Tom Sellers might be young (26), he might have a good PR team (he does), but thankfully this restaurant and what is presented on one’s plate does actually live up to the hype (it really does). Restaurant Story in London Bridge delivered a calm and cool fairytale of a meal, that has us eager to encounter the next chapter of this tale.
The ethos behind Story is to bring its guests ‘a personal journey through food, which has been crafted and inspired by the journeys of others and ourselves. Our dream is to inspire people to take their own journeys – creating stories not just of food, but of everything that has played significance and holds a memory. We see food as our storybooks and want our guests to share this story, leaving their own stories with us along the way. Our dream is for all guests to leave a book at Story, which will remain there to evoke the inspiration in others that we hope our food will evoke in you. We look forward to sharing our stories’ (Restaurant Story, Tom Sellers).
With a name that ignites the imagination, Restaurant Story had us intrigued from the beginning; from the history of Tom, the head chef, who has worked his way up through the ranks (Tom Aitkens, Noma and Trinity – Adam Byatt is backer/ mentor in this project) and is obviously a talented chef, to the site which once upon a time – belonged to an old public toilet. The location too is a bit of a punt, although we are massive fans of London Bridge, Borough and Bermondsey, the situation of the restaurant (on a fork) on a substantial road, is not an obvious choice.
Step inside the restaurant and feel instantly at ease, as service staff – wearing smart but casual denim shirts and black jeans, welcome you in. This is not what we expected at all; somehow I had a picture of a higgledy pigglety book shop, in a warehouse or other some such trendy space. What you actually get is an almost pavilion feeling space with a light, natural, peaceful interior with a semi open, glass encased kitchen.
The design and décor create a restaurant that feels very tranquil and contemporary. There are uncluttered walls with simple pendant lights allowing the food to do the talking but presentation is clearly important here too. We love this current trend of more earthy handmade crockery, which we have seen at the likes of at The Clove Club, The Dairy and also here at Story, every plate deservedly caught our attention with the collection. Ceramics designer Lok Ming Fung, was commissioned to create a beautiful backdrop for Tom’s food.
The service was smooth, all the knowledge and panache of fine dining with the casual charms of a more local eatery, where one can relax into the experience. We encountered a level of service formal enough for the city folk and cool enough for your fashionistas and creatives.
Sample menus: 3 courses, £35; 6 courses, £45; 10 courses, £65
Bread and dripping
Burnt onion, grape and thyme
Scallops, cucumber and dill ash
Crab, smoked Leek, rapeseed, pear and lovage
Lamb heart, salad root and artichoke
Beef cheek, stout and cauliflower yeast
Beetroot, raspberry and horseradish
Rhubarb and custard cream soda
Three Bears’ Porridge
We ate: A 3-course menu for lunch. I chose: Crab, Smoked Leek, Rapeseed, Pear and Lovage. My guest: Scallop cucumber and dill. Followed by – Beetroot, Raspberry and Horseradish. For my guest, Beef cheek, Stout and Cauliflower Yeast. Desserts included: The Three Bears porridge and ‘Lemon’.
Each dish was placed in front of us proudly, explained enough to make you feel comfortable about what you might be about to consume and each beautifully presented. Food was colourful; the actual produce doesn’t feel like it has been messed with too much, it is more about the flavours, texture combinations and contrasts. Some dishes were almost too beautiful to eat… almost.
The ‘Lemon’ dessert was stand out for both of us. The various flavours, temperatures and textures, the refreshing nature of the dish meant that you finish your meal on a high, refreshed and uplifted. I can’t say the same for The Three Bears Porridge, which felt a little heavy for the end of a meal.
One of Restaurant Story’s signature dishes is the Bread & Dripping: an (lit at the table) edible candle with warm bread to mop up the melted ‘wax’. Apparently diners are instructed to blow it out once finished, which signals the arrival of the remaining courses from the open-plan kitchen. We love the idea but in our experience, we were not told – instead the candle kept melting and then solidifying, which meant you had tepid, congealing animal fat in front of you. Lovely, I am sure if executed in the correct manner/timing.
As one would expect there is an intelligent wine list, with decent options by the glass (£6 gls – Viognier). Apparently, Tom and team spent months crafting the perfect list to complement the menu. There are some exciting bottles listed with much personality. There is also a range of craft ales keeping things local, with the likes of Bermondsey Table Beer and Indian Pale Ale from the neighbouring Kernel brewery.
Yes. WE would like to be wined and dined here and would recommend this as an option for those that appreciate the artistry that is presented plate-side. At lunch time three courses was more than sufficient and makes for an easy and impressive work lunch date (only taking 1.5 hours). Restaurant Story offers six and ten course tasting menus at £45 and £65 respectively, or diners can choose any three dishes from either for £35 at lunchtime.
Restaurant Story/ 201 Tooley Street/ SE1 2UE/ 020 7183 2117
Tues-Sat 12-4pm (seating 12-2pm), 6.30-11.30pm (seating 6.30-9pm) bookings taken every month for the following month only
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