Monday, 20 April 2009

Has Anyone Ever had a Bad Meal at St. John’s?

Tradition goes in our house that when it is your birthday, you can choose a restaurant to eat at. In the past this has included the likes of the River Café, Locando Locatelli, Theo Randall (ex Head chef of the River Café). Lina this year choose Comptoir Gascon, as she was yearning for their Cassolet and some good Foie Gras. I thought she was going to choose St. John’s as it is one of her favourite places to eat. But she surprised me.

We have eaten there on several occasions, the last being exactly a year ago, where I kinda mixed my birthday and us leaving the UK for a 6 month trip through Asia. (See Below). We had a blast that night, about 12 friends eating and drinking our way through their menu.

As I am now working as a chef, and the pay is lowsy, I was looking at some bargain lunch deals. The River Café has 3 courses for £24, Odettes has 2 courses for £12. But unfortunately we couldn’t do lunch…

So when it came round to my birthday, there really was only one choice. St. John’s it was….. A 9pm slot was booked, which gave us time to hit Vinoteca opposite for some pre dinner wine. If you’ve never visited Vinoteca either for just drinks or food, then GO…..

It is the place that does the kind of food I love to it. Simple food, well cooked, no fanciness on the plate, and all washed down with some fantastic wine.

Now, I could go into detail about how great their food is. Well it is, but I’m not. What I really love about St. John’s is the simplicity of it all. The dining room is white. The waiters wear white jackets. There are no works of art on the walls. Just clothes pegs. You are there for one thing and one thing only. The food.

Now, Fergus Henderson, as we know have championed the whole concept of “Nose to Tail Eating.” And we are eternally grateful for him for this, but I am not here to go on about that, or I would still be writing this next week.

What I most love about St John’s is when you read the menu and you read Roasted Marrow Bone and Parsley Salad, that is what you get. It’s pure simplicity, and I love it.

So this my 39th birthday. We shared a starter of the Roasted Bone Marrow and Parsley Salad, which comes with some toasted bread and salt for you to gorge on that yunkshus marrow. It fits well with the salt and parsley. A marriage made in food heaven.

I noticed through a visit, that Whole Foods are now selling bone marrow. Tempting.

For mains, Lina had some Chitterlings, which are pig intestines. These came with some fresh peas, onions and a great gravy.

I opted for one of their specials. Simply Old Spot Chop with Butter Beans. Guess what I got. Exactly that. This was a big throw back to the 70’s for me, as that was probably the last time I was offered butter beans. The pork chop was not served pink, as some restaurants in London like to do, but cooked through as I remember it so well.

For pudding we shared a strange mixture of poached rhubarb, ice cream and toasted brioche. Now I love rhubarb, I love ice cream, I adore brioche, but together it was a strange yet not unpleasing combination. It had been 2 years since my last rhubarb fix, as we missed the season last year. Rhubarb isn’t that big in South East Asia. Although it is indiginous to North East Asia. But somehow it worked but it didn’t. Odd.

I’m wondering, that before we leave London for pastures new, will we eat at St John’s ever again?

St John (Farringdon) on Urbanspoon