23 March 2011

London Eats - St John Restaurant

You will be thinking by now that pretty much all I did in London was eat and you would be about right.  I was very tempted to make a return trip to Ottolenghi but with so much in offer and so little time I decided to expand my horizons.  St John Restaurant has always been on the list of restaurants I have wanted to pay a visit to.  The chef is Fergus Henderson, he of Nose to Tail fame and also his use of offal and making use of the whole animal.  He really is a bit of a pioneer in bringing the likes of trotters, tripe, faggots and chitterlings back to the table.

The restaurant is in East London and is a simple but elegant setting, pared back and understated just like the food.  High ceilings, white walls, white table cloths, simple light fittings...no ostentatious displays here, and I liked it, a lot.

To start it had to be the roasted bone marrow and parsley salad, the only main stay on the menu, everything else changing daily.  It is an impressive dish arriving with the bone marrow standing proud and to attention.  I also love dishes that come with accoutrement and this comes with a little thingy to gouge out all that delicious marrow.  The parsley salad flecked with capers and a little onion is fresh and sharp against the rich marrow bone.  To assemble smear the bone marrow over the grilled sourdough bread, top with the salad and some salt.   Slightly chewy grilled sourdough, rich bone marrow, fresh parsley, sharp little capers, a clean bite of onion and a good sprinkle of salt...only one word really, delicious.

Next up was pigeon and beetroot with some new potatoes on the side.  Crispy skin revealing perfectly cooked pigeon breast, rare, tender and meaty.  I have never had pigeon before and it was tender, almost silky in texture, a little like duck so not overly gamey. On the side beetroot with watercress...the peppery watercress playing nicely with the sweet beetroot.  With some new potatoes simply boiled and dressed with a little parsley and butter a meal that allowed each of the flavours to stand out.

Just couldn't pass on dessert, and I am on holiday.  I was very tempted by Marmalade Ice Cream but I had seen the Bitter Chocolate Cream and Brandy Snaps and could go past the bitter chocolate.  The cream was indulgent and decadent just as chocolate cream should be, the texture of a thick clotted cream.  It was full of that dark bitter chocolate flavour that I love.  The brandy snaps light and crisp against the rich, smooth chocolate.  On the side some poached prunes, there fruitiness cutting through the rich and the sweet.  Yes that was one very, very good dessert.  And to finish things off a coffee, and it didn't disappoint either. 

So if you are in East London pop in to St John's for a taste of good, honest British food at its very best.

Couldn't resist adding this little snippet.


  1. OMG that dessert looks sooooooo tempting!!

  2. Oh my! Looks like you're having an amazing time, no need to apologise for eating so much when there are so many incredible cafe and restaurants.

  3. I giggled a little at the "may contain lead shot" :) Bone marrow! Pigeon! So many things to try!

  4. When's your next installment M - can't wait. Loving reading about your travels and food adventures!! have just caught up as a rainy night in Auckland.

  5. Thanks Stephanie...in Scotland now and then heaps of eats to come from Amsterdam & Paris....v excited :)


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