Story Restaurant, London Bridge

Tom Sellers is a bit of a hero. At the age of just 26 he has worked out the recipe for the perfect restaurant: rediscover a great venue, conjure up an imaginative concept and invent a concise creative menu to wow guests. It is unsurprising considering his experience, which includes a stint in Copenhagen’s (and perhaps the world’s) greatest restaurant, Noma.

Every aspect of Story restaurant is inspired by books and literary references. A jumbled collection of donated books from previous diners covers one wall whilst every table is laid with a book as the centerpiece in which the menu is hidden.

Sellers speaks about his mission and his belief that food and memories are intrinsically linked.

“Many memories are based around food – we’ve all got one… at Story, I want to share my memories with my diners through what they see, smell and taste on the plate, at the same time showcasing the best seasonal, British produce. My hope is that the dishes will inspire them and create memories for them that last long after they have left the restaurant.”

Story has recently received a Michelin star and consequently the prices have inflated, 6 courses for £55 or 10 courses for £75. On a Friday evening we experienced the elaborate six-course menu:

Bread and dripping

Onion and English plum

Heritage potato, turnip and coal

Wild duck, apple and bilberry

Almond and dill

Wild berries, chocolate and buttermilk

Before the main meal commenced, we were treated to (in quick succession) six little tasters, quirky anecdotes to awaken the mind and tastebuds. Wildy creative and beautifully presented, our favourites were the grilled corn-on-the-cob with creamy mustard sauce, and the squid ink oreo biscuit.

Bread and dripping is perhaps the most innovative course of the meal, I feel almost guilty giving away the secret… A real candle made from beef fat melts gradually into a drip tray that you can then eat with the pouch of bread provided. It is delightfully unexpected.

The next course is focused on onions, one of Tom Sellers’ most treasured ingredients. He believes this staple vegetable is often overlooked and at Story he creates an impressively flavoursome dish with this in mind.

Creamed potato with turnip and sticky black coal sauce was a strange but tasty course. The wild duck, for me, was a little disappointing. The smoked method of cooking left an unpleasant smell wafting around the table.

Sneaking an extra course in before dessert, we couldn’t resist nodding in approval at the suggestion of truffle-stuffed cheese and homemade crisp bread. Needless to say, this luxurious soft cheese was an excellent addition to the meal and one of my favourite courses.

The sweets were rather unconventional, almond and dill was an adventurous mix of flavours, the white and green contrasting shockingly on the plate. Then the chocolate came, a dark and mysterious combination of forbidden fruits and chocolate crumble. Before we could let out a relieved sigh, final extra delicacies arrived; homemade teacakes and rum-based mini milkshakes.

Whimsical and wonderful, I found the Story restaurant to be utterly unique and charming. Well worth the price tag to experience a young, brilliant British chef’s vision.

More information and book here:

Hot on the Highstreet Week 165

Andrew Logan is the King, or Queen(!), of alternative beauty, and yet I have only just discovered this fabulously extravagant, creative character.

The Emporium of glitz and glamour appeared while I was wandering aimlessly around the London Bridge area.

Louisa Buck writes extensively about Logan’s life and work, explaining that his art is filled with popular poetry and full of exuberant excess. His work is decadent but cheerful; I was instantly attracted to the sparkling letter brooches made of shards of found materials: mirrors, gems and such like. Soon, spotting my enthusiasm, the shop assistant took me through a back doorway into the world of Logan himself. Here, Andrew worked quietly away on his very ‘loud’ new ideas. Upstairs jars of equipment await creation, while the room is filled with magnificently flamboyant glowing masterpieces. These glorious sculptures celebrate life.

Combining flair, fantasy, and fabulousness, Logan’s creations are like nothing else – a piece from this shop will certainly ensure you stand out from the crowd.

More information here.

The Coffee Hatch, London Bridge

I curse the Coffee Hatch for making me wait for my Monday morning coffee. I was up and about early so thought I would try my chances at London Bridge’s most elusive coffee outlet. Drew at the Hatch has a reputation as one of London’s top coffee connoisseurs, but his opening hours are much less dependable. Needless to say I was excited but pessimistic about my pending visit.

The Coffee Hatch has a small window, both literally and physically from which to retrieve your coffee. Open 8-11am approximately Monday to Friday it is geared around London commuters or the occasional mad coffee lover like me.

My numerical skills came into question when I tried to ascertain the location of number 37, Bermondsey Street, surely somewhere between 45 and 30 and yet nowhere to be found. Turns out the Coffee Hatch is nothing more than an inconspicuous black door when closed, I only had the conviction to stay because I’d looked up the info and pictures online.

At 8.11 am the door slowly opened and the coffee man poked his head out. Perhaps he thought I’d just been hanging around outside for fun because he said surprised, “Oh do you want a coffee?” Umm yes, obviously, can you not see me shivering with pre-coffee desperation?!

The Hatch coffees are made on a La Marzocco machine with Square mile beans and an Anfirm grinder, though Drew sometimes uses a special guest coffee. No food is served. The coffee is carefully filtered and served to the customers specifications. Black or espresso is priced at £2 and ‘white any way’ will cost you £2.50.

I tried my usual Flat White, served short and strong. It was extra creamy with a rich roasted aroma. I can’t stand huge cups of coffee sold extra hot so this cup was ideal for me and I had slurped the final drips within a few minutes.

Hours are erratic at the Coffee Hatch but the coffee never falters. Definitely one of London’s best kept secrets.

37 Bermondsey Street
London SE1
Area: Borough

8-11 am Monday-Friday (ish)