Before starting his own Restaurant Story, Tom Sellers worked with some famous folk including Tom Aikens and René Redzepi. Now running his own establishment, this modern Southwark dining room sits on an odd crossroad and gazes across to a uniquely London view.
No doubt you’ll have heard of the gimmick that starts all of his meals-off. Interesting, certainly inventive, challenging maybe. Some people will be amazed by Sellers’s candle made-out of beef dripping and others will find this to be a bit of pageantry. The result is that the salty fat melts, which you sop-up with some good quality bread. Surprisingly, this is a course, not ‘just the bread’, which is perhaps a failure to add some value to the dining experience.
Beyond this entertaining first course, you may find the experience has a few ups and downs. Well, maybe not downs, but more flat moments.
Though where the chef shows-off his excellence, is definitely with the dishes where the produce comes to the fore. The confit onion and tarty apricot is a good example of this. The onion has burnt edges, but no taste of burn. The 24 hour consommé with rapeseed oil has a deep rich flavour. The dish’s simplicity makes it exceptional, coming together piece by piece. The smokiness of the onion counterbalances the sweetness of the apricot. It’s sumptuous success.
But then the story stops for another course with a pseudo aligot-style heritage potato with coal and turnips. While the dish is wonderfully presented and there is a good earthy flavour, it seems like it should be more of a side dish. Dressing wise, the dandelion vinegar provides and interesting lift but the coal coloured fluid doesn’t add a great deal to the dish overall.
For the main dish, you get a better appreciation of the maestro in his kitchen with this surprising and clever veal, cooked sous-vide, quite acidic, with a muscovado purée. Though it’s the very clever peas and green melon balls mixed together in harmony that really surprise. Sweet as you’ll rarely find, this element makes this dish a real hit.
To finish, you end-up with a deconstruction of Black Forest gateau flavours. An odd mix of chocolate corn flakes with berry sorbet and a selection of berries; not very ground breaking. While it’s not bad, it doesn’t excite or inspire.
So overall, it’s hard to know what this restaurant story is trying to tell us. You’ll find dining a pleasant experience and perhaps a bit like you’ve been transported to Scandinavia with the sleek wooden interior. From a cooking perspective, this is a promising challenge on the London scene and Sellers is certainly is delivering something new. Though, restaurants need more than fresh and pretty looking plates to succeed. Great products play a part, which Restaurant Story definitely has covered. Though, we don’t feel that it is delivering the technique and complexity of flavour that others say that it is. However, there is definitely a solid base to work from.