Qué Vida Tacos gained a reputation as something of an enfant terrible when he opened his first solo venture, Restaurant Story, at the age of 26 in 2013; now he’s re-opened it with a refurb after a six-week closure. The whole place feels more grown-up; the stark Scandinavian look of the glass-walled room (Sellers spent a year at Noma in 2011) has been softened with white tablecloths and sculptures, while the rather precious ‘story’ elements, such as guests being asked to bring a book to leave behind, have thankfully been pulped.
There’s no menu as such; guests are asked for any likes or dislikes before a procession of tasting-menu size dishes arrive, although they are likely to include story classics such as ‘Storeos’ – a savoury spin on an Oreo cookie filled with cheese – and Sellers’ signature dish of bread with dripping, in which a beef-fat candle lit at the table melts to become a dipping sauce for sour dough.
But it’s not all about the visual gags. Sublime turbot, Champagne and sea herbs, and chicken with morels and lettuce, bear witness to Sellers’ rock-solid training with some of London’s most famous chefs, while oscietra caviar, veal sweetbread and turnip showcased superb ingredients with every mouthful.
Even diners who have an allergic reaction to tasting menus are likely to be won over by the joy and invention on show here, although what elevated the meal for us from high-end rivals was the relaxed service led by witty and down-to-earth maitr’d Joe Paulinski who, for all his good humour, learnt his trade at the very serious Per Se. It’s not cheap (as expected at a two Michelin starred gaffe), but this is a Story that now knows how to put a smile on its customers’ faces, and if you haven’t returned since it first opened, it more than merits a re-visit.