Tom Sellers has a lot to answer for. His eponymous London Bridge restaurant, Restaurant Story, opened in to rave reviews in 2013. Sellers rendered explicit the idea that each dish should tell a story and, as well as ingredients food should now be assigned a narrative.
So, rather than a plate of deliciously smouldering bread with salty French butter, diners are presented with stale sourdough and a candlestick made from beef dripping plucked straight out of a Brothers Grim fairy tale.
Beyond the novelty of an edible candlestick, my memories of Restaurant Story were not of the excellent food, but rather the poor bugger serving it who looked tediously at the floor trying to recount the nuances of the dish’s inception. It was around the fifth – of about 13 – courses that our interest waned and Mrs A and I turned from dutiful students soaking up every word, to the class half-wits praying for the school bell.
To my distain, The Blue Butcher (now simply known as Blue) has transformed itself from a cold cavernous restaurant that serves a bloody good steak, to a cold cavernous restaurant with a hunter-gatherer narrative, artisan philosophy and beef dripping candles.
When ascending the stairs to the restaurant you pass the restaurant’s meat store. As someone for whom the sight and smell of dry-aged beef awakens a primal eroticism, the room left my loins disappointing lifeless. The space looked more akin to a cheap museum waxwork study of a 19th century woodshed than a promise of a meat-based orgy (head over Mr & Mrs Fox for an sensual feast for your eyes).
The first thing you notice about the menu is not the mouth-watering options, but the eye watering prices. Steak, although starting from $500 increased exponentially to $2,000 for the good stuff.
We mistakenly ordered what we thought was a decent bottle of Malbec. On closer inspection we realised The Argento was the mass-produced, bottom shelf plonk you’d typically hide at the back of the party booze table (with the addition of a ten-fold mark-up).
We started with Octopus, which was tender and finished with a slight smoke, completed perfectly well with chargrilled leek and ink mash. That was the high point.
For main she had fillet. I had Sirloin. We were both disappointed. The meat, although very well cooked, lacked any of the evocative aroma or juicy, caramelised flavour you’d hope for. The side of fries had a well-balanced tang of truffle and garlic but the green salad packed an unpleasant punch of raw onion and vinegar.
The desert menu was more inviting. We argued over banana mouse, lime and basil sorbet and deconstructed red velvet cake. In the end we opted for Charred Sweetcorn Ice Cream, Valrhona Chocolate Cake. Neither of us could detect any sweetcorn and the popcorn and cake could have come straight from a M&S party picnic pot.
The staff were friendly, decor was interesting enough and it was buzzier than I’ve ever seen it, but none of that could make up for the exorbitantly priced, lacklustre food.
My advice when it comes to Blue is this; venture to your nearest quality butcher (of which there are now many), buy the best steak they have, then take a walk to the decent wine shop (of which there are even more), buy the best bottle of Bordeaux they have. Prepare these at home and enjoy vastly superior quality for a snip of the price
- How much? $2,360 for two people including wine
- Where? 108 Hollywood Rd, Sheung Wan
- Who goes? American tourists who have had enough of Chinese fare