St John Restaurant. What can I say? Well there is definitely something to be said about having stellar expectations, looking forward to a meal at a reputedly fantabulous restaurant, and having my little heart shattered from disappointment.
Expectation, coupled with the fact that I’d just experienced the insufferable uselessness of the British travel system (given that two fluffs of snowflakes caused some major flight disruptions to and from Luxembourg where I’d just spent three nights with very little sleep, and believe me, I is precious with my sleep), resulted in me being crazy excited about my meal at St John last night.
Because food does make everything better.
BUT. Disappointment plus.
I’m not really sure what exactly I was expecting, and I didn’t even mind that the smoked eel was no longer on the menu (a dish which culinary friends have said changed their lives), because there seemed to be plenty of other deliciousness on the menu.
I think it was just that everything was so bland. Like, aside from the funkquar ingredients, I could probably have made this stuff at home (ok probably not, but y’know, it didn’t taste supercolourfragalistically amazing).
So for starters I ordered the stupendously famous roasted bone marrow – chef Fergus Henderson being renowned for his “nose to tail” eating, which in other words means eating every single part of the animal. This was probably the only awesome dish of the evening and I revelled in digging and poking out the marrow with my little lobster fork.
The marrow was silky soft and fat laden, the meaty aromas perfectly accompanied by a scattering of sea salts and eaten with a slice of toast. I’m not sure what part of the animal they came from (don’t say the bone, I will bite you), but the dark marrow was so much more delicious than the light… not that I’m racist or anything.
Panu ordered the hare broth, which we expected to at least have some semblance of meat (because hare is rabbit, right? Or am I totally confused?) but it was pretty much looked like ye olde vegetable soup, and tasted much like it too.
Mains were also pretty much meh but Panu’s was at least interesting. He ordered the teal with braised savoy cabbage. What’s a teal, you ask? Very good question. I asked wiki before we went to St John and it said that teal is something of a small duck.
Well, we love duck, so teal should be good right?
Right. Kind of. The teal came out looking like an oversized quail, and is a very very red meated little thing. “Red meated”. Totally the technical term. But not only was the little teal red meated, it was also amazingly gamey and get this: the whole thing, from breast to little wing to little thigh, it all tasted like a pungent piece of liver.
And I like liver! But like liver on steroids, all rolled up into a cute little bird. How weird is that?!
My main was the halibut with leek and tartare sauce. Totally and utterly ordinary (and definitely something I can make at home) so I won’t even waste your time discussing it.
What I will say though is that the tartare sauce was more like a hot mustard sauce, which I’m not a huge fan of. But that wasn’t specified on the menu and urgh I hate places that aren’t clear with what’s in your meal.
We also ordered a serve of sprout tops on the side, which was very yummy, not the least because it was laced with about three gallons of butter. Yum.
Dessert! Finally! A great way to end every ordinary meal. So I very rarely have anything mean to say about sweet things and well, I don’t have anything mean to say here.
Apple crumble and vanilla ice cream tasted like what it ought to taste like (which is a great start) and the rhubarb with meringue and cream came out like a pavlova which we all know I love so easy wins there.
In fact, rhubarb is something that I never used to like but has definitely grown on me in the last year… I now sometimes even prefer rhubarb tartness over say strawberry sweetness.
Am I getting old?!
So there you go. That’s me and St John in a nutshell.
Why, why does everyone love it so? What am I missing? I mean, just check out all these love-ups:
Surely it’s not just me who thinks St John is just…. meh. Or maybe it is just me, me and my broken heart.
St John Restaurant
26 St John St
London, EC1M 4AY
0207 251 0848