainchild of the 26 year old chef Tom Sellers, this restaurant gained its first Michelin star just five months after opening. No surprises here, as Tom Sellers is no ordinary 26 year old – his CV includes working for the likes of Tom Aikens, Thomas Keller and René Redzepi.
Located in a former toilet block on Tooley Street, the location is quite unique. A stone’s throw away from London Bridge, this rather futuristic looking Swiss chalet building with its concrete floors, wide windows covered in wooden slats and minimal furnishing is designed to make you focus on the stars of the show – the wonderfully crafted dishes. The kitchen situated in a glass box of sorts, in the main dining area is a welcome distraction without hindering the wonderful experience.
Restaurant Story doesn’t do à la carte, but give you the option of picking from three different menus – a set lunch menu priced at £35, and a six course lunch menu priced at £80 and the full story priced at £100. The full story experience can last as long as 4 hours so make sure you have no plans after as all you will want to do, post this meal is roll into bed and dream happy!
The menu I picked was supposed to be an 8 course story but I counted atleast 15 different courses before giving up. Don’t get me wrong, I was expecting an amuse bouche of sorts, a palate cleanser along with petits fours thrown in during the meal but Restaurant Story operates in a completely different league. The appetisers that were served up were just as good if not better than the named menu. It’s hard not to be impressed by the intricately designed bites that are served up with theatrical precision by the seasoned team here.
The Cod Skin with Smoked Cod Roe was perfectly crispy and to my surprise, not overpoweringly fishy. The Courgette Flowers with Crispy Bacon Crumbs was not just beautiful to look at but packed an explosion of flavours. The now famous, ‘Storeo’ which is made out of squid ink and filled with eel cream and a light dusting of powdered vinegar was an absolute delight to eat and to look at. The Rabbit Sandwich topped with stunningly colourful sliced carrots pickled in bergamot and tarragon served up on a bed of grass was delicate yet comforting. Every single dish that was served up at Restaurant Story is designed to envelop the senses. I hadn’t even started my tasting menu and I was already having a food orgasm.
One of the highlights of the meal was a dish called Bread and Dripping. An unsuspecting looking candle was bought to the table and lit by our ever helpful waiter. I didn’t think much of it at that time but it became quite apparent that this was no ordinary candle, slowly dripped into the dish below. It made a lot more sense when the waiter brought over some bread and a small jar of beef extract and asked us to dunk the warm bread in the dripping candle – I was in food heaven!
What a great idea! Yes, it’s slightly showey but who cares? My senses were tingling and I felt like a kid in a candy shop waiting for my next sugar rush. Definitely one of the highlights of the afternoon.
Gifts from the Sea was one of my least favourite dishes but it was still easily an 8/10 for me. The langoustine was as fresh as it was ever going to get served up on a wonderful bed of green from the sea. I did find the dish a little too salty for my taste buds but most people would argue that it was to be expected from a dish called Gifts from the Sea. Top marks for presentation though.
As you can tell, I am a massive fan of Tom Sellers. One of the reasons I love his brave menu, is his ability to take a single ingredient and amplify it to star quality. The Onion, Apple and Old Tom is the perfect example of his bold cooking. A burnt onion dish served up with crispy onions and completed with an apple, gin and thyme consommé was nothing less of stunning. The Tomato Amuse Bouche that followed was just as delightful – fresh complex flavours that make you wonder how tomatoes could ever taste so good! Tom Sellers is a star and these dishes are all the proof you will ever need.
If you are regular reader of this blog, you know that I hate how little attention a lot of the fine dining restaurants put in the bread they serve up. It’s usually cold, boring and uninspiring. This is where Restaurant Story really stood out for me – the bread and dripping dish was spot on. I was also equally impressed with the Brioche served up with Foie Gras, Parsley and Truffle Butter. The Brioche was perfectly baked and the truffle butter made this dish even more special.
Next up was the Heritage Potato, Asparagus and Coal, a wonderful reminder of comfort food but with an interesting twist. The coal oil with it richness and complex flavours made this humble potatoes dish really pop. Potatoes have never been this exciting! I am a big fan of lamb and the Herdwick Lamb, Sheep’s Yoghurt and Ransom did not disappoint. The lamb was cooked perfectly and the garlic risotto it was served up on was spot on too. I was in my happy place.
If there weren’t enough surprises already, our waiter bought over a picnic basket. Yes, you read that right- a full fledged picnic basket with all the trimmings! Bread, cheese, condiments and beer galore, this meal was getting better with every bite. You would expect to be in a food coma with the amount of food that is dished up at Restaurant Story but the the fresh, light and well balanced dishes gives the diner the opportunity to savour every last bite.
Every dish at Restaurant Story was just about perfect but the Scallops, Cucumber and Dill Ash was a particular highlight. The thin slices of scallops were fresh, light and juicy. The cucumber balls dusted in subtle dill ash completed this stunner of a dish perfectly. This dish was summer on a plate and I would happily trade my soul for another plate!
I am happy to report that the desserts didn’t disappoint either. The Chocolate, Lovage and Oyster was a strange combination of chocolate and lovage ‘snow’ topped with some oyster leaves. It definitely isn’t your typical dessert but I wouldn’t expect anything less from a chef of Tom Sellers’ calibre. The herby dessert might not be to everybody’s taste but it does make you think (in a good way!). The Almond and Dill is slightly more traditional in it’s flavouring but the snow theme does get repetitive. Both dishes were fresh and light however – perfect after the vast amount of food you get through. They also push the boundaries of what a dessert dish should taste like and I applaud the team at Restaurant Story for that.
Unfortunately this was the end of the story but I could have happily stayed for another 4 hours and played fan girl to Tom Sellers’ imaginative dishes. Like I said at the start of this review, it’s rare that a restaurant gets every element of a fine dining experience so right – everything just works in perfect harmony at Restaurant Story. Tom Seller pushes boundaries and his bold dishes are reflective of this. At £80, fine dining at this level doesn’t get cheaper than this either. Add to this, service that is unobtrusive and impeccable, Tom Sellers is on to a winner. I cannot wait to see what his next story is going to be but in the meantime, I am going to be coming back and re-reading this story again and again.