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Andy Lynes

St John

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A delicious meal here yesterday - we started well with a very tasty bloody mary in the bar before moving through to our table. The Home baked bread was lovely and tasted almost treacley (?) I started with the Terrine of Middlewhite Pork made from liver/kidney and as well as the belly/shoulder etc with cornichons which was very good indeed while my friend had the duck hearts with celeriac which was also very tasty. Mains i chose arbroath smokies with mash and a side of spring greens and my friend went for calves liver with lentils. The smokies were great, a very generous portion though and i only managed half, my friends liver was a thin slice but perfectly cooked and the lentils were very good too. I only had room for a scoop of Dr hensdersons icecream to finish - frenet branca and creme de menthe which had a real kick, i would definitely go back for my friends rhubarb crumble alone as this was fab, another hearty portion piled high with vanilla icrecream too. The bill with a bottle of (very good) house wine was £50 each which i felt was very reasonable considering how full and content i was when i left.


"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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Had a nice lunch in the bar last Sunday - I was working nearby (no one else fancied it). Welsh rarebit - very tasty, Squirrel broth - light but a nice meatiness provided by the squirrel and a glass of red. A great lunch for £18.


Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana.

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I visited St John last week for the first time, and I found the whole event one of the best dining experiences I have ever had. I know I am a little late eulogising about the place as it has been documented for years, but it really is a unique special place. I suppose it started by meeting Fergus outside whilst he was having a fag and chatting to him about various things e.g. “ I think Michelin have changed not us” . I know it’s a cliché but he really is such an interesting and down to earth person. I think when he assured me that I would enjoy my lunch, I was primed.

The bar area I found really cool, with a real nice buzz going on, not to mention the selection of beers and ales. I love Meantime beers, but have never had them on tap, they have an excellent selection, as well as a few guest beers. I would say this has to be the best selection of brews on tap I have seen on offer in any restaurant in a while.

I really loved the restaurant space, the whiteness just seemed so, erm, natural? I find it hard to explain!! Again the place had a real buzz about it, the staff young and hip, and really enjoying themselves and appearing to have fun. I think it kind of reminded me of places I have visited in Barcelona, around the market areas, it had that buzz to it.

Bread is excellent, best bread I have had in a while, fresh, soft and chewy. I had Nettle soup, which was delicious. Then Octopus, fennel and Aioli, which was beyond words, nothing overly technical, just a really delicious dish. Then went for Pigeon and beetroot, which was as earthy and natural as could be. Astounding. Nearly every other table was ordering the bone marrow and parsley salad dish, I may try this the next time.

I skipped dessert, I am sure they are divine, however when you have a good savoury taste in your mouth , sometimes sweetness is best avoided.

Went back to the bar to sample some more great ales and have another chat with the staff and locals.

I am almost trying to work out what made this place so amazing, and I think it is genuinely that it is just happy doing what it is doing., which of course made me feel quite happy being there. It also had a very local feel to it, the kind of feel you get from your local pub. The whole environment just bubbles over with a real attitude of eat, drink and enjoy.

To be honest I was going through a period of being uninspired by food, and bored with restaurants, but St John has awoken that joy again. I have just been thinking of the place constantly, I am sure you can relate to that experience, where you can’t get a restaurant out of your mind. Almost like being in love….. :smile:

I just wish I had a restaurant like this were I live, in fact, I am thinking of giving up my life in the North to live in the Clerkenwell area, just based on this experience.

I think Fergus is right Michelin has changed, as this is just so unlike any starred restaurant I have eaten in, and so much the better for it.

After St John went to the fabulous Jerusalem Tavern. People of Clerkenwell you really have it all on your doorstep!!!!

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I Finally got around to visiting St John on Friday.

I've been meaning to go for years, but never got around to it. Strangely I'm often out in Farringdon on nights out with friends but I never realised where it was!

Started off with the bread - as you might expect it is excellent accompanied by some lightly salted and delicious butter. I already knew what I was going to order for starter - yes, you guessed it, the parsley and bone marrow salad. My friend ordered the braised pig's head.

The parsley and bone marrow combination was delightful. I was initially surprised at how it was served - although I shouldn't have been, and after an initial struggle I soon got the hang of extracting as much marrow as I could. So often food fails to live up to expectations but it was not the case here, and both myself and my friend nodded in appreciation to our starters. I tried some of the pig's head and was pleasantly surprised - it was light and almost delicate, nothing like what I had expected and it made an excellent starter.

For mains I opted for some braised rabbit whilst my friend went for the sweetbreads with peas. The rabbit was very well cooked, but I couldn't help thinking the dish was lacking a little something. It was slightly under-seasoned and I think an extra flavour there could have helped things on a little. My friends sweetbreads were however delicious.

Finally dessert - I opted for a raspberry shortcake tart and my friend went for the chocolate slice. Both were excellent, the chocolate slice being the pick of the two. It was baked like a brownie with an almost crisp exterior, whilst at the same time being soft enough to melt in the mouth.

All in all a very nice meal and I can now see why it's regarded as one of the top restaurants in the world. I'll definitely be making a return!

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Had a great Sunday lunch last weekend. " Peas in the pod "which I just had to order for no other reason than childish delight. " Snails in Oakleaf " simple yet delicious. " Heart, beetroot and horseradish", really good piece of heart and the horseradish mindblowing-literally. Usual " Lancs and Eccles". Really good atmosphere on a Sunday.

Notice today bone marrow not on the menu??

Spent late Sunday evening having a few drinks with the workers in Smithfield.

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I also had lunch there last week. I have become a fan of "Roast Bone Marrow & Parsley Salad" a very good dish.

We also had the "grilled sardines," which were fine, the "Peas in the pod" were ok, a tad boring. This was followed by a delicious "Roast Middlewhite and Braised Carrots" and the "Braised Rabbit and Onions." Both were superb.

And although both waiters recommended the "Gooseberry Jelly and Shortbread" it was just ok for me and a not very imaginative "Strawberry, Meringue and Cream" was very good indeed.

After having so-so experiences at "AD," "Maze," "River Café" and others, "St. John" has become my favorite restaurant in London, bar none.

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Had Sunday lunch here Yesterday, which foolishly we preceded with a bacon sandwich at St John Bread and Wine, so our appetites were slightly dulled.

I had the bone marrow dish which I've cooked myself many times, and I love, of course the restaurants version was better than mine, it was in fact excellent, and judging by the high proportion of the dining room digging marrow out of bones and searching for the last nugget, it's a deservedly popular dish. Mrs Soundman had the crispy pigs ear and watercress which she loved, I tried it and loved it too, though thought the ears could have done with some (more?) seasoning.

Main courses were, for me, lambs sweetbreads, peas and bacon, and it was a pretty simple but very very tasty dish, not much more to it than the three main elements, but it was none the worse for that, proper satisfying food. Mrs Soundman had the snails, sausage and chickpeas, again simple and 'proper'. Perfectly cooked and presented, with a really deep flavour.

We had no room for puddings or cheese, but did manage to seal our few pints of Hay Maker with a Grappaesque drink from Alsace made with gewertz grapes.

Service was attentive and friendly, the bill was pretty cheap, everything about our visit was perfect. It's been a place we've wanted to visit for years and it met all our expectations, we'll be back.

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Just in case you read other newspapers and may miss this, is he the only one to be underwhelmed?

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/re...eld-London.html

No.

I agree with most of this.

I prefer to be comfortable when I eat. I prefer not to feel like I'm eating in a post-Soviet hospital, with staff to match.

For some reason I usually feel like I'm being watched, and if I don't make suitably pretentious conversation, will be judged accordingly. I don't think this is Fergus' fault, I think it's perhaps the fault of his customers. The bone marrow is wonderful, really really wonderful, I just wish I could eat it in less sterile surroundings.

Sarah


Edited by battleofthebulge (log)

Sarah

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A good lunch here in the bar yesterday. Broad bean and Berkswell salad and some very good Potted Beef with pickled red cabbage for me, Old Spot sandwich for my Sister. Finished with a shared Eccles cake and lancashire cheese, 3 glasses of wine, coffe and a couple of cokes for £40. Is it the second best restaurant in the UK? It depends what your criteria are and what you like in my opinion. Is it somewhere serving consistently well sourced and well prepared, simple dishes that make my mouth water so much i am in danger on dribbling over my keyboard when checking the daily menu out on line - absobloomin'lutely. I remain as ever a huge fan.


"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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I need to curb my St John addiction!!!! Popped down again for Sunday lunch with my daughter, the self proclaimed kid critic. One thing about St John is the atmosphere is always vibrant and welcoming, which she immediatly commented on.

Had a range of dishes, she had the bone marrow and then Foie Gras, which was in pate form, all deemed delicious. I had Cockles, Leek and Laver Bread, which was just divine. I then had quail and ailoi, which had a seriously high level of garlic, and quail ripped apart Henry the Eight style.

All well received and enjoyed.

I had the usual Eccles cake, which my mind was telling me I couldn't finish but my body was telling me I must, or was it the other way round? I would happily eat this every day if I could.

The little one had Berry Ice cream which she hailed a great.

Service as always very friendly and helpful, and this time child friendly.

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I had the usual Eccles cake, which my mind was telling me I couldn't finish but my body was telling me I must, or was it the other way round? I would happily eat this every day if I could.

I know what you mean. And given a nice wedge of Stichleton, it's like a vicious cycling back-and-forth until the whole lot is gone.

You know, the recipe in his cookbook seems simple enough. But I can't seem to overcome the mental block that goes up when I see the amount of butter involved. Sometimes, ignorance is truly blissful. :laugh:


“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

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Does anyone know who the Chef de Cuisine is at The Fat Duck now? Are there two? We were there last week and honestly, we were both disappointed. My husband loved his braised kidneys, and my marrow bones were find. Too much for one person (too rich), but really tasty. My Old Spot ham was horrid. The jellied ham, lovely. The gentleman at the door the highlight of the evening. The service: hardly existent. The chef: rude. I wrote about it on my site:

http://www.acanadianfoodie.com/2010/04/04/home-later-today-from-london-uk/

was Sooooooo disappointed to come all this way for this. Loved the place and the vibe - at first.

ANyone had a recent experience there?

Thanks.

:)

Valerie

My link


Edited by A Canadian Foodie (log)

Make it Happen

Valerie: A Canadian Foodie

Email me

http://www.acanadianfoodie.com

I love my Thermomix!

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Haven't been there for about 18 months now, having previously been multiple times over a couple of years. My experience of the food is that the offally stuff has always been extremely good. The more normal fare much less so. I recall my wife, who is not an offal fan, chewing her way through a slab over over cooked pork costing close to 20 quid. I don't mind paying a markup on chitterlings or tripe because you just don't get the opportunity to eat them in a restaurant normally, but for a slab of roast meat or game bird I think they're taking the mickey a bit. Service has always been just OK, IMO. I'd still go back, but I like the food I think they do well.

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Does anyone know who the Chef de Cuisine is at The Fat Duck now?

Anyone had a recent experience there?

I assume you mean at St John (not The Fat Duck)? (I was very confused initially since I had just read your Fat Duck review!)

The St John website says the following, but I don't know if this is up to date:

The kitchens at St. John are led by Chris Gillard and sous-chef Tom Harris.

Edited by JudyB (log)

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Yes - I did mean St. John... silly of me. I did find that information on the website, too - but then looked for images of both, and could only find images of Chris G... and he certainly was not the chef there that evening. That is why I asked. I am sincerely curious about who was there doing what I saw and felt a disservice to this possibly and supposedly incredible place. Thanks so much for catching my error - and for the search on my behalf. Truly appreciate it! Valerie


Make it Happen

Valerie: A Canadian Foodie

Email me

http://www.acanadianfoodie.com

I love my Thermomix!

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a friends parents went about 2 weeks ago and also said it was poor, they had been banging on about it for ages and then when it came to the crunch they said they were servilely disappointed. they claimed poor service and bad food was their reason but didnt give too much detail on the food side of things.

i dont think this will put me off going still but i do think this will put me off saying how much of an 'institute' this place has become. maybe theyre working too hard on the hotel or something?

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Anything new on St. John? We'll be there in two weeks...we are from Philly and love offal, but are going with others from Wokingham who are not at all adventurous.

Thanks!


Philly Francophiles

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Was there last week for a big group dinner. We had the Smoked Pollack salad, the Bone marrow and a suckling pig. Food was very good (a couple of the bone marrows were overdone, but not too badly) but service wasn't. Wine list is ok; nothing that is standout good quality. We had the Croze hermitage which was good. The waitress then recommended a bottle of les Sorcieres 2008 from Rousillon; that was terrible.

I will go back, but find that the service for big groups is generally bad, particularly if you're in the main dining room.


'You can't be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline - it helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer.'

- Frank Zappa

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image_0001.jpg

Don,t know why it has taken us so long to try this place out. It would seem that I always have some excuse or otherwise as to not go. Perhaps I don't fancy offal on the day, or its too hot for gutsy food, or I,m not too hungry, or I just fancy some other place a bit more.

So finally we arrive to the most nondescript exterior ever. Inside its more inviting, with a bakery straight in front of you, and a casual dining area. To the left is a bar.

image_0010.jpg

image_0002.jpg

Everything seems a tad worn and in need of a touch up, including the dining room proper. I did not bother with a photo as it was quite dark in there given the low lighting.

Now we did not have a "rocky table" thankfully, but we did have a dodgy floorboard, which needed some slight underpinning. Everything is given the whiteout treatment except the bentwood chairs, even the said floorboards are worn white.

The menu is everything that I expected, with eleven starters, nine mains, and eight puddings, plus the famous madeleines in half or one dozen size.

A separate list of sides totalling five, includes, welsh rarebit, and cheese.

Surprisingly, little offal was on the menu, only Calves liver, chitterlings, and? well I think that was all from memory.

image_0003.jpg

We expected the bread to be good, especially as its baked on the premises. It certainly looked the part with the swiss cheese holes in it, but it was a bit too thick on the crust and slightly too chewy for my liking. Butter was fridge cold and again a bit of forethought could have corrected this annoying occurence.

image_0004.jpg

Celeriac Soup and Snails (£7) was thoughtfully plated in two bowls by the kitchen, as we told our waitress we would be sharing the dishes.

It did have a wonderful depth of flavour, and some bits of celeriac were left chunky in the soup to add texture. The snails played their part adding a chewy burst of, well, snail.

image_0005.jpg

Next up was Beetroot, Boiled Egg and Anchovy (£7.20) and that folks is exactly what it was. Simple, simple, simple. It did have some spinach leaves through it, plus a reacurring dressing of shallot, and baby capers. Jolly nice it was too.

image_0006.jpg

We just simply had to try the Roast Bone Marrow and Parsley Salad (£7). Now we had to try this dish, because its a signiture dish, and we wanted to make a comparison to the ones we ate at Hawksmoor, a couple of weeks ago. And as good as they were, they were no where near as tasty as the above mentioned. The parsley salad was refreshing, again having the mild baby capers, adding a bit of zing.

image_0007.jpg

I looked at the Middlewhite Pork loin, White beans and Seabeet (£23.50) but was put off by the price. Yes I know its a rare breed, but come on, its too pricey especially when Turbot, Fennel and Green Sauce (£24) is only fifty p more.

This was a good bit of cooking, full of flavour, meaty fresh fish, served on the bone for more fishy flavour. Ok, it was a bit more work, but worth it, if you can put up with the bones. The fennel of course worked really, really well, and the "green sauce" which included, marjoram, lemon thyme and the those ubiquitous capers, split the other two components by adding a teasing note. Highly enjoyable.

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Mallard and Artichokes (£18.20) Was worth its price tag, perfectly pink bird, nicely seared and seasoned. Earthy artichokes and peppery rocket were just right. The addition of braised shallots was welcomed.

image_0009.jpg

Sprout Tops (3.60) and New Potatoes (£3.60) were ok, I personally did not like the texture of the tops, but Mrs G did.

We were full by now, but under normal circumstances we would have shared a pudding, for " research purposes " only, however nothing much tempted us, so we refrained.

"Did you say this place had a Michelin Star" proclained the other half.

"Yes it has" said I.

"Why"

We enjoyed St John, its been on my hit list for an age. It is a must visit for any foodie, a bit like the Fat Duck in that respect. Would we dash back?

I don't think so, the food is good, without a shadow of a doubt. Service was just, well OK. But it really is hyped to the rafters. And as for the Michelin Star.

Please don't get me started on that one.

Our bill with a 10% tip came to £95 which included the food above, plus three glasses of Grenache/Syrah at £15.30. No coffees,Thames tap water, no service charge is levied.

Happy eating.

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I'd suggest anyone who is not sure about if they like St Johns go for a dishes or two off the bar menu, very occasionally they have some of the classics on there. It will give you an idea what you can expect. Sometimes me and my work colleagues, who are up for it, pop in there for lunch. Can be brilliant - pig spleen, Squirl broth or not good at all - e.g dried beef (Like bressola) a portion so small a mouse would still be hungry, and no warning from the staff.

You can get 2 dishes and a pint (Glass of house wine) for less than £20

If you do pop in and it fits in buy some bread, it's very good.


Edited by ermintrude (log)

Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana.

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Went there for annual lads lunch yesterday - shared a few oysters to start then had a classic pea & ham soup, scrumptious pheasant and trotter pie and a disappointing blackberry ice cream. Drank beer, a good value Picpoul de Pinet (£22), decent 2006 Bandol (£50) and an unusual dessert wine aged in cognac barrels. £75 inc. a good tip.

I like St John because it's not just full of suits, it serves unusual food and they have an ideology. It's not in the Michelin mode and deliberately so - I guess they were given a star in recognition for the influence they have had on London dining - it's the motherlode for a style of cooking that is now common (and arguably better done elsewhere) but it has never compromised on its style and I applaud it for that.

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