Restaurant Story

June 8, 2013
Tom Sellers’ CV reads something like a who’s who of the restaurant world. Having turned up on the doorstep of Tom Aikens with no formal training and then moving on two years later to Thomas Keller’s Per se in New York; René Redzepi’s Noma in Copenhagen and then back to London at Adam Byatt’s Trinity restaurant (for me one of the most under-rated restaurants in London!); he certainly has had a wealth of experience in some of the top restaurants in the world. All of that and he’s only 26 years old!  A more focused and determined young man you would be hard-pushed to find. 
Restaurant Story is his first solo venture and opened in April in a disused toilet near London Bridge. It is called Story because it is meant to tell the story of Tom’s experiences through food. This area of London Bridge, previously a restaurant wasteland, is now fast becoming a foodie mecca with José Pizzaro, Zucca and the wonderful Borough Market just around the corner. Sitting on an island in the middle of the road surrounded by a pretty little garden, is a beautiful looking building of glass and wood that some have said looks like it wouldn’t be amiss on an Alpine ski slope. Inside, a small kitchen sits in a box made from the reclaimed glass and brick from its previous life as a public convenience. I really love the look of this place. 
We’ve hardly sat down and the amuse bouché (s) start coming out of the kitchen at break-neck speed and described to us just as quickly. Some were a hit and others, not so much. I’ll just write about my highlights, otherwise we may be here all day! 
Cod skin with carrot tops have been described by some as wafer-thin, but when ours arrived they were thicker and more like cracker bread. This amuse was a challenge for TBH who does not like fish at the best of times, but he ate it. I enjoyed the saltiness and the sharp snap of the skin and marvelled at the technique used to get the skin like that. 
Oreo (or Storeo as the waiter said) with an eel mousse was simply delicious. I am not sure what the biscuit was made of, initially I thought it may have been a coal biscuit, but it had a wonderful sweetness to it that complimented the strong-flavoured eel beautifully. 
The rabbit sandwich was an absolute winner for both of us even though there was the slightest hint of aniseed in the flavouring, but the combination of spices worked wonderfully for me. Maybe I am becoming a convert to the taste? It was a tender and juicy little morsel.
 
We ordered the 6 course tasting menu for £45, but there is also a 10 course tasting menu for £65. 

Onto the first course of the menu proper. Before all the amuses came out, the waiter brought over a candle in a charming old-school candle holder. How romantic. The candle melts and this would later become the dripping for the first course bread and dripping. The flavour of beef was intense and utterly more-ish. It came with a nice little compote of celery, finely diced veal tongue, and chicken jelly, quite challenging things for me to eat because celery is not one of my favourites, but I mopped it all up. The huge hunk of poppy seed bread came in a little leather sack to keep it warm and had we not had all those pre-starters, I would have demolished the whole lot. As it was, TBH had to ask the waiter to take the candle away to stop me from eating it in its entirety!  (Holder included!)

 
This next course was said to have taken inspiration from Tom Sellers love for the smell of fairground hotdogs and onions of his childhood and his love of gin. Burnt onion, apple, gin and thyme was fresh and light, although I couldn’t really detect any gin flavours. There have been lots of comparisons made between Tom Sellers and Ollie Dabbous and I must admit that looking at the dish, it is very similar to a dish that we had at Dabbous last year. It was a great dish none-the-less.
 
Beetroot, raspberry and horseradish.  A beautiful looking dish.  I really enjoyed the contrasting flavours – the sweetness from the beetroot, the sharpness from the raspberry and the ice cold but fiery horseradish. It tasted as good as it looked. We were left with nice red lips from the beetroot. OK on me, but not so becoming on TBH!

 

Next up we had pigeon, summer truffle, and pine. For TBH and I, this was our favourite dish and was served by Tom Sellers himself, which was a really nice touch. The pigeon had been cooked on the outside barbecue to a perfect medium rare. Cooking it on the barbecue gave the pigeon breast a lovely smoky flavour. It was perfect in every way. I just wish there were two pigeon breasts instead of just the one.

 

The first of the dessert courses was Lemon – sounds kind of plain and boring, it was anything but. All the different textures were interesting and it was a perfect dessert for someone who is not much of a sweet-tooth. I loved every spoonful.

 
And finally Three Bear’s porridge – as the story goes – one is too salty, one is too sweet and the other is just right!  The presentation was fun with the little drawing of the three bears and the stone bowls and spoon. Although the spoon made the dessert awkward to eat. I am not sure I enjoyed ending my meal with three bowls of porridge, I would’ve much preferred the Lemon for my final course; but it was clever and applied itself to the story theme of the restaurant beautifully.

 

The atmosphere in the restaurant is that of convivial merriment. Sitting where we were, we would hear shouts of “Yes, chef” every so often from the kitchen which really added to the buzz and excitement of the place. I liked how the chefs served some of the dishes they helped create, so you could really feel their passion when describing the dish. The waiting staff were all friendly and service was relaxed but professional. The sommelier made an excellent recommendation for a dessert wine for me and I loved the story about the little old lady who owns the vineyard of this particular wine.
 

With each service Tom puts a motivational quote up on the kitchen wall. I’ve also seen some of these quotes pop up on his twitter feed. After having a brief chat with the chef, I was lucky enough to be given the quote for the day that Tom had signed for me. He certainly is very driven and has talent by the bucket load and if our experience at his very first restaurant is anything to go by, then the sky is the limit for him!

 

The total bill including service, 3 beers, a champagne cocktail, a glass of wine and a dessert wine came to £159.75.

 

June is proving very busy for me with lots of gigs going on and I actually don’t have any more restaurant plans for the month…I’m going to need to rectify that quickly! Mmmmm where’s that bucket list….?
 
Until we eat again!
 
 

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