St. John @ St. John Street, London

For St. John, we took the Circle line to Farringdon. We exited the station bearing left and crossed over Turnmill Street on to Cowcross Street which took us to the junction of St. John Street. At the junction at Smithfield Market, we turned left and walk along St. John Street for around 50 yards or so… and finally, we saw St. John on the opposite side of the street. (yes, it really is that confusing, though not as far as it sounds.)

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Chef Fergus Henderson, extraordinary cook and rebel. This place looks like a butcher’s (actually an old smoke house) and is located adjacent to London’s most famous meat market, Smithfield. The whole surroundings make the restaurant seem rather incongruous. There is no palaver here, no pretension – what comes out of the kitchen is good for the stomach and the soul! If you are expecting dainty amuse bouches and cutesy little starters, then you have come to the wrong place.

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I remember studying in London at the peak of the mad-cow-disease saga that had everyone paranoid to the max, about what they ate. During that time in Britain,  where eating red meat was almost stigmatized and offal almost taboo, St John was leading the way in AGAINST – against eating meat! It is interesting to note that Chef Henderson was trained as an Architect. Seriously, this place looks like the cafeteria in my old Halls of Residence.  I am talking whitewashed walls, long rows of uncomfortable wooden tables and chairs and gray flooring.

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hearty bacon squash soup

We take one look at the menu and saw heavy, robust, masculine English food. The bacon squash soup photo speaks for itself. If you have an Asian stomach, you will do a double-take at this so called ‘starter’ because I think there is half a pig in there, in the form of bacon chunks. If you are use to the anorexic pigs we get in Malaysia, get ready to be wow-ed. The taste is awesome. the texture and taste of the pork should blast you into orbit.

DSC06920Henderson’s defining principle of nose-to-tail cooking has also found its recessionary time. “If you are going to kill an animal,” he reasons, “it seems only polite to use the whole thing.”

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Fine.. we now get the idea. We start to anticipate a really fine meal.

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Duck Hearts

Is becomes evident as we sit there, why this place is so cool. There is unconventional humor in eating such unmentionable cuts as heart, brains, marrow etc.. all of which have helped make St John the fashionable institution it is. My duck ox heart with celeriac was quite interesting. The  characteristically muscular, rubbery meat of the heart was delightful! Since I am a big fan of  internal organs, I had no complaints about this starter.  DSC06917Cold Mallard with beetroot salad

This cold salad was well, cold! I did not the mallard as it had not much of a flavour to it. The beetroot was interesting as it was crunchy and had a rougher texture about it than regular beetroot.

We also had the Roast Bone Marrow (no photo) . This is permanently on the ever changing menu so if you go, you must try this signature dish. The marrow is superb. As you can guess, the bones that stand up form your plate like the hulking stonehenge are huge, thick and  over-spilling with sweet, slick, oily marrow. This is served with a long lobster fork-like implement, necessary for the successful extraction of precious marrow.

DSC06921smoked game

Someone brought this to our table by mistake. I took a photo anyway.

DSC06923Mutton special

Then enter the Mutton special. I died and went to carnivore heaven. I had my reservations about the mutton being too gamy , but this was just superb. Soft, tender, moist. How do I find any more extravagant superlatives to describe this dish?

DSC06925Hake with croutons

The fish was average in taste but fresh enough. I liked the crunchy croutons and the massive slab of fish. St John has this knack of making even fish, look like an uncouth slab of meat.

DSC06927Grey Partridge

Wow! Finally, I actually get to eat that famous “partridge in a pear tree” that the song sings about and just before Christmas too. The meat was excellent, the taste superb, the texture like a young soft supple bird that had been roasted on the outside to perfection. Unfortunately, the meat was blood red near the bone (and I mean red blood plus translucent meat and blue veins – like uncooked chicken). When I asked the waiter at St John he said “This is how we eat it here”. Take it or leave it. OK, fine, I’ll take it but I’ll leave the blood on the side. Cocky huh?

DSC06938eccles cake and lancashire cheese

I was told that no other restaurant will serve you such a hearty dessert as the eccles cake. It was huge, solid and went great with the lush, soft and mellow cheese. The Eccles is an English classic. It is a puff pastry with currant stuffing.

DSC06942steamed treacle sponge and custard

The steamed treacle was sickly sweet and rich. We nearly died finishing this as we already had the eccles cake before hand. However, we comforted ourselves that we would soon be out in the cold, walking it off. All in all, I enjoyed my St. John experience very much. The food is really good. The service was average, our initial waitress was a little rude and cocky,  but as the restaurant filled, she was replaced by another waiter who was much better. As I am a big fan of offal and weird cuts of animals, I will be inclined to keep coming back here for some exciting Nose to Tail Eating.. The service will not deter me!

You can buy the “Nose to Tail Eating – A Kind of British Cooking: St. JOHN Cookbook” as it is on the menu. They also sell St. JOHN Gift Cards if you check with the waiter.

DSC06948Since we finished at around 2.30 pm and still had time to kill before out 10pm flight, we decided to go walk off that “animal and a half” residing inside our stomachs..

DSC06947.. by visiting the British Museum.

DSC06950Admission is FREE. The centre of the museum was redeveloped in 2001 to become the Great Court, surrounding the original Reading Room. I like the  modern roof that you see that lets in a lot of natural light.

DSC06951The British Museum is a museum of human history and culture and its collections, which number more than seven million objects are amongst the largest and most comprehensive in the world.  The collections originate from all continents, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its beginning to the present. The British Museum was established in 1753, largely based on the collections of the physician and scientist Sir Hans Sloane.

After exploring and walking around this place for another hour and a half, it was time to leave. The British Museum closes at approximately 4.30pm and we had a plane to catch. Thus concludes the Travel London Saga. It was great.. and I really did not want to go home, but I missed my husband and also eating Char Kwey Teow in some hawker center somewhere in KL. I also missed the heat. Hope you guys had fun reading about my trip. Drop me a line(via Contact on Main Menu) regarding any experience that I had, that you want clarified or more information about and I will gladly answer them if I can!

Happy Reading!

The End.

Add:
St John,
26 St John Street,
London
020 7251 0848;
website

Comments

  1. that was one heck long of a saga i tell ya, and then you have already got the next series lined up already rite?

  2. yum, i’ve never tried duck heart before… but why no ox testicles & penis? :D

  3. yeah, i agree. the front does look more like an old clinic than a restaurant. cool stuff.
    woah, cocky waiter ar? must ask if he wants to end up like the patridge or not. hehe.

  4. ooh. this is really food for the brave and gluttony. Definitely not something for the “refined” people! hahah…

  5. the English are sure big eaters-like the partridge in the pear tree.

  6. the bacon soup caught my attention…

  7. wow looks like a really nice meal, i love games so i’m salivating over here haha

  8. So nice to see all the pictures of the food!

  9. Oooooh you had me a Bacon Squash soup. I wet my pants just by looking at it… from the dripping drool! :P

    And why’s that partridge “kangkang” one?

  10. the mutton looks divine in those pinkish hues! duck heart is new to me- wonder how it tastes like..ooo, and the patridge! pear tree would look lonely this year…..

    • duck heart taste like kidney, but a difft texture. muscular too, but not as tough as kidney. and the partridge that fell out of the tree.. tsk tsk! became my meal:P

  11. Bacon squash soup: I want I want I want. I wonder if I can duplicate that here with pumpkin instead? I had a really good pumpkin soup in Beijing with sausage, beans and pasta squares. This was in an Italian restaurant lah, not Chinese. :P

  12. Duck hearts? *faints*
    (I wish I were less squemish when it comes to all the “dan lain-lain”animal parts… It’s very limiting!)

  13. Er…ok, so maybe we won’t be making a trip there after all. Too meaty for me – and uncooked fowl – ewwww.

  14. So deliciously tempting but…… ALAMAK – Cholesterol Catastrophe *!**#!#!!!

    Apple

  15. Duck hearts…. that’s interesting.
    bacon squash soup looks kind of delicious! maybe i should try to cook it by myself. hahaha

  16. It all looks so luxurious. How did I not think to pair bacon with squash in a soup!

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