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Andy Lynes

St John

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I agree completely with Andy.I think St.John's rejection of any garnish or adornment goes beyond the functional and into the puritanical.You do not have to construct tower blocks on a plate in order to present food as attractively as possible.

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I wasn't referring specifically to anyone's comments -- this is a controversy that will run and run. There is a legend of a French monk who was sent to England as a punishment for some unspecified misbehavior and who wrote home that the English knew nothing of presenting food: "They serve it forth as hay to horses." (But his unexpected conclusion was that the exile had been worth it to have discovered the English pudding!)


John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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Wilfrid -- I had dinner at the bar area of St John last night. The manager confirmed that there were no more squirrels, and also that those rodents had been sourced from Babbington and another vendor without shooting (using boxes placed in trees).

I know this may be too late for you, but asked to look at the menu for the restaurant. The interesting items included appetizers of (1) duck neck and green beans (6.30), and (2) cured beef and celeriac (7.80). Entrees in the restaurant included (1) steak pie, for two (28.00), (2) chitterlings and lentils (12.40), (3) ox tongue, beetroot and pickled walnut (13.50), and (4) rabbit, bacon and prunes (14.40).

Back to my meal, which was below-average relative to other meals taken at St John (in no small part due to my haphazard ordering of dishes, in hindsight). With a glass of white Burgundy and a glass of cool, hoppy-tasting Brittany cider, the meal came to 31 pounds.

-- 3 Irish oysters

-- Boiled egg and celery salt: The egg was not particularly tasty, and the celery salt was also average.

-- Anchovy toast: I had expected the anchovies to be placed whole on the large piece of toast, but only anchovy paste was utilized.

-- Pork loin in a green sauce: This dish was impressive, including due to its simplicity. The pork loin was presented thinly sliced and at room temperature, but markedly tender and natural in taste. Appropriate amounts of fat and gelantinous material clung shyly to the meat. I also enjoyed the green sauce. The recipe for the sauce is included in Henderson's book, and includes parsley (curly and flat-leafed), mint, dill, tarragon, chopped anchovies, garlic, capers, crushed black peppers and extra virgin olive oil. The garlic and parsley flavors were appropriately in the foreground of the sauce, which contained enough oil to enhance the pork loin.  

-- Brown bread ice cream: I sampled this traditional British item for the first time. According to one of the bar service team members, breadcrumbs and sugar are combined and baked, and then mixed with other ingredients to form this dessert. The crumbs were slightly crunchy, but well balanced with a dense cream-like material that, for me, resembled butter (sweetened) more than typical ice cream both in texture and taste. I enjoyed this dish too.

Andy -- I am not sure that St John has a studied casualness any more than any restaurant has (or at least should have) goals with respect to its cuisine, service, decor etc. that should be internally consistent. The casualness is appropriate for Henderson's ingredients-driven cuisine and generally simply-prepared (in a good way) cuisine as well. Note I don't mind Michelin aspiring restaurants, so long as their cuisine renders their goal realistic.  It's the Michelin aspiring restaurants lacking a cuisine that allows possible attainment of their goal that amuse me. :wink:

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Last Monday Nichola Fletcher of Reediehill Farm conducted a comparative game tasting for the Guild of Food Writers . . . .

In the case of the woodcock we were each given a small round crouton with a smear of the guts, topped with a morsel of the meat. The crouton was sensational.

John Whiting -- My post has been updated to reflect a response to Andy now. On woodcock, the Writers Guild meal you describe sounds interesting. I am interested in sampling it further. See "White Truffles; Woodcock" in this forum (it's an older thread). It is the most interesting birdie I have tasted, but the ultimate prize of a certain Mitterand-related birdie has been evasive. Was there talk of the ortolan at the Writers Guild? I presume that item is not illegal in the US?

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John - that game tasting sounds extremely interesting, Is it possible to get a opinion on the other types of game that were sampled?

I have read the the "special" taste of the woodcock trial is from the presence of tape-worms in the gut (these are not voided). Was there any mention of this?

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Have to sign off soon -- La Tante Claire beckons. Koffman's supposed to have a good pied de cochon, if I recollect properly. :confused:

Cabrales, please report on your meal at La Tante Claire, I haven't been for a while and Pierre Koffman is certainly one of the best chefs in Britain.


"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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Cabrales - No talk of ortolan; I don't know if they can be legally obtained in this country. It's interesting that the English gastronome tends to spare a bird if it can sing beautifully. As for the woodcock/tapeworm thesis, what an intriguing notion! But one which doesn't bother me particularly, given what precisely goes on in a bird when it is hung.

My wife and I once had the benefit of butchers' lore in dealing with a (tame) duck which had been stored for several days in a neighbor's defective refrigerator. We were living in South Kensington at the time and went to a distinguished local butcher in Bute Street. "Don't bring it in," he commanded, "I'll come outside." He took a sniff and proclaimed, "You can still rescue it. Rub it inside and out with Fairy Liquid and leave it for a few minutes, then rinse it thoroughly under the cold tap -- you don't want any bubbles. Dry it well and roast it as usual. The smell will be gone and it'll be very tender." It was in fact perfect. Whenever I go into a strange butcher's I always look for the Fairy Liquid.


John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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John - did he say what type of Fairy Liquid to use. This could be very important. Maybe not, those Frenchies most likely have a more evolved dish-washing-liquid-duck-washing-technique :smile: .

I am very suprised that pheasant was placed so highly. Not that I don't like pheasant, its just with game like grey partridge, grouse (both not in season?) and  blue mountain hare avalible, I thought it would be lower ranking.

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Cabrales - No talk of ortolan; I don't know if they can be legally obtained in this country. It's interesting that the English gastronome tends to spare a bird if it can sing beautifully.

John Whiting -- The ortolan is, I think, prohibited in the UK, France and Monaco. It might not be prohibited in the US (??), but it presumably might be hard to transport there. As indicated in my post on ortolans somewhere on this board, Ducasse has transported them into the US using a document envelope. I also think the deceased Palladin had somehow served them at one prior point in time.

Woodcock is prohibited in France and Monaco, but not in the UK. Hence, the reputable establishments where one can find it when it is in season.   :wink:

Adam -- I agree, with respect to your observations on grouse vs. pheasant. I have only had red grouse, but that grouse (at least the three or four times I have had it) was considerably more flavorful (especially on the nose) than pheasant. The level of distinctivenes (i.e., difference from other game) was also higher for grouse, in my mind.   :wink: Have you tried horse, zebra or antelope? I am thinking about going to Archipelago in the next several weeks to try some variety of antelope. It's listed in Michelin (at least when it used to operate as the Birdcage), so it is likely a decently reliable establishment.

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There was a recent thread asking about suckling pig around here somewhere. Can't seem to find it now. Anyway had a nice meal at St John last night but I'm posting to say that they brought in a whole roasted suckling pig for a group.

When we asked we were told that it costs £280 and that it has to be ordered 7 days in advance. A whole pig will feed 14 people.


Edited by Tonyfinch (log)

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There is no way that a suckling pig will feed fourteen people. It may just make a banquet dish for fourteen pixies. Did these other diners have pointy ears and speak with cornish accents? :smile:

A suckling pig should be just that, "suckling". In most commercial piggeries this will mean removing the piglets from their mothers at about four weeks of age. I can imagine that St, Johns uses the best meat it can get and that the piglets are left on there mother for considerably longer then four weeks, but they should still be small enough that they are not eating solid food or mash and this means that they will be quite small, not enough for fourteen people.

Tony - how big was this piglet?

No wonder the butcher tried to charge me eighty quid for a suckling pig last year, prehaps the UK idea of a suckling pig is rather different to mine. My idea of a suckling pig is something that I can eat by myself in one sitting.

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Adam it was the waitress who told us it fed 14 people but I did notice there wasn't 14 in the group. I counted 10.

I only caught a glimpse of said piggy when they brought it in to the restaurant. I'd say it was larger than could fit into a conventional domestic oven but not much.

Thinking about it I agree that even ten portions would make fairly meagre portion sizes for someone with my galumphing appetite.

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Thinking about it I agree that even ten portions would make fairly meagre portion sizes for someone with my galumphing appetite.

Ah, I see. THey must be trying for a star then. :smile:

I wouldn't wnat a sucking pig to be over five kilos in weigh (live), and would prefer under five kilos.

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The suckling pig at St J's is advertised as being for fourteen. It quite comfortably serves two Majumdar brothers as long as there are ample side orders of snouts and tails

S

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The suckling pig at St J's is advertised as being for fourteen.  It quite comfortably serves two Majumdar brothers as long as there are ample side orders of snouts and tails

S

Very witty. Is this what would be a publishers joke?

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The suckling pig at St J's is advertised as being for fourteen.  It quite comfortably serves two Majumdar brothers as long as there are ample side orders of snouts and tails

S

Very witty. Is this what would be a publishers joke?

I don't think it is Adam :rolleyes:

Them Majumdar boys are growing lads. :wink:

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Had my fourth meal at St John last night, with Tony and Nick, and I was reminded why I like this place.

It had been suggested that Saturday night would be less busy than weekdays, but by 8 or 8.30 the place was very full. Service was pleasant, helpful and timely throughout.

I started with smoked sprats and horseradish sauce. Just that, no frills, no bits of coloured veg to decorate the plate. This was a taste from my childhood, and it was perfect. I suppose it could be argued that all the restaurant does is buy the smoked sprats, make some horseradish sauce and stick it on a plate at £6 a time (I remember the debate about pea pods!!!) but that's fine with me.

I was tempted by the lamb special (but that was for three people) but I settled for another special of poached chicken and leek. The chicken was tender and moist, with a good texture, but overall I found this blander than I expected. I thought the leek would raise its flavour, but if anything it just blended into a mild, albeit pleasantly flavoured, monochromatic dish.

The dessert was a killer rhubarb crumble (brilliant) with custard (lovely taste but I prefer it barely falling off the spoon).

We had a bottle or more of Viognier white, followed by one or two bottles of house red. Pleasant drinking.

The discussion was lovely, the company pleasant, the atmosphere relaxed, and the food excellent. Yes, I reminded myself why I like St John so much :smile:

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I was refereing to Fergus Henderson's "Nose To Tail Eating:A kind of British Cooking". But I guess that would have been a little bit to witty eh?

I got it, Adam.

Did you ever see the episode of Bourdain's A Cook's Tour in which Fergus H (mad as a hatter and grinning like a Cheshire) appears?


"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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Jinmyo - as far as I am aware Bourdain's A Cook's Tour hasn't made it to UK TV yet, unless it is on one of those fancy satalite stations. Actually, what gives here? If St. John etc are on the show, why isn't on UK TV? :angry:

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Adam, there's also some weirdness in Edinborough. The fried Mars bars, haggis. They even fry a pickled egg.


"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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Jinmyo - as far as I am aware Bourdain's A Cook's Tour hasn't made it to UK TV yet, unless it is on one of those fancy satalite stations. Actually, what gives here? If St. John etc are on the show, why isn't on UK TV? :angry:

The answer from the horse's mouth (now slightly out of date) here.

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Adam, there's also some weirdness in Edinborough. The fried Mars bars, haggis. They even fry a pickled egg.

All fried products are as nothing in he face of the mighty Edinburgh Deep Fried Pizza. Think Frozen McCain's, dipped in batter and deep fried (batter keeps the topping on).

Andy thanks. I thought "Cheap" and "Fucks" may be involved.

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