St. John was recommended to me by my brother. It did not disappoint. I would come for bone marrow plate alone.
Wine from the French vineyard of one of St. John's owners was recommended, not too expensive, and delicious.
I wimped out on the main course and went for the veterinarian option, and it was great. My husbands oxtail was a large serving, and perfectly cooked.
For dessert, the Eton mess was fantastic!
So. This is awkward...
This place is a legend, especially amongst meat lovers. I had lustily reviewed their menu and Yelp reviews for days before our work do. And then we arrived and waited with bated breaths for the gastronomic delights to follow. I liked the simple but clean decor - busy but spacious settings, urban chic but stolidly British in its insistence on simple white table clothes and table silver - no unnecessary accoutrements, candles and the likes. Very well then.
Their own-brand wine was lovely and the bread was delightful, and we gushed and exchanged bottles across our huge group split between two long tables...we munched on the bread and wondered where our food was...considering we had pre-ordered days in advance with specific dietary requirements et al.
It finally arrived, and we were delighted with the unusual starter dish of bone marrow - it was a bit of an adventure picking on the soft bits with our long pokers, how very unusual we marvelled. And then the mains arrived - giant tubs of shepherds pie with, well, more bone marrow. Exotic, the first time around, but a bit 'more of the same' by now. Other mains included other giant shareable portions of veggies, gammon and other dishes...sadly, the shareable, communal dining format really detracted from the presentation aspect of the meal, which is really such an essential part of enjoying fine dining, especially in Western cuisines. All in all, for what had been anticipated to be a very memorable meal, it ended up being rather 'meh'. Pudding was nice, I think, but I think I was already a bit put out by then so I can't remember much of it.
I really really wanted to like this place. The experience, unfortunately, collapsed under the weight of my expectations...maybe a la carte would be a better experience than a pre-ordered, big group event? Who knows...but I am not dying to get back to this place any time soon to correct my potential misconception.
Wheat and White Sourdough with Local Butter
Brown Crab Meat on Toast
Foie Gras with Grilled Bread
Bloodcake and Fried Egg
Half Dozen Madelines
Bread Pudding and Butterscotch with Salted Caramel Ice Cream
Brown Bread Ice Cream
Originally booked to serve in casual contrast to a 3* Michelin lunch, but instead serving as a continuation of my British culinary education after a disastrous visit to Waterside Inn gave way to a two-part tasting at The Hinds Head and The Crown at Bray, it was to the table of Fergus Henderson and Trevor Gulliver's St. John that I turned and although the high energy Smithfield scene would prove a staunch departure from the sleepy town of Bray nearly every single bite of food would prove just as well-crafted while service similarly shined. Considered by many to be London's most steadfast proponent of Nose to Tail cooking with a menu often redrafted twice daily to reflect the market's very best it was just after 9 o'clock that I entered the spacious former smokehouse and with ceilings high and my seat against the wall a large order ensued, my first bites arriving in the form of duo of stone-milled breads that I paid close mind to so as not to overindulge. Perhaps the first restaurant of the trip where I wished I'd recruited a dining companion as no less than a dozen of the night's sharable plates caught my eye it was nonetheless in three courses that I proceeded and with the luxurious sweetness of buttered-up crab somehow managing to steal the spotlight from silky liver I immediately I knew right away I was in for a good night, a trend only to be continue in the restaurant's celebrated Rarebit and aromatic black boudin crowned with a pair of runny eggs. Unable to resist wiping up all remaining yolk with yet another slice of lightly buttered bread it was finally to dessert that I turned and having already experienced the exemplary Eckles cake at the bakery on Druid I instead invested in elsewhere, a steamy slice of molasses bread pudding swimming in butterscotch proving thoroughly sweet while brown bread ice cream presented its savory side with far more subtlety alongside six sizable Madelines that would have rendered Proust weak in the knees.
-I've enjoyed meals at St. John in the past characterized by good, simple food and competent service though sometimes at aggressive price points.
-The most recent experience, a suckling pig feast for 16, was pretty disappointing though. The combination of only adequate food and lousy service was completely at odds with the £70-80 cost per person.
-The food (whole crab and lamb tongues to start, suckling pig for main and then cheese and plum pie) was fine although presentation was even more perfunctory than usual (e.g. crabs were barely prepared, no knives/spoons were provided to serve the plum pie).
-The service, however, was slow, sloppy and inattentive. Vegetarian dishes were forgotten about, no effort was made to keep the table topped up with wine and water and the staff generally seemed very disengaged.
-Most frustrating we were initially told that the leftover suckling pig (several kilos worth!) would be packaged up for us to take away. A waiter later claimed that a plate had been 'smashed over it' and the kitchen couldn't release it. How this could have happened when the pork was served on two plates is unclear.
-This waste of a lot of good food (for which we had paid the best part of £400) is unconscionable, especially for a restaurant that prides itself on nose to tail eating. My follow up email to St. John went unanswered.
-St. John is resting on its laurels and I don't plan on returning.
Went for lunch. Has a cooling setting and is tucked away between two buildings. The food was delicious (and the bread, of course)- everything was very fresh. Had the salt kid, bone marrow, squid, artichoke (yum!).
This was one of the best restaurants I ate at in London. Went with a group of friends on a monday afternoon to St. John. We made a reservation. When we first arrived we were the only group there however within 10mins or so the whole room quickly filled up. This place is simple. Not fussy in decor, you almost feel like your at a hospital.
Service is interesting, not over the top in your face but not mean. They wait until you flag them over but get you everything you ask for. The standout dish for me was the Bone Marrow. I could of order an extra plate, it's extremely rich in flavor and we also ordered "stinking bishop" which was a pot of melted cheese. AMAZING. I hope to return here someday!
Can't fault the institution. Been a couple of times but felt to write a review after a friend kindly took me for lunch last week.
I sat in the courtyard area, which is beautiful on a sunny day, to enjoy a glass of wine and felt instantly relaxed. No pressure from the staff to move into the dining room, even though we'd passed our booking time. I expect this would be different at dinner.
Classic decor, excellent service and the Great British menu. Bone marrow toast, welsh rarebit, saddle of rabbit. spring asparagus and a bottle and a half of white - £90 including tip. Not cheap but not ridiculous.
Love this place.
Ate in the bar area. You have to order at the bar and let them know where you're sitting and they will bring the food out to you.
The welsh rarebit was just toast with a beer cheese spread. Not particularly good. The bone marrow was good, but more oily than anything else. The smoked herring was average. The cod roe toast was disappointing. The veal breast was tender and probably the best dish I had.
nope, nope, nope.
Disappointing in several ways. First of all, for a place with a pig as its mascot and "snout to tail" as its motto, there was no pig on the menu. No snout. No tail. Nothing at all.
Second, the dishes our party ordered were all mediocre at best. Ox liver was two thin slices of liver, served dry over some plain beets. Not tasty. Hospital food. Sweetbreads were so very ordinary. And on and on. Dishes were served neither with interesting sauces or spices, nor were they served with an emphasis on fresh, delicious, and plain cuts cooked simply to emphasize their simple deliciousness. Preparation of our 3 apps and 3 mains reminded me of the kind of mindfulness that goes into college dining-hall food and airplane food. The desserts we saw on our neighbors' plates looked pretty boring, so we didn't bother.
Third, the service was terrible. We waited so very long between our dishes, and at no point during the meal did a waiter ask us how it was going. Our waitress disappeared for a long time, and we could see her eating something in the kitchen. We finished our drinks, and no server was around for at least 30 minutes, to ask us if we wanted another. Don't they want to make money? (Oddly, when the waitress was clearing our dishes at the end of the meal she asked if I would like another glass of wine. Yes I did! 45 minutes ago when you were absent!)
What a failure. We watched a beautiful roast suckling pig being carried past us and into another room. Maybe the VIP's in that room were receiving the food and the service I had been expecting? The black pudding and breakfast sausage I had with my breakfast fry-up at my local pub was better than anything I had at St John tonight! And HP sauce would have improved most of this bland and unimaginative food.
Honestly, the food in general was good but not amazing. This place gets 4 stars because of the Madeleines... I dream of those Madeleines.
WOW! Thanks again for never failing me, Yelpers! This place was sooo worth it and more.
Modern British fare with a warehouse attitude and good service. The bone marrow was everything and more; delectable and oddly delicate, there was enough in that appetizer my husband ordered for both of us. I had the pig's head terrine which was good but not as good as the marrow. And it only got better from there.
You must be a meat-eater to appreciate this tail-to-hoof restaurant or why bother coming? Yes, they have greens but that's not their speciality. And be adventurous for god sake's or just go down to the local pub and have a meat pie. This is a foodie joint, true to the word. Even the waitress got excited explaining the entrees (it's cuz she saw me do my Happy Food Dance).
Anyway, absolutely worth all the accolades. We would have come again but it does put a dent in your wallet and London is already one of the most expensive cities in the world so the one time was bliss.
St john is a great little nose to tail restaurant in london that had been recommended to me by many people. We were able to get a walk in seating late on a Tuesday evening and it did not disappoint.
We started in the bar with a couple of hand pulled pints which are a bit of an acquired taste for the average American, but matched the surroundings well.
For starters we split the black cuttlefish and the bone marrow to start. The bone marrow was unctuous and perfectly pared with charred toast, a little wet salt and parsley salad. The cuttlefish was amazing smothered in a black ink sauce that looked terrible but had this rich mole like texture and layered flavor nicely offset with some pickled onion slices
Moving on to the mains, I ate the braised mutton and my colleague had the offal meatballs both were fantastic, but I found the goat could have been seasoned a little more.
There was no room for desert but we'll definitely have to return with a party big enough to split the suckling pig meal (1 week pre-order)
I can confidently say, this is one of my favourite restaurants in London. I discovered St. John one summer as I was looking for nose-to-tail eating and Fergus Henderson is the ultimate source on this.
Simple, no fuss and high quality, the dishes highlight the ingredients. If you are a fan of meat, this is a great place for you. Their standout dish is the Bone Marrow. Other favourites over the year include grouse and devilled kidneys. If you are adventurous and can get a group of friends together, try the suckling pig, but presented whole, it's not for the faint of heart.
The service is delightful, minimal and friendly. The house wine is another talking point. If you want to take home the experience with you, but both volumes of the Nose to Tail cookbook. The recipe for sourdough starter is exceptional!
Great nose to tail find in London. Went in Sept 2013 and had a wonderful time. We ordered:
Ox Liver, Celeriac & Pickled Walnut
Roast Bone Marrow & Parsley Salad
Guinea Fowl & Lentils
Braised Venison, Red Wine & Swede
Everything was fresh, delish, had fantastic flavor and unique.
Will definitely be back next time I'm in London.
St. John was truly an "experience." Looking at it from the outside, you would never expect to find the great food that is on the inside. When you walk in, it has a white simplistic warehouse feel, which works perfectly with everything going on there. Don't be out off by the lack of decor and music. It doesn't need it at all!
I was a little intimidated to eat here because I don't eat meat, and I knew that was their specialty. I only went because my husband had his heart set on it. And I admit, I ate a little before going here just because I didn't think there would be anything for me. I was wrong...there was plenty for me to eat!
I had the cauliflower soup which was out of this world, the Welsh rarebit, and a greens salad. There was also a lentil dish on the menu, but I have a minor allergy to lentils, but it looked great! We also had the apple and blackberry crumble which was beyond words. Don't be afraid to pour the cream on it! Sooooo good!
The menu changes weekly, maybe even daily, so don't pass this gem up. The service we had was wonderful as well. Everyone was so sweet to us!
The restaurant itself was a bit warm inside. I suggest dressing in layers, just in case you get warm.
Bravo St. John! Keep up the great work!!!
After much anticipation, I was excited (even a little scared) about our dinner for St. John. Having seen pictures about the various animal parts, strange dishes, and other weird but delicious food, I was going into this with a very open mind. I will caveat things right by saying that a) I'm an American, who doesn't venture too far beyond meat and potatoes for a main and b) as a result of the former, I tend to think that I have a rather "limited" palate when it comes to various types of game.
Ok, so anyway, now that I've put that out there, here's what went down during our meal. The scene wasn't what i was expecting, it was on the louder side, but very casual, and very open-aired. Service right from the onset was mediocre. In aggregate, our waitress probably visited our table about 4 times the whole time we were there, some of which was a function of us trying to flag her down. Anyway, we had scoped out the menu beforehand so we knew almost right away what we were going to be ordering.
For the appetizers, we ordered the following:
Brown shrimp and cabbage salad: When they say "shrimp", they mean itty bitty bay shrimp, not the shrimp you get in shrimp cocktail (those are prawns). The salad was fresh and light, but not anything to write how about.
Bone marrow salad: WELL OF COURSE WE WERE GOING TO GET THIS. The components of this dish were outstanding together. The bones were served hot with a few pieces of toast, some parsley salad and onion, with some sea salt on the side. The bone marrow comes out spreadable on the toast, and when you make yourself a small sandwich, this is absolutely delicious. The only qualm I have about this dish is that it's definitely on the messy side. You will DEFINITELY need your napkin.
Greg had a venison dish served with a side of mash, and I ordered the grousse.
Here's where my naive mind thought of prior to ordering: Grousse, being a bird, must be similar to chicken.
Reality check: Grousse and chicken may both be birds, but that's about as far as it goes in terms of similarity. There was a fair amount of clove spices on the bird, and I absolutely butchered it throughout the process trying to find bits and pieces that were edible. Grousse meat is most definitely game-y in my opinion. It's dark, with a lot of "nature" tastes to it. Although I thought I did a good job getting through most of it, I'd be lying if I said that I completely enjoyed it. Again, maybe this is because I'm just not used to eating overly gamey meats, but I just couldn't turn the corner and start enjoying it. Greg, on the other hand, seriously enjoyed his venison dish. We had gone to Harwood Arms for dinner earlier on, and Greg thought his dish a St John outdid his dish at Harwood.
Buttermilk pudding: Holy cow this was delicious. Not really 5 star delicious, but it was definitely good! I would certainly order this again
Blackberry swirl ice cream: what surprised me the most about this was how much ice cream they gave you! That was seriously impressive!
Anyway, after all of this, I just couldn't get around the idea that I didn't really enjoy my main. I don't want to be overly critical of the place since some of this may certainly be a function of my palate, but it seems to me that places where I've given 4+ stars out is because i was blown away with whatever main I had. I guess I don't quite get that here. Overall, I thought this was a 5 star experience, but only a 3 star assessment for the food.
We ate here this past summer while vacationing in London.
Fantastic dinning experience. It was very casual atmosphere in a loft like industrial space.
Food was delicious and well deserved the Michelin stars.
How daring are you? Will you eat any part of the animal? If so, you will be rewarded here. St. John isn't your normal Michelin star restaurant. You won't break the bank here, which is nice. Their famous Roast Bone Marrow & Parsley salad will only set you back £7.20 Are you kidding me? You'd be crazy not to try things you normally wouldn't at a restaurant this respected. If you don't like it, you can always order something else at these prices. But the thing is, you are going to like it. You may not want to admit it but, all those bits that we Americans throw out....taste pretty yummy. Especially in the hands of master chefs in one of the top restaurants in the world.
So it all starts with this Roast Bone Marrow Parsley Salad. It is perfection. You take a piece of toast, dig out the pipping hot bone marrow and spread it on the toast. It becomes almost like a melted butter with a rich beefy flavor. Next you sprinkle a little corse sea salt and then top with fresh parsley that has a little olive oil on it. You have all different textures and flavors working together in harmony. I split this with my brother and I would say that's the way to go because it's so rich. Plus now you can also order the Terrine and split that too.
The terrine was out of this world. Like eating a cool meatloaf of sausage but only made with the tastiest ingredients. St. John's terrine is pork, duck, rabbit offal, with a little foie gras thrown in to hold it all together. It was served with very crunchy little gherkin pickles. My brother felt that they over powered the terrine. I enjoyed some bites with the pickle and some without. I like the crunchy texture of the pickles with the terrine and the flavor together was something completely different than just the terrine. It was great to go back and forth, because the terrine by itself was just fabulous.
I also enjoyed watching my wife struggle shelling her crayfish. I'm not sure what she was expecting, but they were large and came out looking at you. You aren't going to win a staring competition with these guys.
After reading reviews here about the main courses, it seems those that play it safe aren't super impressed with St. John. Those who take some chances and trust the chef, are. I really wanted to order the blood cake topped with eggs that Anthony Bourdain has bragged about over and over, but unfortunately they only have it on the menu every 2 or 3 weeks, and we hit a night where it wasn't available. So I went with the grilled ox heart. This was sliced very thin, well marinated, and grilled to get some char lines on each slice. It had a bold flavor to it and kind of reminded me of a lean carne asada steak. Pretty darn tasty and served with chips.
My brother's dish however completely stole the show. Lamb Sweetbreads. Don't ask questions, just eat it. It's one of the best things I've ever tried. These soaked up whatever they were sautéed in so well. The sauce was amazing. This dish also had large pieces of bacon, more like pork belly as it wasn't crispy. Again it soaked up and added to the flavor of the dish. Each forkful of the sweetbread, bacon, and turnip together, was perfection. How I wanted to steal his dish.
My wife played it safe, got the lamb cutlets and I don't think she was that impressed. The lamb, while perfectly prepared was on the bland side. She isn't a bean eater and she didn't eat the lamb together with the beans. I tried the lamb and the beans together and thought it was very good. Sometimes with British food, you need to make what my mother called sandwiches on the fork. Just grab a bit of this and that and mash it all together on the fork. Once you did that with this dish, it was quite good, but not in the same league as the Lamb Sweetbreads.
We split a very powerful Welsh rarebit as a side. This is a few different cheeses melted on toast along with some English mustard and Worcestershire sauce. I highly recommend getting a slice to share as it's one of the best I've had.
For desert, I stayed traditionally English with Strawberry, Cream, and Biscuit. The Strawberry jelly was packed with flavor and was on the runny side once the outer layer was broken. The clotted creme wasn't too sweet, but didn't need to be since it's purpose was to enhance the strong sweet strawberry jelly with richness. The biscuit added a little need crunch, and there you have it.
Master Chef and owner Fergus Henderson, was dining here this night with his family. I wanted to walk over and shake his hand and thank him for such a wonderful experience, but didn't want to bother the man. So here's a yelp thank you to him and his restaurant, for opening my eyes and palate to the other tasty bits that we don't get to eat very often.
Loved this place. No music playing, decor very simple. Rule about no cell phones posted regularly. Focus is on the food and the people you are with.
The service was great. Attentive but not suffocating.
Now the food. It was almost enough to just smell the food. But eating it, wow! I had the sautéed duck hearts with radish and rocket to start. My entree I chose the pot roast smoked Gloucester old spot, marrow & parsley sauce.
I will be back.
When the menu contains a warning that some fowl and game may contain lead shot, you know you've hit the jackpot! Fergus is apparently some sort of British messiah for nose to tail eating and if you're into that sort of thing, you won't be disappointed. Having grown up in a Cantonese family where it was normal to suck the meat out of fish heads, to fight for the last braised chicken foot, or to rate a restaurant's tripe offerings, this was heaven for me.
The wife and I started with the bone marrow. Marrow has been a fad for some time now, and while we were a bit torn about ordering it (having had plenty of marrow over the last two years), we were very impressed. While the marrow was roasted well, it was the parsley salad that accompanied it that put it over the top. So fresh and fragrant, with a hint of vinegar as well. It was the perfect accompaniment to the rich and unctuous bone marrow.
The wife had the lamb sweetbreads and I had the grilled ox heart. Both were outstanding. The sweetbreads were so complex- earthy, coppery, and buttery. The simple and straightforward peas and mashed potatoes that accompanied it balanced that complexity very well. The ox heart was robust, beefy, and very tender.
The frites and accompanied it were also some of the best we've had during our trip (which included more than a few places in Paris).
The finale was the date pudding suggested by the waitress. We weren't accustomed to English-style puddings and we thought it might be too rich. We were so wrong. Every bite was sweet, but not overly so. The cream mellowed the richness perfectly. Awesome!
St. John's was such a delight for us. We will be coming back the next time we're in London.
"If I had to die with half a bite of anything hanging out of my mouth, it would probably be the roast bone marrow in Fergus Henderson's plain-white dining room at St. John. Scooped out and slathered onto a crust of toasted bread and sprinkled with sea salt, it's simple yet luxurious." - Anthony Bourdain in his article written for Men's Health Magazine "13 Places to Eat Before You Die" published September 27, 2011.
I wish I could submit this without a rating because I feel like I'm not doing this place justice to serious diners by giving it a 3-star rating. I feel like the Soviet judge when somebody from a 'happy country' would perform perfectly on the balance beam only to see Olga Krykxizcsighsikciaicvszyxyxza from Moscow throw out a 6.5.
Quick caveat: I'm American and visited St John on Anthony Bourdain's recommendation.
Prior to arrival, I glimpsed an example of a standard St. John menu online and could have sworn I saw chicken and/or beef on there. When we arrived at the restaurant, alas, it looked more like a menu from Fear Factor.
I don't find eating small game very appealing. I have no interest in eating ducks, bunnies, or any other cute little animals. I prefer eating chunks from big animals nobody likes (cows).
With that said, my menu options were limited but, by damned, I wasn't leaving there without sampling this Roast Bone Marrow that Mr. Bourdain said was the greatest thing he'd ever eaten.
My date was shocked I wouldn't eat a duck but I would eat bone marrow. Honestly, I didn't envision it looking the way it did. I wasn't sure what to expect but, as best as I can describe, it looked like liquidy, yet clumpy, um . . . sperm. Now I was second-guessing my dining choice.
I decided to bite the bullet and eat the spe . . . uh, bone marrow. I dug it out of the bone, spread it on the toast, sprinkled some salt on it and . . . it wasn't bad. There are a thousand-and-one things, Mr. Bourdain, I would rather eat than this, but it wasn't bad. I proceeded to polish off an entire piece of toast and dug bone marrow out of a couple of the hacked-off legs before me and, forgoing all of the entrée options, I was ready for dessert.
The dessert: we decided to split a couple of desserts. We ordered a chocolate cake that didn't taste much better than something we could've microwaved back in the states and a pastry called Madeleines that, well . . . not much going for those either. No filling, frosting, fruit . . . just . . . I don't know . . . like a tart without filling?
If you were to ask me for my honest appraisal of St. John, I would give it 1-star. I would have no desire to return because 'snout to tail' eating just sounds repulsive to me. However, if they threw some steak (or even chicken) on the menu, I MIGHT consider returning.
What can I say about St. John that has not already been said by the very wise, Anthony Bourdain? It truly is that great!
It is so refreshing to see fresh ingredients, carefully prepared and served in an unpretentious setting. The food is simply delicious.
Dear Mr. Fergus Henderson, you were so ahead of the curve with the founding of St. John. Thank you for creating my favorite restaurant!
I've been intrigued by Fergus Henderson ever since I came across his book "Nose To Tail Eating: A Kind of English Cooking" while contemplating how to deal with the fact that I'd just bought a whole hog, including the "not so popular" bits such as the head, feet and tail. I was so pleased that there was a book out there that told me exactly what to do with, for example, pigs ears (using his recipe, they were quite tasty, if a bit chewy...but no matter how you slice it, a pig's ear is a pig's ear).
So on a recent trip to London this spring, St John was the only restaurant reservation I made and the only place I really felt I *had* to go. Yup, I had the celebrated Bone Marrow and it was fabulous. Perfectly roasted, paired perfectly with crisp toast and the tangy parsley salad that complements the richness of the marrow.
I kick myself now that I didn't write down what else we ate, but all of it was delicious. For the main course I had some kind of pork magic...succulent and just beautiful in its porkiness. Dining companion had....some kind of fish that was cloaked in a sauce that blew my mind. Daughter had....can't remember, but she ate all of it, which really says something. Imagine my 13 year old's surprise when the waitress poured her a glass of wine along with myself and our dining companion. Apparently this is how they do it in London. Of course, being a responsible parent (and not wanting to waste an expensive glass of wine on someone who was really looking for a Coke), I gently slid her glass over to my side of the table and proceeded to sit there with 2 glasses of wine in front of me. Classy.
The service was quick and attentive, the setting was refreshingly un-fancy for such a famous restaurant.
It's amazing! A must visit. food is amazing, the staff is friendly and the atmosphere is very casual and chill.
Well, I've never been so surprised by a restaurant. When I heard they'd gotten two Michelin stars, I panicked thinking I 'd need a Swiss bank account, and I would be underdressed - I visualized formal waiters, white tablecloths and candles. Then I heard "classic British food and thought overcooked watery stuff. Not so on any front!
Suprisingly, we were seated at a long table with others, and then looked at the menu. There were so many great options! The home run unbelievable win was the Razor Clams. Incredibly rich and meaty - as good as it gets. Although meat heavy, the veggies were excellent too. The sweetbreads were also memorable.
The atmosphere was very nice, very active, divers crowd, homey bar, great wine list, etc. Thanks for the recommendation Chris!
Dont miss it if you get the chance...
Have wanted to go here for years (yeah, after the Anthony Bourdain episode... Cliché) so my hopes (and expectations) were rather high. This is in many cases a recipe for disappointment but St. John delivered!
It's not the most atmospheric of places but the service was superb and the food is great. Had the roasted bone marrow on toast for a starter (their signature dish) and can really recommend it.
It's a Michelin star place but still not too expensive: a bottle of wine and 3 courses for two people ca. 150€! Their wine list is long as the list of tube stations in London and caters for all price ranges.
Also even though they have a "the star" it's a very casual place: jeans and a shirt works as good as a suite (I think they might even look at you funny if you suite up)... :)
Although overall a great experience, my gripes were:
Paying normal food prices for bone marrow. I'm not a marrow expert but that's a bit steep for what used to be peasant food...
Bread at the table / bread with a starter...erm..a bit tacky in this day and age,
They were definitely one service member short imho. It took foreverrrrr to get anything.
The cockles were excellent though, and the middle white was an amazing cut of pork.
Try the eccles cake - it is a life changer.
(sorry. I drafted this months ago on my phone :3 )
So good, it is beyond words.
I was introduced to the place as a 'head to tail' establishment, meaning all the parts of an animal is used. My impression was that only the parts you normally don't eat was used. A MUST VISIT place for the culinarily curious, but if your diet predominantly is burgers, pizza and pasta....you may not like it. We had bone marrow, duck hearts, a kind of squid dish and (for good measure) a welsh rarebit (some kind of ham & cheese toasty for the non-british). All tremendously delicious!
The only thing i would recommend you guys is the roast bone marrow.
My friend had the salt mutton and i had the arbroath smokie. For the side dish, we had the green salad and welsh rarebit. Both main course are terribly too salty. I try to complained with the waitress but the response is the dishes come in the smoky, very intense way. At last it came to 76GBP in total in the bill which is quite expensive for that awful dishes.
The most important is, my friend feel sick on the taxi back home, and throw up! I wont come to this place again.
One of the most memorable meals of my life so far. I ordered the bone marrow toast/salad as a starter and the sweetbreads as a main, neither of which I had tried in my life. The bone marrow was delightfully mellow and buttery and literally melted onto the bread. The waiter was excellent and showed us the proper way to prepare the bread and marrow with a spoonful of rock salt. We were left with our tiny fork things digging at the bones to get the last bit out at the end, and it was difficult to let the waiter take them away. The sweetbreads (for the uninformed, as I was at the time, these are a selection of glands and bits from an animal, usually lamb or calf) were tender and succulent and had the most amazing sauce that I don't have the food vocabulary to describe. We had red wine with our meal, all the wines are French and it was whatever their house option was, and it didn't break the bank while complementing the meal nicely. Every part of this experience was excellent and unforgettable.
This place is very unsuspecting from the facade but I like this place so damn much that it was one of the most memorable meals of my recent trip to London. The interior is downplayed and understated. The atmosphere is somewhat rustic and unpretentious. It was like the chef and owner decided to turn a small market or industrial warehouse into a worthy restaurant. And worthy it is of its one Michelin star rating.
The menu changes daily and St John's concept is nose-to-tail eating. So if you're in for trying offal and innards, you're in for a delicious time here. Even if you're not so into offal, still give it a try-- who knows, you might leave as a convert?
Roasted bone marrow:
Very, very good. Spread it on your toast, sprinkle some sea salt over it, and garnish with parsley.
Is ok to brag that I've eaten lamb testicles now?! It was the special of the day so I'm assuming they don't have that everyday. Bbattered and deep fried, they came with a side of strong garlic dip. The testicles very definitely interesting and had a solid texture to it. I really liked the strong garlic dip with the fried testicles.
Crispy pig cheek and dandelion:
I dreamt for days about the pig cheeks after our meal at St John. The pieces of pig cheeks came with the pork crackling attached. The crackling was perfect and crisp, and the meat from the cheek melted in the mouth. Such contrasting textures... and so memorable.
Prior to this, I've only had tripe at Chinese, Vietnamese, and Japanese restaurants and they're usually on the chewy side with a crunch. Not at St John. The tripe here is the smoothest, most tender, and softest I've had. If anyone gets nervous at the thought of eating tripe and hasn't tried it yet, St John's braised tripe is an excellent introduction to one's palate. The braised dish came with white beans and pieces of pork belly. It was deep in flavor.
Definitely worth a return trip.
From the moment I learned that Yelp was planning to launch a UK wing, St. John has been at the top of my list of places to visit. Nose to tail is the pitch they present and as a fan of odd and interesting parts of animals and being a devout follower of the Bourdain school of yumminess, how could I not come here?
Last night was finally the night. We arrived quite early in the evening and were actually the first ones in the dining room. That's fine with me, I wasn't there for the people, the scene or anything besides the much rumored and foodie adored, Bone Marrow dish.
It was the first time I've ever had Marrow de Bone and wow, is there really anything better than smearing fat on toast and then adorning it with thin little slices of red onion and parsley and wet salt. Ummm, no. No there is not.
We also ordered the cheese plate and it was divine. Definitely a well plated plate for the pound. (Try saying that 3 times in a row drunk). When it came to picking a main I was at a total loss. Most of the things I had never even heard of. Faggots and Mash, whoa there, you'll get your ass kicked for saying that in the States! Brill, hmm, what is this Brill you speak of? Oh it's fish. But what about this Ox Heart. Ohhhh, the Ox Heart!
Our server raved about it, touting it as the best dish and her personal fave on the menu and with a sell like that, how could I go wrong. When it arrived it was beautifully presented and I was ready to dive right in...
The first bite: Hmmm, wow, this texture is really different.
The second bite: Wow, this is almost kinda spongy or bouncy
The third bite: Steph who friggin uses the terms spongy or bouncy to describe a dish.
The fourth bite: Yep, definitely bouncy and definitely deelish.
By the end, this was a killer dish and definitely worth going back for! I should also mention that the wine our server recommended was perfect and in a world full of up sells on the menus and servers not really knowing up from down, it was a true joy to come to a place where everything she said was true. Love it.
St. John is definitely worth a visit if you are one who doesn't shy away from things out of the norm. It's how I live my life, so I guess that explains the 5 stars :)
Carnivores of the world can unite in this "kill it, cook it, eat it" meaty meat meat-centric establishment.
And because I'm feeling saucy, I'll let you in on a little secret: meat was involved.
I delighted in the fact that I could only translate 3 items of the menu and that the rest of it consisted of words like faggot, brill, langoustines, trotter pie, chitterlings, chicory and other words that reminded me more of a Lucky Charms' commercial than menus of my familiar past.
But this didn't phase me -- in fact, we were there to experience the restaurant at the mercy of our exceptionally helpful and knowledgeable waitress, not to stick our noses up with comments like "my my, now *this* marrow is far more exquisite than that of bones I've indulged stateside," err, something.
After desperately scraping marrow from bones and intimately discussing how the best way to describe Ox heart is "bouncy," we sat back with a perfectly paired glass of wine and a plate of the stinkiest of stinky cheese, allowing our sense of taste to dominate all of the rest. The minimalist dining area truly feels like you are sitting in a kitchen and as white and chrome dominate in their sterility, you're left with only one focus: the food.
I can't take credit for any of the meal -- my job was to walk in and sit down, and the rest was chosen for me. I came, I ate, I drank, I paid, I enjoyed. IMMENSELY. And now I recommend you do the same.
I really wanted to love St John like most people already have but i don't know if it was an off night or what, but my experience was not the innovative palette pleaser I was expecting.
Usually, I can't go wrong when I'm going off of Tony Bourdain. He was grunting in satisfaction so many times on the London/Edinburgh episode while at St John that I was glad his show is on Cable TV.
Therefore, I had St John high on the list of places I wanted to try while in London and was so eager to try it, that when we mistakenly stumbled into the Bread & Wine version of the restaurant, we almost had our lunch right then and there. However, our reservation was at night (late night at that) and from the get-go things were not unpleasant but definitely not up to the standards I had come to expect from a formerly Michelin rated venue.
Service was adequate but yet dreadfully slow it seemed for our table of two. Having to flag down the wait staff and then wait half hour intervals was not at all my definition of a great restaurant. I think the waiting contributed to the fact that our appettites slowly deteriorated.
Bone Marrow with Parsley - Everyone raves about this and it was fatty and very tasty. The best part of the meal by far.
Brown Crab Meat on Toast - Not much to see here. Pretty standard and the crab meat wasn't exceptional nor did the flavor stand out.
Vegetable Soup - Actually quite good. It was savory and even a tinge of sweet and the texture of the soup and flavors from the mixture of vegetables worked in harmony. The temperature of the dish could have been warmer though.
Beef Roast - This came out lukewarm and unfortunately was way too bland. Not a good sign when the mashed potatoes are the best part of this dish.
Overall, I'd say St John was a disappointment but I came in with lofty expectations and I certainly could have been more adventurous in my orders. However, service was still painfully slow and the food I did order should have been prepared better.
My parents came to visit me in London for my 35th birthday (which happened to fall inbetween the Easter and Royal Wedding bank holidays), and I decided they should take me to a new and interesting restaurant. St. John it is. It also helped that it's in Restaurant magazine's top 50 restaurants in the world and that it's reasonably priced.
So my partner and I get there at 7:00 for 7:30 reservations. It's in a funny place, it's basically like a giant warehouse. It was a bit unexpected, but also added to the charm of the place. We walked through the bar to the dining room, checked in, and decided to get a drink while we waited for my parents. So what do you drink when you're out to celebrate? A bit of champers! We actually just got the house champagne, which was very reasonably priced and surprisingly tasty.
Once my parents showed up, we sat down for dinner. The dining room is a bit plain, but again, it really adds to the charm of the place. We got some suggestions for wine (which were all terrific and unusual). The bread was delicious. Looking at the menu, it was definitely my kind of food. I love offal, and I was excited by quite a few things on the menu. I know that the bone marrow was supposed to be amazing, but I also knew it was on the menu often, and there was a rabbit offal starter I was wanting to try, so I got that instead. My partner and my mother got the bone marrow, and my dad got the beetroot salad. They were all very tasty, but I think mine was the least tasty of the three. The bone marrow was very decadent and super tasty, so when I go back, that will probably be what I get.
For mains my partner and I both got sweetbreads. My mother had rabbit and my dad had pigeon. The sweetbreads were nice, but they weren't as good as some I've had at other places. So slightly disappointing but good. I had a bite of the rabbit and the pigeon and they were much better than the sweetbreads. Next time, I'm going to try the ox heart if it's available.
The desserts is where they shine. I ordered the ginger loaf and my partner ordered the chocolate slice (and we split them), my mother had the Eton mess and my dad had the honeycomb ice cream. They were all tasty. I honestly couldn't decided if I preferred the ginger loaf or the chocolate. They were both awesome.
One downfall is they did forget our Madeleine order. I did want to wait for them, but my dad was ready to go. Apparently she was more focused on writing down which one got a candle. She did feel bad.
So not perfect food or perfect service, but it was definitely up there. But the price is quite reasonable, so it feels like a place you can go back to more often than just once. I definitely want to go back and try some other things on the menu. I also want to try to get enough people together to get a roast pig.
So why five stars? Because they don't have a 4.5 option. I really keep waffling between 4 and 5. It wasn't perfect, but I had such a great time.
For the fastidious carnivores who look for those bits and portions of the animal that most folks overlook, this place is a temple to those converts. Herein these walls are served the portions that may repel the masses but entice the enlightened. Bone marrow, lamb tongues, ox cheeks, venison liver, veal sweetbread.. these are the offal fares that delight the palate with both pungence and subtlety. Game meats are intense but balanced and well-prepared.
The dessert offering is also very good if you manage to save some appetite. The crumble and custard is excellent, as is the bread pudding in the delectable butterscotch. I like the lemon meringue the best of the lot.
The best way to enjoy the fares here is to be a participant of their 'feasting' menu. Bring your friends and bring your appetite.. because this is not a meal for weight conscious.
This place should be a mandatory visit for all Italian and French tourists snootily landing in the capital thinking that it's a beautiful city where people eat crappy food. The fact that a restaurant like this exists, and it's wildly successful, is a great proof not only of the quality and variety of the offer in the city, but also of the maturity in the taste of the London gourmets.
I hesitate in describing this as "british" cuisine. In fact, it's a temple of meat, where most of the dishes are cooked with the simplicity and efficacy of home-made Italian food. More than one dish I tasted there reminded me of something that my mother cooks regularly, or that my grandmother used to cook: insofar that I was tempted to go to the kitchen and suggest some creative use of beef lungs or kidneys.
The main source of this similarity comes from the fact that most of the dishes at the Sain't John are prepared with less valuable cuts of meat, from what skilful hands extract unexpected (and potentially unfamiliar) tastes through masterful cooking and simple matchings. There are no intrusive sauces trying to cover the taste of the meat: most of the courses are presented in their utter simplicity, and for a real meat lover this is the perfect way to do it.
I ordered the ox heart: I love ox heart, my mother used to do that often with parsley and wine. This was just as good. I briefly tasted the beetroot and horseradish that came on the side, but for me (while tasty) they were redundant. I had the opportunity to taste the famous bone marrow (and don't get me started with how bone marrow is central to the Milanese cuisine both for the "ossobuco con polenta" and the properly done "risotto alla milanese") and found it delicious, but it's the chitterlings that I found really amazing, reminding me of tastes that I experienced in my life on a few happy occasions, particularly in some wonderful restaurants in Rome.
We picked a random wine from the very good list and it turned out to be a perfect matching. Prices very, very good for this kind of quality, surely helped by the minimalist fittings and the somewhat hasty attitude of the waiters. Even the coffee was good, what could I ask more?
I have never and may never have a meal quite like the one I had at St. John. Everything about it seemed just... different. From the perspective of food - I had a great many tastes that were new and delicious: be that bone marrow, hearts, or an incredible date and toffee sauce. From the perspective of service: It was entirely unstuffy, but at the same time, we felt that our waiter could anticipate exactly what we wanted from our meal. I had never had a Tasting Menu with Ale before - but it came out perfectly here. In a restaurant defined (in some ways) by pork, we enjoyed a multi-course meal that was entirely pig free.
St. John is a Michelin Starred restaurant, but also a working pub - with tables and stools for those to drop by an enjoy a beer or two. After wandering into the Dining Room, our meal contained one great surprise after another. Fresh Sea Urchins, Bone Marrow and Parsley Salad, Smoked Fish, Creamy Haddock with Saffron, Country Fowl with Sweet Potatoes, Madeleines, Toffee and Date Cake, Eccles Cake - everything tasted delicious. Some were rich. Well, most were rich. But the contrast amongst tastes and textures was stark. And all the while we were treating incredibly by servers who clearly care deeply about their food and their restaurant. The highlight? Probably the desserts. Make sure to save room.
In a word - St. John was awesome. I will be back.
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