LDNReview

photo credit: Rob Greig

St. John image
9.4

St. John

British

ClerkenwellFarringdon

$$$$Perfect For:BirthdaysBusiness MealsCatching Up With MatesClassic EstablishmentDate NightDinner with the ParentsEating At The BarImpressing Out of TownersLunchPrivate Dining

Included In

Ask someone what they did last weekend and you’re usually met with a list of this and that. Sometimes, though, there are answers that don’t require any elaboration. Things that are entire days and nights unto themselves. Like a family meal or The Sopranos. A special type of restaurant can be like this as well. The kind where the name is the only thing you need to say. 

What did you do yesterday? St. John.

St. John is an all-day, all-night, and all-seasons British restaurant. Not because it’s open 24 hours. But because once you’re in this Clerkenwell sanctuary, it’s all you’re doing. More importantly, it’s all you’ll be capable of doing. Pheasant and trotter pie isn’t exactly get-up-and-go fuel, after all. Especially when it’s chased with a couple of black velvets.

St. John image

photo credit: Giulia Verdinelli

St. John image

photo credit: Karolina Wiercigroch

St. John image

photo credit: Rob Greig

St. John image

photo credit: Giulia Verdinelli

St. John image
St. John image
St. John image
St. John image

Once here, you have options. Whet your whistle in the bustling and wonderfully 5G-less bar and bakery? Or hunker down in the all-white dining room? Both are heavenly—in aesthetic, in feeling, in the fact that everyone hopes this is what the afterlife is like. The smell of just-baked bread and doughnuts while you sink a pint? Lord, just take us now. Both spaces are equally intent on filling you with all manner of elegant British cooking and, like whatever comes next for everyone, once you’re in St. John, it’s impossible to leave.

Of all London’s restaurants this is the one most often referred to as an institution. ‘Nose to tail’ cooking gets bandied around a lot these days, but this place was the first to do it. People come from all over the world to sample its oozing roast bone marrow on toast or pre-order a whole suckling pig. On weekdays you’ll find regulars, as well as founders Fergus Henderson and Trevor Gulliver, using the quasi-holy bar area as a place for peace, quiet, and soothing Welsh rarebit doused in Worcestershire sauce.

St. John image

photo credit: Karolina Wiercigroch

The food, offal and all, will not be to everyone's taste. But St. John doesn’t care and nor should it. This is a restaurant for the ages. Cocktails are made from midday sharp and a plate of freshly baked madeleines will lift anyone’s soul. It’s as much a fixture of London as Big Ben or Buckingham Palace and, when the plan is St. John, it needs no further explanation at all.

Food Rundown

St. John image

photo credit: Karolina Wiercigroch

Terrine

This slab is made up of white, pink, and brown bits. It’s every bit of meat and it’s every bit fantastic.
St. John image

photo credit: Karolina Wiercigroch

Brown Crab On Toast

It sounds like an interpretative dance piece or a yoga pose, but it’s much more straightforward than that. This is simply extremely tasty crab on toast.
St. John image

photo credit: Rob Greig

Roast Bone Marrow, Sourdough, And Parsley Salad

It may look a bit Fred Flintstone but the taste of this marrow on toast with a bit of salt and salad isn’t prehistoric in the slightest.

Dandelion And Roast Shallots

Contrary to what you may be thinking, you can be vegetarian at St. John. These vinegary greens (not flowers) with caramelised shallots are excellent.

Ox Tongue, Beetroot, And Horseradish

Meat is what you come here for mostly, but offal shouldn’t be optional. This thinly sliced ox tongue is a great starter point if anyone is a bit funny about it.
St. John image

photo credit: Karolina Wiercigroch

Kid Offal, Turnips, Anchovy

Despite the name, this is one of the most grown-up plates of food on offer. There’s liver, heart, and some bits we’re not entirely sure of. They taste good though.
St. John image

photo credit: Sam A Harris

Pheasant And Trotter Pie

A monstrously brilliant creation, complete with a piece of bone marrow stuck in the middle. The pies here are supposedly for two, but it’s definitely more like four. However many there are of you, this is a must.
St. John image

photo credit: Rob Greig

Liver, Bacon, And Mash

This can also come with smoked eel. Or sweetbreads. Either way it’s great.

Halibut, Little Gem, Aioli

There are variations of this depending on what fish is on, but the combination is absolutely delicious. Not to be missed.
St. John image

photo credit: Rob Greig

Madeleines

St. John’s pièce de résistance. These are baked to order and make us nostalgic for the French childhood we never had. Once you smell and taste these beauties, you’ll know what we mean.

Bread Pudding And Butterscotch Sauce

Sometimes it’s bread pudding. Sometimes it’s ginger loaf. The point is you’ll be wiping up that butterscotch sauce with madeleines, fingers, anything you can find.

Included In

FOOD RUNDOWN

Suggested Reading

The Best Restaurants For British Food In London image

The Best Restaurants For British Food In London

Bone marrow, baked beans, and bowls of sponge pudding—this is where to eat the finest British food in London.

A smoked eel sandwich from Quo Vadis.

Harrumphing British establishments, Cantonese canteens, a trailblazing ocakbaşı, and lots more.

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Meet our 25 highest-rated restaurants.

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