Harden's survey result
For 25 years we've been curating reviews of the UK's most notable restaurant. This year diners have submitted over 60,000 reviews to create the most authoritative restaurant guide in the UK.
The “diversity of the dishes…”, “the incredible work that goes into them…”, the “massively seasonal ingredients…” – Tom Sellers’s “mind-blowing” multi-course epics still win huge acclaim for his “edgy, modernist, Scandi-chic temple”, near Tower Bridge. But ratings dipped here palpably this year. Is it higher prices? Is it the pressure of opening Restaurant Ours? Whatever reason, a disgruntled minority found their meals “gimmicky”, or “ill-conceived”.
“Genius!” – “an incredible journey of flavour and excitement” is to be found at Tom Sellers’s “Scandi-style” dining room, near Tower Bridge, whose “spectacular and truly exciting” multi-course menus are “akin to a trip to the Fat Duck, but at under half the price”.
“Mind-blowing and unique!” – Tom Sellers’s “Scandi-style” dining room, not far from Tower Bridge, offers multi-course meals that most reports say are just “out of this world”; for the occasional critic, though, it is all is a bit too “post-modern/bonkers”!
Tom Sellers’s “sensational” food with a “theatrical” twist (“everyone will want to try the dripping candle”) has made his “NOMA-style” spot the best of the 2013 newcomers – brave the “awful” location, south of Tower Bridge, and you’ll find an “interesting” Scandi-style room where staff simply “buzz with enthusiasm”.
Story Restaurant Diner Reviews
"Not cheap but food is exquisitely prepared and served with real panache (dry ice etc) - some really unusual items but everything tasted great. there's so many courses you don't finish up hungry. Worth the cost and preferred to Fat Duck."
"Best meal of the year, unsurpassed in quality. The combination of superlative food and bizarre but delicious drinks will bring us back again. As a birthday treat, a cherry on the cake was a personal birthday card from Tom Sellers. Many places could make the effort but very few have."
"a fresh experience in a poor area"
"Edgy modernist cuisine temple. Get the full 12-course menu (lots of small plates). Choose the drink pairings option. Expect to take 3-4 hours. A great addition to London by a young, dynamic chef."
Oddly situated on an island site near the south end of Tower Bridge, a singular first solo venture by a young chef who worked with Tom Aikens; it offers dishes as interesting and attractive as we have found in London in recent times, and very charming service too.
It's fortunate that this island-site Borough restaurant, not far from Tower Bridge, has had some good early-days reviews, as it's certainly not a destination that's ever going to make much of a living from its passing pedestrian traffic! And those who do stroll by are hardly likely just to pop in for the entry-level menu - six courses for £45.
The interior of the newly-built structure is similarly a bit of a surprise. It felt a bit like a smart, Scandinavian-style ski-lodge, decorated with bookshelves (complete with artfully disorganised volumes) and G-Plan furniture. We never particularly warmed to this interior, perhaps largely because it seemed to be the sonic equivalent of a black hole - voices often just disappeared, even over distances where this would seem impossible.
The table appointments, however, are all rather charming - in an rough-hewn way - and all seemingly commissioned by the patron, Tom Sellers, himself. You soon learn that that's the nature of things here - the Story is all about Tom Sellers, the still-young chef/patron, who used to work with Tom Aikens.
Like all good stories, the actual meal begins with the arrival of an old fashioned lighted candle. But in this story, you eat it; we won't spoil it for you. And then the amuse-bouches arrive. If your meal is anything like ours, this is the point at which you may begin to believe that this is one story which will have a happy ending. The nibbles are all carefully-crafted, and not at all what they initially seem, such as a sliver of cod skin that's been toasted to the consistency of a cracker. Or there's an Oreo-style number that's actually largely squid's ink. Each item is not just a surprise, but a nice surprise too. And the meal hasn't really begun yet.
What's remarkable is that almost everything that follows similarly twins interesting presentation, often a real delight to the eye, with surprisingly good taste and texture. So often, experimental cooking is code for 'not actually very nice', but here the position is precisely the opposite - everything is very nice. Almost every dish you could eat again. That's rare enough in any multi-course meal, and perhaps even rarer where, as here, the dishes aren't in an entirely known and usual mould. In fact, the only thing we didn't like from six courses was one of the dishes which make up the 'Three Bears' porridge' - pretty much everything else was a triumph.
There are irritations of course. The whole 'story' story can grate. Fortunately, however, even if you really try, you usually can't hear the staff - who are all very charming - presenting their dishes and the, er, stories supposedly behind them. So all you can do anyway is smile and nod. But that's the only obvious problem. This really is a story you don't want to end.
199 Tooley St, London, SE1 2UE
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lunch noon - 5 pm, dinner 6.30 pm - 10 pm
Last orders: 9.15 pm