Restaurant Story 333

201 Tooley Street , London, SE1 2UE

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SquareMeal Review of Restaurant Story

Squaremeal London Hot 100 2016“Beat a path to their door today!” insists one fan, and he’s not alone in thinking Tom Sellers’ Michelin-starred eatery is something special. There’s little comfort in the stark interiors (bare tables, concrete floors, bright lighting) and you’ll be expected to shell out £110 for the full ‘story’, but eating here is worth every penny. Sellers is a hugely talented chef and his “fantastically creative” taster menu really “brings the food to life”, with a succession of appetisers, interludes and pre-desserts taking punters from one ‘chapter’ to the next. The kitchen is occasionally accused of try-hard gimmickry, but most are enraptured: “some of the most imaginative and delicious flavours I’ve ever encountered”, says one convert. The now-famous beef-dripping candle and a cheese course presented in a tiny picnic hamper bookend a repertoire shot through with Nordic influences: crispy cod skin with tiny turnips; a maritime cornucopia involving fleetingly marinated scallop ceviche, razor clams, devilled crab, seaweed etc; fallow deer four ways with yeast and dandelion, and – as a happy ending – a combo of bitter chocolate, wild berries and buttermilk. “A superb gastronomic experience.”

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7.8

Food & Drink: 7.7

Service: 8.8

Atmosphere: 7.2

Value: 7.2

Food & Drink: 3.0

Service: 3.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 3.0

Nevine H. silver reviewer 30 March 2014

Basic bare decor, we had window table lovely view of Shard, concrete floor so no soundproofing which means it can get loud and noisy, attracts quite a young crowd. They start with several ‘snacks’, which kept coming fast and furious while we were still waiting for our wine which eventually came near the end!! After that they were only too fast to replenish our glasses so that we had finished well before the end of our 6 course menu so we had to order an extra glass! Now down to the food. Dishes were hit or miss. Of the ‘snacks’, cod skin – yuk, pretentious, beef dripping candle which I don't get – would much have preferred a nice french butter as the bread was good. Rabbit sandwich – small morsel, beautiful and quite delicous and so was the black pudding if that's your thing (not mine but my husband liked it). We ordered one of the ‘supplement’ dishes – raw beef with truffle – comes to the table in an apple surrounded by smoking ice – stunning. Absolutely delicious, but would suggest ordering one to share just for the theatre of it. Cooking includes some very basic ingredients which are so creatively designed and beautifully executed – onions – amazing, potato superb. Main dish was lamb, 3 small pieces – cheek, belly and loin – exquisite, the best we have ever eaten but the lettuce served alongside was far too bitter for our taste. Desserts… strange yoghurts/ ice creams / bowl cereal… I would have preferred a tarte au citron or a piece of chocolate!! Finally the service. Most waiters knew detail about each course including the cooking processes though unfortunately most of them were almost unintelligable with strong foreign accents and did not seem particularly interested in our comments. Story is like another Dabbous but not in the same league.

Food & Drink: 2.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 2.0

Value: 2.0

Monikasays platinum reviewer 14 August 2013

I really wanted to love this place, it has had fab reviews ,' the new Heston', ‘ Noma trained’. Unfortunately it was a real earth shattering disappointment, so much so, that i was craving KFC after. Firstly, the location seemed to be in the middle of traffic central in London Bridge. Floor to ceiling windows need a good view, throughout dinner i had to watch white vans, red buses and tourists escaping the unusual tropical downpours recently in London. The ambience was terrible, bright lighting, stark walls, tables too far apart, no buzz at all. The food was novel and beautiful to look at, but it just was not tasty. I felt like i was eating foliage for half the meal. The bread and dripping was novel, but to be honest dipping bread in saturated fat is no fun. We had the never ending tasting menu, which took hours. There was the tartest turnip dish i have ever eaten, so pretty and delicate but so tart. The veal was chewy, complete faux pas in any restaurant. The mackerel was boring and nothing compare to the Ledbury mackerel. The pluses were the desserts which included a lemon crunchy delicious thing and cute chocolate marshmallows and shakes. The 3 bears puddings incited some conversation and tested our palates but again not tasty. There were moments of brilliance but the bottom line was i was not sated, a must in any fine meal.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 4.0

Nicole G. silver reviewer 05 June 2013

Lewis Carroll's well known story of the girl who enters a strange unexpected world where she encounters incredible characters through many unbelievable experiences, some more pleasant than others, is very much paralleled in Tom Seller's new restaurant Story. Whatever you think of the food and the decor, it's completely unforgettable. The actual restaurant is one large room on an island between two roads in Tooley St. The large windows make it bright and light and airy. Simple design means nothing really detracts from the menu and that is definitely the star here. We took the 10 course tasting menu for £65 but before we even ordered, we were given a selection of unusual amuse bouche. The cod skin with roe was interesting, a nasturtium (I wasn't expecting to be eating flowers but why not) with oyster mayonnaise was lovely but the rabbit finger was absolutely exceptional. That was the prologue and then the first chapter arrived. A beef candle dripping into a dish and sourdough bread. Sitting in a lovely wooden restaurant I was transported to winter in Victorian England. The taste brought out exactly what we imagine that era to be but with a modern twist. Very filling, very moreish, incredibly tasty. From that point on the menu was definitely a range of experiences which were just stunning and theatrical and completely unparalleled. I could have done without the beetroot dish but that's mostly because I hate beetroot and though fresh, this was very beetroot and my mum thought the scallops with cucumber and dill ash were tasteless. Though we both loved the Heritage potato with barley, asparagus and coal oil (not my first experience coal oit – thank you Roganic!) which was just such a beautiful blend of flavours. The 3 bears porridge polarised opinion…I found the one ‘just right’ was very unpleasant – somehow too sharp, so Goldilocks I clearly was not but then they never did say which one was supposed to be ‘just right’ so perhaps I'm still in the running. It's a long menu but the staff move through it very quickly…in fact at times a little too quickly. Maybe because it was lunch but I'd like them to slow the service down just a tad (first time I've ever said that) and give us a little time to breathe between each course. It's not a restaurant where every dish is a triumph but like Alice, if you want to have an innovtive, theatrical and just a little bit magical experience, then Story is definitely worth a visit.

Food & Drink: 3.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 4.0

Matt P. gold reviewer 27 May 2013

You might call the food at Story ‘Noma-influenced’ or ‘Scandinavian’, but perhaps a better term would be ‘Protestant’. Think of a cold, grey church in Copenhagen, untroubled by the bells and smells of Catholic competitors in the Mediterranean, and that's Story's spiritual home. It's the absolute polar opposite of an Italian trattoria knocking out spaghetti puttanesca and carbonara. Indeed, in the very final course, one of the porridge dishes is deliberately served too salty – possibly a first for sackcloth and ashes dining. Throughout the menu it is impossible to find a dish that could remotely be described as an indulgence; often there were sour or bitter flavours. The most prominent use of fat in the meal – in the bread & dripping – came in a form reminiscent of the poorhouse. This is not to say that the meal was bad and in fact it was pleasingly inventive. But often its greatest interest was as an intellectual exercise – for example, “I wonder whether strawberry and mackerel go together?” (answer: “not really”). The menu seemed to me very heavily influenced by Simon Rogan, in terms of the appearance of the food, the starring roles for humble vegetables and the preference for typically British ingredients. But unlike Rogan, who I consider a demigod, here there were misfires in both presentation (burnt onions came in ungainly wide slivers rolling around on the plate) and flavours (a few garnishes had no taste at all). The room is nice but not luxurious. Staff were keen and friendly but I was a bit put out not to get any reaction when I brought along a 40-year-old Penguin paperback. (You are encouraged to bring a book to ‘spread the story’ or somesuch – if you're going to run a gimmick, at least give a pat on the head to the diners who play along.) Value for money was good – our ten course meal was £65 – but you're not getting the same mind-bendingly original technique as at, say, Rogan's Manchester outlet where the long tasting menu doesn't cost much more. Would I return? Paul Hood of Social Eating House recently sounded off about “young chefs who try to run before they can walk”. I do wonder if he had Story in mind. But the chef Tom Sellers is obviously an ambitious, talented and above all creative bloke – so there's no cause for excommunication, and I hope in time to give it another try.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 4.0

Nicole M. 29 April 2013

Story can be found in a rare unconventional location for a restaurant – in an old toilet block….. However, this old block and has been taken down and the site has been used to rebuild a romantic square block of glass and slatted timber. The views of the Shard and Tower Bridge brings additional romance to this modern novel. There is a small bar and the restaurant sits about 40 covers. The kitchen is half glass and half brick (the brick being from the old toilet block) and it invites you to watch the hustle and organised chaos of a kitchen. The diners have 2 options here – either a 6 course taster menu (£45) or a 10 course taster menu (£65). As this was a Thurs night my dinner guests and I opted for the 6 course taster menu. The food is all seasonal and British and it is certainly an experience for the diner. 3 tasters were bought to our table for us to sample whilst deciding on drinks. The courgette flowers with oyster crackling, rabbit shortbread with beetroot and carrot and crispy fish skin with fish emulsion were all so different to anything I have ever eaten before. The chefs here certainly are wanting you to experiment with food and go on a journey with them. The first course was Bread and Dripping – this was a candle made from smoked beef fat. It sat on an old fashioned candle stick holder (think Wee Willie Winkie) with a small well on the bottom so as the candle burned it caused the fat to slowly drip and collect enticing you to dip the beautiful crusty bread. This was accompanied with veal tongue, pickled horseradish and meat jelly to cut through the fat if required. I’m afraid my taste buds do not quite stretch to veal tongue so I was more than content with dipping my bread into this beef fat invention. Following on from this was by Burnt Onion with Apple, Gin and Thyme consume – the onions were succulent yet had a beautiful bite to them glistening in the consume. There was some bread left over from the beef dripping dipping – this was made from rotten apples and treacle – this sweet, crispy bread was perfect for soaking in the consume once the onion had been consumed. Next were Scallops with Cucumber and dill ash. The scallops were served ceviche style and sat on a streaking green sauce with a scattering of herbs with little spheres of cucumber. The plate resembled lily pads – just a beautifully crafted dish. I am a Ceviche fan and have only had it Peruvian style – Tom Sellers has taken a South American Dish and put an English twist on this which was light, earthy and rounded in taste and textures. The main course in the taster menu was Beef cheek, stout and cauliflower yeast. Having never tried beef cheek I was unsure what to expect. The knife cut through the cheek like butter – it was succulent, mouth-wateringly divine. There were small areas of fat within the meat that made the mouthfuls more tender. I am a fan of cauliflower and think that it is under used within our restaurants so to see this paired with the beef was a delight. It was soft with a seared taste to it. If you add a bottle of wine and a cocktail it does become a little expensive. The wine list offers a broad array of wines, however, the most reasonably priced wine here is still approx £40. However, the food is great value for money Dessert was a rhubarb and custard cream soda, served in a school milk bottle with a straw. This was delivered in a small milk crate. This tasted like rhubarb and custard sweets – sublime. The final dish was 3 Bears pudding….. this was served with a lovely 3 bears drawing and the dishes were muddled so you had to guess which one was Too Sweet, Too Salty and Just right. Whilst Oats is not a traditional desert this is a nice final chapter to Toms Story – Just Right.

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 5.0

Value: 4.0

clare d. bronze reviewer 18 April 2013

We were lucky enough to get a table for the second night that this restaurant was open and whilst expecting great food, we were prepared for the usual teething troubles with a new place. We were very pleasantly surprised to find that not only was the food every bit as fantastic as we were expecting but that the service was sleek and friendly and the kitchen, which is in a glass box in the corner of the dining room, seemed relaxed. The Chef was very visible, serving some dishes and explaining the ingredients and the matching wines were all delicious. We had the 10 course tasting menu and the amount of food is just about right – even with the several amuse bouche served before hand tho was a stretch to make room for the homemade marshmallows – but definitly worth it! All courses were really good but for me the highlight was the Beetroot with rasberries and horseradish ice -an unexpected but delicious combination. It is not a cheap night out, but its worth every penny and definitly worth trying if you are lucky enough to be able to get in.

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