Jun 19 2013

Story

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Restaurant Story has become very popular in the last few months, I have had many people asking me in the last 2 months if I have been there, and getting a reservation these days is not that easy. Story is located just south of Tower Bridge, in a funny place in between roads where public toilets used to be situated just a few months ago. The owners of Story have got rid of the toilets and instead built a light wooden building that has around 15 tables inside. There is no big sign saying Story outside and I almost walked past this place when I was looking for it, and the only reason why I found it is because I had my google maps with the exact location of the restaurant. I had booked a table for 4 people for a Thursday dinner for my boyfriend, myself and my friend Bernie and his wife, and Bernie’s wife is a fellow food blogger and she had chosen this venue, so I had high expectations. I booked a table a few months ago and even then it was not easy to do it with many tables being booked already. In the end unfortunately Bernie and his wife could not make it, but instead my boyfriend and I owed a dinner to our friends Josh and Marieke, and we invited them instead, especially as Josh had mentioned to me a few weeks earlier he really wanted to go to Story. The inside of the restaurant is very cool, with many references to fairy tales, with various great elements like a bookcase (apparently you are encouraged to bring a book and leave it behind for others, which I did not know at the time when I went there), a story book that had the menu inside of it, a crow on one side of the room.

The main chef is Tom Sellers and he has worked in many great restaurants before, including Noma, and I did think Story was very similar to Noma in many ways, although  not quite there yet. You can chose to have a 6 course (for £45) or a 10 course (for £65) tasting menus (no a la carte), and we chose the 10 course one. Before you get to your 10 courses you get a series of snacks, or small amuse bouche, which is what Noma is known for, and people say Noma re-invented amuse bouche with the small snacks they give (out of the 23 courses I had at Noma when I went there 10 were small snacks). The difference though was that at Story they brought the snacks very quickly, literally one after the other, and it was not so quick at Noma. Our first snack was “cod skin with cod roe and carrot tops” which I did like but was not crazy about. The next one was a nasturtium flowers with oyster cream in the middle, and I had the same flower with lemon mouse as I don’t eat oysters, and I was not too keen on this one, as I don’t think it tasted particularly nice or interesting. The third snack was radishes with herb butter in them, and my boyfriend thought this was extremely “Noma like” as Noma loves to use vegetables, and I thought the radishes were ok, nicely presented with the herb butter in them and also tasted well. The fourth snack was peas which I thought was ok, but a bit boring to have this as a snack. The fifth one was orio biscuits with eel mouse, which I thought was the most creative and interesting snack so far but I can’t say it was particularly tasty. The sixth snack was the one that I (and most of the fellow dinners) liked the most, minced rabbit meat in a breaded parcel with carrots on top, wonderful presentation, interesting and tasty. The main observation that I have is that I thought Noma put much more effort into their snacks and all of them you thought were extremely creative and also taste wise interesting, and with some of these snacks in Story it just felt like they wanted to do a snack, and did not think too hard about them, but overall I love free food and things I get extra in addition to my tasting menu, and I did think a few of these were really cool, so I did enjoy these snacks.

Before the waiters started serving us snacks they had brought us a candle and put it in the middle of our table, which I thought was a normal practice in a restaurant that tried to make their atmosphere romantic, but it turned out this candle was edible, and was our first course “bread and dripping”. The waiter explained that the candle consisted of pure beef fat which they had frozen before, and as the candle was burning the beef fat was melting, and we were given some wonderful darkish bread and told to dip this into the melted fat. Whilst I thought the concept was extremely cool and top marks to them for creativity and doing something like this that I will remember for a long time, I did not think the beef fat was extremely delicious to eat (I don’t mind eating fatty stuff as long as it is tasty and I just did not feel like this was too tasty). We were also given some small cut up cubed celery and jellied chicken mix to eat with the bread and the beef fat. Our next dish was called “burnt onion, apple, gin and thyme” and was a burnt onion with gin and apple sauce with caramelized onion at the bottom and the waiter explained this was one of the favourite dishes of the chef as he loved burning vegetables (funnily when we were in Noma we were told that about the chef there, and it is not the same person). I personally did not like this dish. I understand the creativity that went into it and the thought and it did have interesting elements in it, but it did not taste good at all. The sauce was too overpowering and you could really feel the gin and a burnt onion does not taste of much and they had not made it nicer in any way. The third dish was called “scallops, cucumber and dill ash” and had thinly sliced scallops in a dill sauce with various leaves and small pieces of cucumber. I loved the thin scallop, very tasty and good quality scallop, but not sure all the other elements, as interesting as they were, really added a lot to the scallop. The forth dish and the last uncooked dish was called “mackarel, salad root and strawberry” and had a small piece of mackerel with thin shavings of green strawberries and salad root. Once again very interesting to put this together and very well presented, but I was not crazy about it. I love mackerel and I think the Ledbury does a great mackerel dish with cucumbers, and here it was just an average mackerel dish, whilst very creative.

The fifth course and the first cooked course was “fermented turnip, apple and baked potato” and it was a sort of little cake of turnip, apple and potato in a broth, and I actually really enjoyed it, and I would never have thought apple would work with this, but it did. It was also very pretty in yellow and orange shades. The next course was “beetroot, raspberry and horseradish”, another pretty dish with pieces of beetroot, strawberry with horseradish powder but once again I was not over the top by the use of these specific ingredients together, and did not find it too tasty. The last main course was the only course that had meat, and the men on our table were complaining about this (Noma was very similar and only brought us one meat dish), and it was “pigeon, summer truffle and pine”. The pigeon was ok, and I had recently had a pigeon dish in Hedone which I thought was one of the best pigeon dishes I have ever had, and this one did not compare well with Hedone pigeon as it was not as tender and delicious. It was served with various vegetables which were ok.

Next we moved on to the three deserts and the first desert was called “lemon” and had various things with lemon, lemon moose, lemon snow and other things, and tried to show different cooking techniques and ways how to use lemon. I like these sort of palette cleansing deserts which are very refreshing, so I did enjoy it. The second desert was called “prune tea, lovage and milk” and had prunes at the bottom, lovage (a green plant) sauce and milk skin (I had the same milk thing in Noma), and once again loved the work and skill involved in it, but not over the top in terms of how it tasted. The last desert was my favourite one and the only one that had a “story” in it. It was called “three bear’s porridge” and they brought you a cute picture of the three bears and it refers to the story where you have three porridges, one too sweet, one too salty and one just right and the waitress did not tell us which one was witch and we had to find out for ourselves by tasting the different porridges. I actually really liked the too salty and too sweet porridges (from left the first two in the picture), and preferred this to the “just right” porridge on the right hand side which had fruit. I really liked the thought that had gone into the desert, the presentation and it was very cool to have a story to the desert.

At the end of our meal we all agreed that Story could be so much more than it is now. We loved the skill involved in the dishes and loved the snacks at the start, we just wish a bit more thought in terms of how it tastes together had gone into it, as a lot of the dishes despite the great ingredients and the amazing presentation and colours on your plate were not that tasty. Also it is an amazing idea to have a story next to the dishes you eat, and if they had more dishes like the “three bears’ porridge” it would be much better, as then this restaurant would really stand out from the others. I also very much liked the beef fat candle as this shows skill and is something that people have not seen before and does not feel like it is “mini Noma”. On their website they say they have “created a personal journey through food” and they see “food as our story books”, and you can’t really feel it at the moment. At the moment it just feels like a good, not a great, attempt to be like Noma.

Date: 19/06/13
Location: Tower Bridge
Price for 4 people with alcohol and service charge: £437.63

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4.00

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Story
201, Tooley Street, SE1 2UE.
London
United Kingdom
GB
Story Reviewed by Hungry Bee Maija on . Rating: 4