The original michelin starred St. John restaurant based in Farringdon is known for using every part of the animal. For example, when my gentleman companion and I went a few years ago, we had lamb tongue, ox tongue and a whole grouse that was so rare it felt like we were vultures eating the freshly dead carcass.
We hoped that the menu at this new St. John Hotel restaurant based just off Leicester Square would provide equally interesting cuts of meat and we weren’t disappointed.
The restaurant is small with an open plan kitchen which gives the place a buzzy atmosphere. Our waiter was extremely friendly but slightly bordering on forceful. We decided not to go for a starter but he made it impossible for us to say no as he informed us our main course took 35 minutes to cook. Thank God he did twist our arms as the starter we had was absolutely incredible.
Snail, duck heart and lovage (£8.50) was all cooked to perfection. The duck hearts (a first for both of us) were pink and had the consistency of duck breast. I’m shocked that every chef in London isn’t using them. They are delicious! Our waiter informed us that lovage is a type of herb and the chefs make it into a butter which becomes the sauce. He brought over more bread for us to dunk in which was kind of him. If I had less class I would have licked the plate clean and asked for seconds.
Our main course was rabbit and wild garlic pie (£34). It was for two people to share and it was a very generous portion. The pastry top was buttery and flakey and I nearly fainted in my seat it was so good. And that was before I had even eaten the filling. Moist and tender rabbit with sweet garlic tasted phenomenal. So good in fact I had to tell the waiter it was the best pie I had ever eaten. We also had a side of jersey royal potatoes (£4.50) as our waiter, who was clearly the master of the up sell, had suggested.
As we ordered a dessert to share, he said “it can only go downhill from here” and he was sadly right. Caramel cream doughnuts (£7) were served warm and dusted with sugar. The doughnut itself was perfect and not too stodgy but the caramel cream filling was bitter and tasted of burnt sugar. It wasn’t however totally unbearable as all three doughnuts were demolished in minutes.
If you’re a fussy eater then this might not be the restaurant for you but if you’re willing to try new things then this place is a corker. The food is simply cooked and presented but in terms of flavour, it’s a knockout.