Let me tell you a story.
It happens to be a food story, but I’m sure you’ve already guessed that. Grab a drink and maybe some snacks, it’s going to be a long one.
Once upon a time, a month ago to be exact, we booked a table at Restaurant Story.
I just love having something to look forward to, don’t you? That feeling of excitement about a future trip or event that is worth counting down the days. One of my favourite things I look forward to has always been trying a new restaurant. There’s something about the curiosity and wonder of how it will look, what dishes will be served, how they’ll be presented, and of course, how they’ll taste!
When Restaurant Story was opened last year by Tom Sellers, I added it to the foodie bucket list and casually followed the hype, planning to get there sooner or later. Well, it’s later and here we are, wandering down a street parallel to the river, catching glimpses of a gloriously lit Tower Bridge through gaps in buildings. Clutching my iPhone like a trusted compass, we watch as the little blue dot carelessly passes our destination on the map. Confused, we turn back to find Restaurant Story sitting in the middle of a fork in the road.
We head inside, greeted by a spotlit host who takes our coats and hangs them on the coatrack by the door. I notice that ours are the only coats hanging and wonder has everyone somehow decided it’s warm enough for coatless outings already? Ever the observer, after being seated I noticed the coats being transported to a coat room just outside the door. A sweet, welcoming gesture adding to the already homely decor.
There’s sort of a Nordic, retro feeling to the room, mixed with touches of home and a modern addition from the view of the Shard out of the floor to ceiling windows. The kitchen is tucked in the corner, behind a stone wall and glass panel, but still maintains being the focal point of the room. In the centre, a converted smoker plays home to cutlery, the cash register, flickering candles, and two ominous stuffed crows overlooking diners.
After settling in, a flurry of snacks arrived one after the other.
First, two delicate pieces of crispy cod skin with smoked cod roe emulsion, carrot tops and gin botanicals.
An expertly chosen, if not a little odd, combination of flavours with an inviting texture. More striking, however, was the clear time and effort that went into the presentation.Next were radishes filled with seaweed butter.
These were okay. A refreshing, raw bite with interesting flavour, but nothing outstanding. I appreciated the message of natural ingredients, but combined with an entire chunk of butter, felt a little unwarranted.
Moving swiftly on, the arrival of the Storeo. Take no notice of their innocent appearance. These badass biscuits are the savoury version of America’s favourite Oreo cookie, made from squid ink biscuits and filled with smoked eel.
Where can I get a sleeve of these to twist and lick as a naughty treat?
Then came the polenta crisp topped with carrot jam, malt soil & slices of carrot.
These had a completely satisfying crunch and lovely sweetness to them. Again, I’d happily have a cabinet full of Story snacks to nibble on throughout the day!
A candle was then unassumingly lit and left on the table, adding a little romance and evoking curiosity.
It would soon prove to be the greatest candle ever. But, you’ll have to wait to find out why I’m excitedly planning a way to fill my home with these candles in future.
And no skipping ahead, cheeky!
Delicate razor clams with champagne snow & crispy pearl barley were next. This was surprisingly tasty, with a nice crunch from the barely and subtle tang as the champagne snow melted on my tongue.
I promptly decided that all canapés should be served on razor clams. They’re like nature’s elegant, miniature food shovel. Anyone else for this idea? No? Just me then. The snack story is not complete yet! And I couldn’t have been more pleased as the next to arrive were shockingly delicious.
Simply titled, black pudding with green apple was not something I thought would be worth taking note. Yet, with the spongy texture of the black pudding and tang of the green apple, it was a truly tasty bite.
Don’t you love when a dish pleasantly surprises you? I think it’s possibly my favourite thing about trying new foods. The last of the rapid fire Story snack round did not disappoint. A rabbit sandwich with tarragon cream & carrot pickled in bergamot.
Fried, filled bread with tender rabbit and a sweet but sour addition from the pickled carrot made a sandwich I’d like a much larger version of for lunch.
Seven snacks later, in an almost intoxicating excitement, we placed our orders for the 10 course tasting menu.
This was when the magic, mystery candle was revealed.
A leather pouch of soda bread with a sort of deconstructed chicken terrine arrived.
This was incredibly flavoursome with chicken consommé and pickled vegetables and paired beautifully with the candle.
That’s right. An edible candle.
The flickering light of the candle slowly melted into a pool of beautiful beef dripping.
The smoky, seeded soda bread was merely a vehicle for large dunks of dripping which felt deliciously naughty. As we wiped the holder clean, a new pool would form as the fat dripped down the edge seductively.
Who says a food story can’t be food porn?
I know you’re probably thinking this story is coming close to the end, but this was only the beginning of the courses.
Next to arrive, onion, apple and old tom.
Simple, fresh and and full of flavour, this continued to showcase the seasonal, British produce which stars the menu.
Scallops, cucumber and dill ash arrived sitting pretty in the middle of an enormous plate. I loved the subtlety of the flavours enhancing that of the scallop. The ash covered cucumber slightly distracted from the taste, however visually appealing. But, was still an excellent dish overall.The next dish was, put simply, sexy.
It’s almost disappointing knowing that I will never have mashed potato as good as this ever again. Almost.
My head swimming from the previous carby creation, an elegantly presented plate of crab, smoked leek, rapeseed, pear and lovage arrived. This was good, but the flavours were subtle and slightly overpowered by the smoked leek. The room buzzed as we watched other diners enjoy courses yet to come. Another pretty plate showcased a delicate display of wild stems, squid and pine honey. This was then drowned in what the chef fondly referred to as an ‘umami party.’ The texture of the squid was nice, but unfortunately I couldn’t taste it. The umami flavouring was great with the freshness of the wild stems, but I really wanted the squid to stand out more. The last of our savoury courses was delivered as perfect closure. Lamb three ways with grilled salad and sheep’s yogurt was an incredible execution of stunning flavours from simple ingredients.
We then had a palette cleanser as a little break following the 14 different dishes we had tried so far.
Rapeseed ice cream, sea buckthorn granita and crumble.
This was very odd. We were told to ensure we had a little bit of each ingredient in each bite, or else the sourness of the granita would be overpowering. It was incredibly sour, but strangely turned to a sweetness on the palette as the rapeseed ice cream and crumble took over. My date was not a fan of this dish, but I didn’t mind it.
And anyways, I was too busy squirming in my seat for what was next to come.
If you follow me on Instagram, you’re somewhat aware that I previously had a minor freakout about the next dish when trying something similar at Duck & Waffle.
Foie gras crème brûlée with pear & sorrel is a beautiful sentence. Contrary to D&W’s outrageously decadent brunch item, this was a refined sliver serving a different purpose. The presentation was stunning and the textures entertaining, all tied together with a fresh, sweet and slightly salty flavouring.
The story isn’t over yet! If you’ve made it this far without just skipping ahead to look at all the food porn, I’m impressed. We’re almost done, however when dining at Restaurant Story, it isn’t a story you’ll wish to end.
A big bowl of hay ice cream with prune and cereal was next to try. The oversized bowl was finished with a splash of milk at the table, causing the crunchy, nutty grains to swirl around. The hay ice cream was subtle but gave way to the sweetness of the prune compote, which was nestled under a layer of milk skin.
I think this is exactly what you would expect a Michelin starred bowl of cereal to embody.
The last of our desserts was almond & dill.Almond and dill?! you’re asking.
I know, I know. But this is one of those unexpected surprises we discussed earlier. Almond ice cream, ground almond and dill snow are amazingly a match made in heaven. The freshness from the dill paired with the sweetness of the almond are delightful and textures are incredibly amusing.
Slightly sugar high and delirious from our whirlwind of adventure through Tom Seller’s story of a menu, we watched the kitchen prepare its final dishes of the evening as the restaurant began to slowly empty from a busy buzz to a soft murmur. As full as we were, and as many courses as we had just consumed, nothing will ever prevent me from getting excited by an after dessert. (Smiling greedily)
After desserts are like little kisses goodbye from a restaurant, possibly to sweeten to pain of the bill, but probably to give you one final, delicious taste. Mini milk bottles of rhubarb & custard and tiny teacakes filled with raspberry coulis and rose meringue were placed on the table. The cakes were a soft cloud of sweetness with sharp raspberry to cut through the meringue’s floral notes.
The custard bottle was the perfect size for my little hands and now seriously stunted appetite. At the top was incredibly rich vanilla custard and hiding at the bottom, sour punches of rhubarb. I created a genius method of moving my straw upwards through the layers for each sip to ensure a balanced combination of both sweet and sour entered my mouth. I guess I could’ve just stirred it up, but this way was more fun.
I hope you enjoyed hearing this story as much as I enjoyed telling (tasting) it.
As the name suggests, an evening here tells a story; a tall tale of inspirational dishes, abstract decor and attentive service.
I forgot to mention that in the corner of the restaurant stands two large bookshelves filled with books. They encourage diners to bring a book with them to add to their ever-growing collection in hopes that another guest may find inspiration from them. Wrapped up in excitement that the day had finally come, I completely forgot to bring my literary donation and have decided this means I simply must pay Restaurant Story another visit.
I’d definitely recommend a romantic evening or leisurely lunch spent nibbling away at Restaurant Story. Tables are released a month in advance and you can book online here.
Speaking of stories, have you told any good ones lately? I’d love to read your blog, (whether or not it’s food related) so please leave a link in the comments and I’ll happily check it out!