I remember my first dinner at St John, a Michelin-starred institution by Trevor Gulliver and Fergus Henderson, a good few years back. I tried tongue for the first time, both lamb and ox, and my gentleman companion struggled to finish a grouse so rare it was practically squawking. It was brilliant.
We recently returned on a Thursday evening (after Lizzie Mabbot‘s Chinatown Kitchen book launch at the Drapers Arms – do have a look at it on Amazon) with no reservation and they managed to squeeze us in – only just. The dining room was packed with an intriguing mix of suited, high-fiving men and trendy chaps with beards. Service was quick-paced but super friendly.
We decided to share the brown shrimp with white cabbage (£7.80) and the roast bone marrow with parsley salad (£8.20). The latter was utterly divine; you had to scoop the marrow out of the giant bones, spread it on the toast, sprinkle with smoked salt and top with salad. It was proper heart attack grub but my God, it was absolutely heavenly. A definite bucket list dish.
For main, the lamb sweetbreads, carrots and wild garlic (£18.20) was basically a plate of hearty stew. The sweetbreads, and there was bloomin’ loads of ’em, were cooked to perfection. The brill with aioli (£23.80) was also cooked spot-on but the red wine leeks were a little overwhelming as there was such a huge pile of them. A side of greens (£3.70) was just what we needed to accompany the rich food.
For pudding we opted for the profiteroles (£8.20) which had been stuffed with vanilla ice cream. The jug of hot chocolate sauce (click here to see my Vine) added to the decadence. We couldn’t resist getting half a dozen freshly baked Madeleines (£4.50) which really were so very tasty that we polished the lot, even though we were at the point of combustion. I challenge you to find a finer baked good than one of those Madeleines.
Years have passed since our first visit but St John is still a ruddy good restaurant. It’s as unpretentious as it gets; simple food cooked simply and served in simple surroundings (the dining room is a bit like that episode of Mr Bean where he puts a firework in the pot of white paint). If you haven’t been before, then go, and if you haven’t been for ages, then go again, you won’t regret it.