"Is this it? Are we here?" we mused as we crossed the street to the mysterious, sign-free building, walking around two door-less sides before coming to a small entrance marked "Story", glad to escape the grip of the icy cold wind.
I had seen a lunch review of this place and after checking out the website, decided it was perfect for Jarv's birthday dinner. Little did I expect I'd be on a waiting list for the next available Friday night, as none were free in the next three months. So, I booked a mid-week dinner instead (which, by the way, was still a month and a half after his birthday. Book well in advance, I warn you!).
You have the option of one of two menus - the 6 course or the 10 course. We went all out, naturally. The evening began with a thoughtful birthday card for Jarv, signed by all the chefs and staff.
We were served a number of amuse bouche courses - crispy cod skins, savoury Oreos with smoked eel mousse filling (so delicious I could have eaten ten) and about three or four more (I won't ruin all the surprises for you!).
The ten course meal begins.
Yes, all those dishes above are just warming you up. At some point, a candle will have been brought over. As you tuck in to the canapes, it slowly melts and drips down into the plate below. Now, if you've read anything about Restaurant Story before, you probably know by now that the candle is, in fact, edible - made of beef dripping. Some gorgeous baked bread is brought out to dip into it. Healthy, this course is most certainly not, but incredibly delicious it is.
Then, course after course, each one delighting the palate and eyes with exciting flavours and gorgeous presentation.
Onion, apple and old tom.
Scallops, cucumber and dill ash.
Forgive me! This meal took place over a month ago and I've forgotten what's inside this pastry - I'll have to ask Jarv and hopefully update this.
Heritage potato, radish and coal. I love potato. Anything potato, give it to me now. So, yes, I could have eaten an entire bowl of this.
Tale of a quail (above and below). This was presented beautifully on a nest, with different parts of the quail cooked various ways.
Fallow deer, yeast and dandelion.
Foie gras, grapes and sorrel. Creamy and slightly sweet, by this point I was completely stuffed - thankfully, we were then onto desserts.
We were offered a palate cleanser of sorbet:
Flower custard. I couldn't get enough of this one - sweet, silky deliciousness through and through.
Almond and dill - a firm customer favourite at the restaurant, this is a tasty dish. An unlikely combination for a dessert, but one that works brilliantly.
Story is young, fresh and innovative, and Tom Sellers does an excellent job of creating concoctions that delight the senses; sight, smell, taste, texture. One or two of the dishes were, I'll admit, good but nothing spectacular, perhaps focused more on aesthetics and skill than flavour. And at times, the experience felt a little over the top, even slightly pretentious (for example, one course was presented with a card talking about foraging and how eating the wild plants made us 'part of the landscape')...but for the most part, the evening was plate after plate of "Oooh!" and "Mmmm". Having been to Fat Duck not long ago, I can safely say that Restaurant Story is like its younger sibling - cool, fun, a little more relaxed (and easier on the wallet), but with food just as fancy and suitable for a special occasion.
Would I go again? Yes, I would. We had a wonderful evening, Jarv enjoyed his birthday dinner immensely, the staff were pleasant and attentive and we left with full and satisfied bellies.