St John Restaurant, Smithfield, London – Review

There is a certain fascination I have with meat, and it’s not just making sure I have the best cuts of meat, I’m of the opinion that when you have meat, you should respect the meat enough to eat all the edible cuts, which is why I love the philosophy of the “Nose to Tail” eating of Fergus Henderson‘s St John Restaurant in Smithfield, London.

Quite a hip area

There’s a tale about this place for me, it started when Ms Buddha first found out that I actually like eating offal and weird cuts of meat (ears, tongues, genitals, etc.); instead of saying “that’s disgusting”, she bought me Henderson’s book “Nose to Tail Eating: A Kind of British Cooking” , and so began my fascination with this place.

We actually made our first visit here back in 2011, that time, I was silly enough to order the fish for the main while Ms Buddha enjoyed a very very very good looking pork belly, I had one bite and I still remember how perfect it was, both the meat quality and cooking skill. Since then, I’ve made it one of my priorities to come back. So come back we did!

The Pilgrimage

The restaurant was just as I’d remembered it, outside was a very crowded bar area, and being close to Christmas, it looked like a work party was happening. We entered the restaurant and the waitress was excellent – professional, personable and casual at the same time. I’ll be honest here and say that I did forget to take a photo of the menu.

For entree, Ms Buddha went with the pulled pork with sourdough and I went with of course the bone marrow. The pulled pork looked delicious, but my love for marrow cannot be deterred, and my love was not left unrequited – with a very light sprinkle of salt, the marrow complimented the toast perfectly by softening the toast ever so slightly.

Marrow with toast
Bone Marrow
Pulled pork with beet
Pulled Pork

Next was the main, and I was a bit disappointed that there wasn’t odd cuts or belly this time, so instead I went for the Pork Loin with lentils while Ms Buddha went with the special of the day which was a pigeon. It’s sad to say this, but Ms Buddha won the food selection once again, the pigeon was cooked to perfection (just that slightly pink) and the gamey taste that people love about pigeon meat came through perfectly.

The pork loin was also excellent, and the lentils complimented the dish very well, although once again, I liked Ms Buddha’s dish more – she actually said it was one of the best pigeon she’s had.

Ms Buddha wins again with the Pigeon
Pork with Lentils
Pork loin with lentils – excellent

To cap off the dinner, we were offered desserts, and without a moments hesitation, Ms Buddha went with the Pudding; whilst I went with Meringue with pear – both were delicious and the pear actually surprised me in how light and sweet it was.

Eaton mess
Meringue with Pear
Pudding – Ms Buddha’s weakness

Frankly, it is hard to be disappointed when coming to St John, the service was great, the food always simple yet outstanding – and you always leave happy.

We made an effort to “walk off” the food by taking a short stroll back to the hotel which was just 30mins away, on the way, we saw what looked like a bunch of people intent on starting Santa Con early.

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