The Story of Affligem By Gordon Radley
A warm summer evening in London’s hip Tower Bridge area, an exotic menu at an up-and-coming Michelin star restaurant, and an upmarket beer with an ancient history….
The Luxury Channel asked me to report back after my to visit to Restaurant Story. The eating house in London’s Tooley Street is minimalistic, functional and chic, and the Affligem beer we were drinking was elegant – even its bottle and logo are stylish.
Story say they like to tell their story through food. Open for just over a year, they already have their first Michelin star. I was fascinated to see how a restaurant which prides itself on its wines suddenly became beer-centric. The menu was inspired by Chef Tom Sellers’ culinary career. It was amazing that after years of carefully removing skin from slabs of fish, I enjoyed an appetiser based on cod skin. Bread and dripping – exiled from the British menu for years – is back and seemingly pretty healthy. I love good food and I reckon I can rustle up a good mashed potato – with the help of a mouli and some grated horseradish. But Story’s Heritage potato, asparagus and coal beats it – by far the best mashed potato I have ever tasted. Yes, there really was coal dust on the plate!
But the evening was about beer and Story created a very smooth beer sorbet – Affligem, of course. The Benedictine monks of Affligem Abbey started to brew the beer in 1074, in the abbey bordering the provinces of Flemish Brabant and East Flanders in Belgium. Brewing giant Heineken is bringing the beer to Britain under licence. There are three brews of unparalleled quality.
The Blonde version (ABV 6.8%) is an eminently drinkable classic clear ale, whilst Double (ABV 6.8%) is a more complex, richer affair, steeped in dark malt overtones. Triple (ABV 9%) is apparently the pride of the abbey, with a distinctive bitterness and gratifying strength for those who seek something beyond their traditional beer portfolio. All three embody luxurious quality for any aficionado.
Like all of the best things in life, proper preparation is integral. I watched a demonstration of The ‘Body & Soul’ Pour. Which is really pouring the majority of any of the beers into a big glass, and the remaining 10% of the bottle is then served in a separate tasting glass. The small glass then has beer in it with a quantity of yeast. Needless to say, I didn’t manage to pour the beer as directed by the expert but it tasted very nice anyway.
Beer for gourmands and food from Story – coal dust and fish skin. A pretty memorable evening.