In the autumn of 1994 Fergus Henderson and Trevor Gulliver opened up St. John that has become one of London’s most famous restaurants. The restaurant has caused a lot of different opinions with its style and for its cuisine and has almost become cult in the United Kingdom.
Everything is uncomplicated and straight on and ties from the financial district sit just next to the blue collars and all eat meat. St. John is a lot about meat and there is not much from an animal that has not been served at the restaurant. Duck heart is a typical ingredient you can expect, but the most famous is the roast bone marrow & parsley salad that is a must dish and of course also the restaurant’s signature dish. The course is anything but posh.
The roast bone marrow is nothing you should order in if you want to have a romantic evening or maybe not as well with someone you do not know that well unless you really do not care about what people think about your table manners. It does not look pretty when you use the lobster fork you have been given to winkle out the slimy marrow inside the bones on to the sourdough toast, on with some parsley salad as well and all of it into your mouth. Not pretty, indeed, but delicious, so delicious. You can easily have a whole dinner just with the bone marrow dish, just order in two of them at once.
Self-trained Chef Fergus Henderson became locally well-known when he opened up St. John in a converted smokehouse in Clerkenwell together with Trevor Gulliver. The dynamic duo became more and more successful over the years and today St. John is a brand and highly commercialised with wine shop, bakeries and a hotel. The champagne served is from a bottle labeled St. John, likewise some of the wine and the same with the bottled water so you are regularly reminded of what you can buy with the St. John label on. Luckily you can also choose something else of the 100 percent French wines from the wine list as well.
Several of the dishes tend to float around in a watery and tasteless transparent sauce, like the almost tasteless mussels, the cucumber & dill dish and that is not what to expect from top rated restaurant no matter how hyped and cool it might be. The flavours are not always what they should be and several dishes like the duck hearts, the beetroot & pickled walnut lack the balance that is so important for the best taste experience. Duck hearts can be a delicious ingredient, but you will not feel that due to the dominance of the beetroot.
St. John can really offer you a great evening and the British fare with some French touches is loved by many, but it can also be a severe disappointment with its consistency problems. We have still not had a full evening or lunch where everything has worked flawlessly and tasted perfect. It is a lot of ups and downs and you have to be prepared for that before you make a reservation at St. John.
Written by Andy