Dec 16 2014

St John


St John is a very special restaurant. I never thought I particularly liked British food, but I absolutely loved St John and also their sister restaurant St John Bread and Wine, so these restaurants have totally changed my perception about British food. I am not alone in rating this restaurant highly, and it has been part of the 100 best restaurants in the world list for many years and has 1 Michelin star.


This restaurant does “head to tail” cooking, which means it uses all parts of the animal. Whilst it may sound not particularly appetizing (and it didn’t to me), once you see the dishes, you are amazed what you can do with parts of the animal you never thought were edible. The restaurant is 20 years old and was set up in Clarkenwell by  Fergus Henderson and Trevor Gulliver and now is a lunch and dinner restaurant, situated in a former smokehouse.


I have been to St John before, but have not reviewed it, so I came again in November for lunch with some friends. I have been in the UK for 14 years and so I think my English is pretty good, but when I read the menu at St John there were many words I did not know, as they serve traditional and old school British food, that I have not seen anywhere else. When you walk into the restaurant, at first there is a casual café bar, where you can come for a coffee and some food, and the restaurant is accessed through a small old staircase. In the restaurant there is an open kitchen on one side, where you can see chefs preparing unusual food.


The menu changes frequently and during this visit, I ordered the Purple sprouting broccoli vinaigrette starter, which seems to be the only dish that I did not take a picture of. It was a delicious dish, the vinaigrette had a powerful, unusual flavor, it was a much more memorable and tasty dish than your average salad. Other starters ordered were the “Brown Crab Meat on Toast”, a dried meat dish with celeriac remoulade and another salad with artichokes and watercress. The dishes were not particularly nicely presented, they were presented in that “home cooking” sort of way, but the actual quality of the dishes was much better than you could make at home. The food was not fancy, but it was unusual, British and delicious. The food is also not particularly expensive for London Michelin star standards, and starters were £8 on average and main courses £15.


I ordered a main course with grilled mackerel, beetroot and horseradish. The dish was great, mackerel was nicely grilled, maintaining that intense mackerel flavor, and it went together well with the other strong flavours, beetroot and horseradish. Amanda ordered grouse, as this was the right season for it, and the bird got a lot of comments due to its unusual presentation, but apparently was very good. Paul and Ian ordered mutton with white beans, and they were maybe a bit disappointed. The mutton was served medium/raw, and they thought the meat was not particularly delicious. It also seemed like quite a plain dish. Julian ordered this strange meatball (lamb faggot) that was made out of unusual parts of the animal (a faggot is usually made out of meat off-cuts and offal) served with lentils. Despite these unusual ingredients Julian really enjoyed his dish. We also ordered some side dishes, new potatoes and greens and something called Welsh Rarebit, which I did not know what it was before trying it. I found it strange to have Welsh Rarebit as a side, but I am sure this is an acquired taste, and maybe one day I will get there. The potatoes and greens were nothing special, but very pleasant to have with the food.


As I was reading the dessert menu, 2 desserts caught the attention of my lunch buddies, Quince jelly and Treacle sponge, and I did not know what either quince or treacle were, but I am pleased to say that after trying both dishes I can say I like them. Quince is a fruit and the jelly made out of it was beautiful pink and amazingly delicious. The waiter said it was one of their best deserts, and I can see why. It was served with ice cream and some quince. I had the treacle sponge, and treacle is any uncrystallised syrup made during the refining of sugar. The sponge was served with some cream. It was such a sweet pudding, but extremely enjoyable  and I feel I have been missing out in life by not knowing this dessert before.


The people that say they don’t think British food is any good, should be brought to St John. They are bound to change their mind after a meal there.


Date: 20/ 11/ 14

Price: I can’t remember

Location: Clarkenwell

St John on Urbanspoon

Maija rated: 




St John
26 Saint John Street EC1M 4AY
United Kingdom
St John Reviewed by Hungry Bee Maija on . Rating: 4.5