Restaurant Ours review: Behind the hype of Tom Sellers’ hotspot
As a global food capital and home to an army of foodies and hype-loving bloggers, London always responds to the opening of a new high-profile restaurant uncontrollably and very passionately: buzz, press hysteria and celebrity spotting bloom like flowers in spring.
Last night chef Tom Sellers, the wunderkid behind the Michelin-starred Restaurant Story in Bermondsey, opened the highly anticipated Restaurant Ours in West London. Of its former site, The Collection, it retains the iconic 80-feet catwalk entrance designed by Lord Norman Foster and the massive two-storey dining area, which has now become simply one of the most stunning of London.
Ours is essentially the most talked-about new opening since Nuno Mendes’ Chiltern Firehouse in 2014, and comparison between the two comes quite naturally. We went to try its menu to see whether there’s substance behind the hype, the countless red-lacquered Louboutin soles and the social media frenzy.
Size matters: the dining area is so wide that the distance between tables makes every guest feel comfortable, and if it wasn’t for the background music it would feel intimate too. The lights bring a romantic feel and the beautiful bar in the middle of the room instills a celebratory mood.
There are ten snack options in the menu, thirteen starters, four salads, twelve mains, eight sides and seven desserts. The dishes are listed briefly, with no description, but they all spark interest with their enticing titles – and they literally make you want to book another table to try what you couldn’t have tonight.
We tried Oyster Tempura, Salt and Pepper Squid and Our Shrimp and Yuzu Toastie from the snacks. Both the oyster and the squid are fried impeccably – the tempura is airy and the squid has an ultra-light batter – and the delicate spiciness of the mignonette and sriracha sauces (for the oysters and squid, respectively) give them an irresistible touch. The toastie, which comes with the prefix “Our” that defines their signature dishes, is a more sophisticated version of a prawn-and-mayo toast but it would be better suited as a complement to a drink at the bar than as a pre-dinner snack.
The starters – which in the opinion of yours truly is where you see the real creative flair of a chef – need at least three visits to satiate the curiosity. The Red Mullet Escabeche appeals to the eye and to the palate: the fish is cooked to perfection, the skin is golden and crisp, and the flesh moist and tender. On the other hand – or more specifically the other side of the table – the raw Scallop, Grapefruit, Pickles matches the aesthetic factor but has two issues: it’s served in a non-declared chicken and smoked-bacon stock and it looks like it’s only a single scallop sliced in four pieces. However, it tastes extremely fresh and delicious.
Even the mains territory will take a few stops to explore adequately. Tempted by the lamb, I let the waiter convince me that the Wagyu-style Galician Beef Sirloin Sauce Béarnaise was the right choice for me. On paper, the ludicrous-sounding Our Chips, Pecorino, Foie Gras are its obvious counterpart: there isn’t enough foie gras to actually taste but, let’s face it, it’s a brilliant name. The Salmon 50/50, Cucumber, Dill might seem more of a healthy choice but it’s cooked in intriguing: one side is grilled and then it’s finished under the salamander, leaving the other half full of juices. As much as I appreciate raw fish, this dish sets expectations for something a bit more cooked. It’s nevertheless exquisite.
It’s very rare to find a place where the chocolate option in the dessert menu isn’t the most satisfying (unless there’s mint or any excess of fruit ruining it), but Our Lemon, Milk, Verbena, Mint eclipses Chocolate, Smoked Black Tea, Almond (the taste of the tea ice-cream winks at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal’s chocolate ganache) with very balanced, refreshing and intense flavours of lemon, verbena and mint.
Restaurant Ours has everything it needs to establish itself as one of the trendiest but also most enjoyable dining hotspots in London. It boasts a menu that is actually solid, a cool vibe and unexpected features for a big-city, fine-dining environment – some incredible (living trees), others a bit cringe-making (an acoustic trio that plays a song to each table) but nevertheless pleasant. The wine list is too unripe to be worthy of a mention, maybe in a month’s time we’ll see some interesting bottles, also by the glass.
Chef Tom Sellers, who looked tense but very focused at the helm of the kitchen of the opening night, has come up with a very balanced, 360-degree food and drinks offering that will attract a full spectrum of clientele. Despite what someone might think, there’s a cool but accessible atmosphere, free from any snobbish aura. It’s just fundamental though that, despite the newspaper and celebrity buzz, this message gets delivered.
Filippo L’Astorina, the Editor
Photos: Filippo L’Astorina
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To book a table at Restaurant Ours, 264 Brompton Rd London SW3 2AS, call 020 7100 2200 or visit here.