Books are my favourite. Since I was little I have escaped from everyday life into the alternative worlds that lie within their pages. As a young girl it was the land of Sweet Valley & Point Horror that I ventured into, these days it’s dragons, zombies and reincarnating dogs with whom I share my imagination*.
So fierce is my devotion to the book, that when I see somebody using a kindle, I want to hit them with it before throwing it into a river. If they refuse to let go of their device, then there’s a very real chance I will see my GBH charge increased to attempted murder. You can’t judge a kindle by its cover, lend your favourite eBook to a friend, nor will it last long enough to be handed down to your children; yet I fear that the lazy and impatient world that we live in will send books as we know them into extinction. This makes me sad.
When I heard about Restaurant Story, a book themed restaurant opening in London, I got that misty eyed glaze that all daydreamers like me have in their repertoire (some think I’ve gone bogeyed, but I assure you, that’s a wistful gaze.) There’s been a small backlash against the theme, some calling it ‘twee’, a few making accusations of style over substance, others have ‘gagged’ at the suggestion diners bring a favourite book with them. I wanted to see for myself, so off I went, book in hand, singing ‘We’re going to Restaurant Story’ to the theme of Never Ending Story all the way.
Tom Sellers is the 26 year old head chef. A lot has been said of his young age, but Honey Boo Boo is only seven and look how awesome she is.**
The restaurant is gorgeous; greenhouse like, all decked out with book shelves, an open kitchen and subtle nods to the theme.
Amuse bouches were hit and miss. The cod skin and radishes required a bit more emulsion for me, however the rabbit sandwich and eel Oreo were superb.
There are two menus to choose from, 6 and 10 courses. We wanted to try everything and so went for what they affectionately call ‘The Whole Story’.
First up was the famous beef dripping candle. Lit at the table the fat dribbles happily down into the candle holder below which glistens at you as you dunk the sourdough bread into it. This is served with a pungent, eye squinting pickle which finishes the dish off perfectly.
Burnt onion, apple, gin and thyme
A tasting of onions, bitter and sweet. This didn’t particularly work for me. The thyme fought with the burnt onion making the taste a little harsh.
Scallops, cucumber and dill ash
I was initially unsure of this, but once all elements were tasted together, it went from being an out of tune piano to pitch perfect.
Mackerel salad root and strawberry
I adored this. Not a flavour combination I’ve tried before but it worked wonderfully. What a pretty plate of food.
Heritage potato, asparagus and barley grass
Think THE BEST MASH YOU’VE EVER TASTED
Beetroot, raspberry and horseradish
I’ve been known to eat a whole jar of beetroot in one sitting, yet I was slightly frightened of this dish. It was very unusual, but the sweetness of the raspberries really worked with the sharp horseradish snow.
Pigeon, summer truffle and pine
Smelling of a roast dinner and packed full of flavour. One of my dishes of the day.
Bitterly smokingly cold and fragrant, the freshness shoots up your nose like the sweetest nasal decongestant.
Prune tea, lovage and milk
A prune jam topped with milk skin which is used more for texture than flavour. Kind of weird, but in a good way.
Three Bears porridge
One of my all-time favourite desserts. ‘Too salty’ was our favourite, yet the ‘too sweet’ was equally tasty and I loved ‘just right’s floral notes.
We were offered coffee to finish our meal, but we were in no mood to dim our mellow drunken fuzziness and so had a cocktail instead. The Old Fashioned and Vesper were some of the best we’ve sampled.
How did they find this portrait of me from when I travelled back in time to the 17th century?
It’s not difficult to see where Chef Tom Sellers has taken inspiration from. There were elements of Noma, Dabbous and L’enclume throughout our meal, but he’s no copycat; he’s definitely managed to put his own stamp on things.
Service was great. Some of the dishes were brought out by the chefs themselves; it’s probably a good job that Tom didn’t venture to our table as I might very well have started off on one of my famous anti-kindle rants.
Somebody had taken the theme to extremes, a wishing well toilet. Wishes have gone up in price since my day.
Restaurant Story has been labelled the Dabbous of this year as it’s already difficult to snag a reservation. However, bookings are only taken a month in advance, so it shouldn’t get too silly.
I loved Restaurant Story. The hubby was relieved that it wasn’t overly gimmicky, but the waiting staff could have dressed up as The Three Bears and I’d have lapped it up. Perhaps that’s an idea for Tom’s second restaurant: Restaurant Story 2: Dine Hard with Costumes.
*A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron is an amazing book about a reincarnating dog. If you do not love it, you are made of stone.
**Having not ever watched an episode of Honey Boo Boo, I cannot stand by my claim that she is awesome, but I am informed she has a pet pig. This is awesome.
Join me in my quest! Smash up some kindles!
Disclaimer: I will not be held responsible for any arrests as a result of kindle smashing.