Today was one of those unexpectedly spectacular days! I started off planting poppies in the moat of the Tower of London in memory of everyone who died in the First World War. A fabulous, moving experience creating something beautiful to behold. And then I walked over Tower Bridge (a beautiful thing in itself) to my lunchtime venue.
Restaurant Story opened in April 2013. It’s a quirky little building with a modern interior and walls lined with bookshelves. When it comes to ordering, there’s a six or 10-course menu. On hearing our discussion on our menu indecision, the manager came over and suggested that we did the six-course menu as well as a three-course one. The smaller one came with a range of “snacks” beforehand, sounded fascinating, so we went with his suggestion.
Well, what can I say. I’m not a huge fan of over-complicated, scientific food usually, but this array from Chef Tom Sellers is show-stopping. Cleverly presented, often eliciting gasps on arrival at the table, it also all (more importantly) tasted amazing. The “snacks” were magnificent. First off this crispy cod skin– crunchy, fishy and salty, love the way that it looks like a field of turnips/carrots.
A little omelette came with chives and salmon roe, beautiful colours, flavours and textures.
This could have been the best bite of the day. Rabbit polenta, topped with pickled carrots (love the colours). The tastiest of rabbit is wrapped in soft polenta and then fried. Wow!
Smoky chicken kebabs, the tenderest of flavoursome chicken. And properly smoky too, for a real taste sensation.
And then…yes we are still on snacks…this foaming bowl arrived at our table.
Once the spectacle settled down we were presented with an arrangement that looked like a beautiful garden beneath the sea. Razor clams, scallop ceviche-style, devilled crab and amazing marinated prawn where the meat had been taken out, chopped, marinated and replaced into the perfectly cut shell. And some seaweed and other foliage for decoration plus bright orange nasturtiums for a splash of colour and a floral taste.
Now we were on to the main menu. By now of course, you’re aware that nothing is going to be what you think it is (in a good way). The first half of the Bread and Dripping arrived in the form of a candle! Our waitress told us that a lot of the dishes here are inspired by the history of British food, and apparently candles did used to be made from dripping back in the day. All I know is it tasted delicious, and again, looked lovely, too – love the candle holder.
Freshly baked, warm bread to dip into the dripping was served with a delicious little bowl of veal tongue and horseradish. Clearly this is not your usual bread opening to a meal!
The next dish was created because the chef loves onions! Onion, apple and old Tom. We soon discovered that old Tom is gin and mixed with the apple made the delicious juice for the beautifully cooked onions.
And how about some Heritage potato, radish and coal? It arrived as a neat little bundle of mashed potato…
Then once you cut into it with your spoon out came the coal oil. No clue how they make coal oil and it doesn’t have a huge amount of flavour but the effect of the whole was so beautifully sweet and creamy and it looked so lovely.
Now it’s time for the “main course”. I was pleased to see this work of art wasn’t huge. Often with tasting menus the last course is way too large for me. Here we have Fallow deer, yeast and dandelion. So the deer was cooked four ways: a meatball, samosa, fillet and belly. Never has venison tasted so luscious.
Before dessert, a between course arrived. A miracle in lemon, I reckon. This little dish of yellowness included something the waitress described as lemon snow. A startlingly intense lemony mouthful that exploded in the mouth. Wow, again!
Two desserts – first off bitter chocolate, wild berries and buttermilk. Fantastic for chocolate addicts.
And then the final dish described as almond and dill on the menu. So now you really don’t know what to expect. The plate was delivered with the explanation: “Everything white on the plate is almond and everything green is dill.” Now, dill ice cream, there’s a revelation. I’m really not a huge pudding eater but I must admit to scoffing this down with delight.
Phew, that was quite something. I loved Restaurant Story. Despite consuming a huge amount of dishes, they were all small enough to enable me to enjoy the whole menu with ease. Okay, it’s not a cheap lunch with the six-course menu going for £65. But with the attention to detail and amazingly spectacular flavours, I think it’s worth every penny.
I certainly recommend you go hungry to really make the most of it. And when you’re replete at the end of your meal, take a meander over Tower Bridge and admire the beautiful ornate, blue bridge and the London skyline. If it’s before 12 November you can also go and see the spectacle that is the poppy display at the Tower. Remember I planted some of those…and feel very proud, too.
Restaurant Story is at 199 Tooley Street, just south of Tower Bridge.