Restaurant Story

Bermondsey, London

Rating: Exceptional

Modern British | Restaurant

Overall Rating: Exceptional

Uniqueness: Very Good

Deliciousness: Exceptional

Warmth: Exceptional

Strength of recommendation: Exceptional

*Following an extended and extensive refurb, the restaurant now boasts a second floor complete with a bar, terrace and a second dining room. Watch for a new review coming soon.*

The extraordinary glass-and-wood building perched at a junction where buses wait to turn towards Tower Bridge offers an urban-grit view down Tooley Street towards the Shard. But Tom Sellers’ theatre of operations is a world away when it comes to style and attitude. Looks-wise, the small, low-key, light-filled dining room mixes tablecloths with a polished concrete floor, the kitchen very much on display, and there is no bar. Success is down to a combination of the relaxed expertise of the front-of-house staff and the attention to detail from a chef who regularly displays flashes of culinary genius. The sheer breadth of the 10-course tasting menu can be gauged immediately from the terrific opening salvo, a fast-paced succession of nibbles ranging from old favourites – the hot confit rabbit sandwich, the squid ink ‘storeo’ biscuit, the single langoustine with its sensuous mayo dip, crisp cod skin dotted with intense, smoky roe – to a delicate celeriac tartlet filled with crabmeat, and a wagyu beef-and-pickle riff on a NYC-style bagel. The pace slows as a visually stunning plate of Isle of Wight tomatoes arrives, prepared every which way, with a dash of crystal-clear tomato consommé and petals of onion and a dollop of N25 caviar underscoring the sweetness. There’s a fondness for supple, silky textures, too: whether tiny cubes of delicate frog’s leg gnocchi placed in a frothy sauce heady with more leg meat, vermouth, red wine, garlic and chervil, or a sensuous lobster and corn ragoût that’s almost like a set cream. These are knockout dishes, and that extends to a take on a modern classic: a perfect BBQ lamb chop made memorable with a swipe of aubergine mayo, pesto and red pepper purée. In a final flourish, ‘oil of life’ (a take on potato sponge cake with potato ice cream, chocolate and olive oil) displays Sellers’ skill at packing intriguing ingredients into one composition and coaxing all into harmony. Fans will be pleased to know that the menu remains loyal to the famous beef-dripping candle (served with a soft Parker House roll and two utterly moreish pots of beef extract and celery relish). Nothing jars here, staff know how to engage and respond warmly while retaining their formal poise, and the evident brilliance shown in the food is reflected in a wine list with scores of desirable bottles; the sommelier always has a glass or a bottle up his sleeve to match any trick the kitchen might pull. 

Rating: Exceptional

Modern British | Restaurant

Overall Rating: Exceptional

Uniqueness: Very Good

Deliciousness: Exceptional

Warmth: Exceptional

Strength of recommendation: Exceptional

Dining Information:

Wheelchair access, Credit card required

199 Tooley Street, Bermondsey SE1 2JX

020 7183 2117