It’s the insides that count.
It was my first time ever to London town visiting some old and very good friends, who I had not seen for a couple of years. Besides this long overdue reunion, I was also super excited to explore the city and its culinary secrets and one of our first ventures followed another friend’s recommendation to St. JOHN Restaurant close to Smithfield market.
Coming through the bar with enclosed bakery, the interior of the dining room reminded me of that of a slaughterhouse with white tiles covering the walls of the room all put into dim light and set with long tables covered with white paper cloths. Our host for the night was extremely accommodating, funny and knowledgeable on today’s dishes and made sure we were having a great night.
So off we started with a nice bottle of red and too many starters for the three of us. My friend who recommended St. JOHN made sure I understand the importance of having the Welsh Rarebit, a delightful version of a grilled cheese sandwich created with their own signature spread mixture – which they also sell in jars nowadays – drizzled sweetish with some Worcestershire sauce. Simple and absolutely brilliant. This was followed by the equally mind-blowing roast bone marrow with parsley salad and roasted bread, savory fatty sardines, and the browned crab open sandwich to lift our cholesterol levels to heaven.
Okay, my evening was already a win because of the starters but my excitement didn’t seem to quiet down one bit. For those of you, who don’t know, St. JOHN specializes into ‘nose to tail’ dining so, besides the fish, there were no meats on the menu tonight, it was all ovals and innards. M., therefore, chose the flatfish, which was kept light and natural in flavor but was clearly fresh and skillfully prepared. E. and I, on the other hand, went all in for fantastic tender ox heart with beets and creamy horseradish and my first go at lamb sweetbreads with beans and bacon. The latter had a distinct and particular taste and texture, which I had never experienced before, quite lamby but in a good way and in combination with the beans and bacon just outstanding. My favorite must have been the ox heart though as its pure muscle texture and deep flavors were just hard to beat.
Over the recent years, I have developed a strong preference for ‘nose to tail’ dining due to the endless possibilities, the broad palette of available flavors and the high skill level and creativity that is required to turn ovals into something new and delicious. Also because of that ST. JOHN has catapulted itself into my special book of favorite places and will be a must go to for every of my potential future visits to London. Thanks for a fabulous night, an outrageously good dining experience and the smile I left with that very night. Be sure I’ll be coming back. Cheers.
Get Your Grub On!
St. JOHN Restaurant
26 St. John Street
p: +44 20 7251 0848