Review of 'St. John'

This is a fantastic restaurant serving traditionally British dishes with a modern twist and fresh ingredient (sourced locally, as much as possible). Located just a stones throw from Smithfields market (around the corner from Farringdon tube station) it does not local all that promising from the street but going through the door on the right leads into the first floor dining room (the door on the left leads through a small corridor and the bar with more informal dining on the main floor). The room is quite basic with an almost completely white interior with old black warehouse lighting hanging from the ceiling. The service is first class but the price of the food definitely is not. The bread is fresh and very good, weighty fare of great variety (with loaves available from the main floor for take-away). The menu generally changes on a daily basis but is renowned for it's serving of “snout to tail” cuisine. I began with the recommended beef marrow “salad” which was very tasty as I scooped out the marrow and placed it on the toast provided along with “wet salt” and a light green salad of Parsley and capers – Very tasty (and greasy) but a bit messy. Other starters included various shellfish (all fresh this day) as well a fois gras and other items all equally tempting. For my main I enjoyed one of the specials of the day consisting of fresh wild pigeon served with broad beans (cooked in the pigeon juices). I was “warned” by the waitress that the pigeon would be served rare but, this is the way pigeon SHOULD be served – Exactly right to bring out the wonderful woodiness of the meat (he said as he spit out the occasional bit of shot). Other mains consist of tempting sweetbreads, peas and bacon, roast beef, rabbit chicken and others. I was surprised to find that non-meat eaters are actually very well catered for with copious vegetables and fish on offer (for those that even shun fish there is at least one option for each course) – surely not necessary but refreshing to see. Dessert was another special of the day – Strawberry pavlova which I could not resist as they are still in season (and were even English). Very nice though the strawberries were not as sweat as I would have liked though the sugar in the merranges made up for that by quite some margin. Other desert options include various cheesecakes and other baked and pastry items which all look tremendous. Though I do not drink the wine list was impressive offering options for every budget (top price being 70 pounds for a bottle). I stuck to the fresh, and in no way sweet, hand-squeezed lemonade. The total bill was a bit more than I expected but did not induce a heart-attack (service is not included in the end bill). A wonderful, relaxing experience in an enjoyable and lively environment. Though I was not there during peak dinner hours I can imagine the wood floors and stark walls will mean the room gets quite noisy with many people. I will be back to work my way through the rest of the menu…perhaps the sweetbreads…

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2006-07-08

Cuisine: American/British

Address: 26 St. John Street, London EC1M 4AY

Public Transport: TUBE Farringdon

Location: London (England) - Farringdon



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Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7251 0848