In music, everything is connected. Chuck Berry leads to the Rolling Stones who lead to the Sex Pistols who lead to Guns n Roses who ultimately probably lead to One Direction because eventually everything turns to shit. But there is a clear lineage, as there is with any creative art.
It’s a similar paradigm in the world of food.
In the world of food, St John is Chuck Berry. St John leads to Bread and Wine who lead to The Marksman, The Clove Club, and Lyle’s, who lead to some version of a bone marrow and sourdough dish landing on the menu at the pub down the road from you. It’s the reason why the term ‘nose-to-tail’ isn’t a euphemism for taking your cat to the vet’s, and why the term ‘British food’ means more than pie and mash.
Though St John is famous for its offal, you don’t need to eat kidneys to have a great meal here. Everything from a piece of roast meat to a soup or sandwich has had a ridiculous amount of care and excellent ingredients put into it. If you love the blood and guts style of food, you’ll love it, but you can also get equally incredible fish and game. Even their vegetarian options are solid.
St John’s main dining room is stripped back and borders on feeling austere, but it’s packed every night with people eating and laughing and drinking wine by the barrelful. If you don’t feel like a proper sit-down, the bar is also an excellent place to hang out, and one we actually prefer. The bar menu is short but very good, there’s excellent wine and they’ll also make you a great cocktail.
It’s the kind of restaurant that doesn’t need a reason for a visit other than because it exists as a monument to everything good about good, no-bullshit, British cooking. And while your parents will definitely love it, so will your mates and your other half and their parents too. And you definitely can’t say that about One Direction.
This legendary dish is synonymous with St. John itself, and with good reason. The roast marrow spread on toast is like the best butter you’ll ever eat, and the parsley salad complements it perfectly.
If you love offal, it doesn’t get any better than this. The devilled kidneys on toast and sweetbreads are also excellent when they’re on.
If you don’t fancy meat or offal, the fish at St. John is always superb. Case in point, this pan-roasted skate with croutons, which is as old school as it gets, in a good way.
Always round off a meal here with madeleines., which come just-warm from the oven. At £4.50 for half a dozen, they’re a proper bargain, too.