For a very treaty birthday treat, I took my boyfriend to Tom Sellers’ Michelin-starred Restaurant Story.
It was extra special because it was a proper budget blower for us. I’d just got a new credit card though, so, it’s not real money is it? He likes food, but I love food, so this also had the delightful stink of underhand self-gifting about it. I did at least look first, to check it was going to be his type of fodder. We’re the opposite; I like my mouth blown to pieces whereas, left to his own devices, he would mainly just eat beige. The menu looked like it was apparently simple, new takes on ye olde English grub. Potentially perfect. And if he’d ended up hating it, well, it would have been revenge for the year my birthday present was a special edition boxed set of the Alien films.
The idea is that the night tells you a tale, the menu being inspired by Story’s childhood memories. Uh oh, I worried, that sounds a bit wank. Thankfully not; it all worked. From the easy, egalitarian booking policy to the every last mouthful being amazing.
It feels warm and candley with nothing fiddly about it, so there’s no fretting that you’re going to break something or get stared at. Even when at one point you have to actually eat a candle, everyone’s doing it. There are books all over the shop which are knowingly unpretentious. Now, I’ll tuck into a Game of Thrones or similar fluff but they needn’t have gone so far as having Stieg Larsson books in there. Those are shit. But we get it, Tom, you’re not a snob. And it all added to ‘the theatre’, as they say on Masterchef. As did the fact that the staff all seemed as excited about the food as we were.
We went for the 10-course menu, because it’s not every day you get the opportunity to spaff a load of money and pretend it’s altruism. Oh God. It was all so good. There were even mini-courses inbetween the things we were expecting. Get in. I want you to go there, even if it means saving up for a year. All in, with cocktails and wine, it was about £250. I know. It’s a LOT. If you’re obsessed with food like me though, it was worth it. I won’t spoil all the surprises and excitement, so I’ve whittled it down to our highlights.
One of the amuse bouche was a croquette, filled with rabbit and covered in tiny discs of bergamot. We both lost our shit over that one. What is a bergamot you ask? I don’t know. Who cares? It was lush.
About three courses in, my beloved asked, “Are you going to have that same look of spiritual reverence after every single mouthful?” and I wasn’t to know but the answer was, “Yes, actually.”
“The waiter still said it was against his instinct to give the lady the bill. Well, you want to update your instincts, mate, because as soon I as can next persuade a bank that I’m good for more credit than I really am, I’m going there again.”[/vc_blockquote]
As a rule, I find that when fine dining places have a course that’s ‘all about onion’ and/or ‘garlic’, it may be a technical feat extraordinaire, but I never love it. Whatever wizardry they do to it, it’s still just a mouthful of onion and garlic. Usually. Here, though, the ‘onion, apple and old tom’ course somehow gave me a mouthful of bonfires. Brilliant.
The other course that really knocked us both for eight, shamefully, was the fois gras, pear and thyme. Surely, one single mouthful couldn’t be round, rich, light, original, cheerful and knowingly morally dubious, all at once? It could.
The third ultra-triumph was the extra-to-the-menu shot of rhubarb milk. Phwoar. I love rhubarb and it tasted of fun. It needed to, as by that point we’d eaten so much that even my fingers felt fatter.
We didn’t go for any of the £15 extra courses, but watched another couple’s snow-white red apple, full of raw beef and truffles, arrive on what looked like somehow smoking, actual snow. We were too full to be too jealous.
Despite enjoying the waiter weirdly addressing every question to me, I offered my chap a chance to try the wine first, as it was his birthday; he declined and the waiter said, “We’ve worked out who’s in charge.” Ha ha. Happy birthday darling. Saying that, the waiter still said it was against his instinct to give the lady the bill. Well, you want to update your instincts, mate, because as soon I as can next persuade a bank that I’m good for more credit than I really am, I’m going there again.
In summary: ONE HUNDRED YUMS. Also, I should add, I too now love the Alien films.