St John

With its very unsuspecting facade and downplayed interior, St John has become one of my most memorable meals in London. We walk into a rustic atmosphere with decor at its most minimal and  imagine how the chef and owner one day decided to turn a small market warehouse into a place to eat. Today this place has achieved the status of a fantastically worthy restaurant without all the pretensions. The menu changes daily and St John's concept focuses on nose-to-tail eating. Here, they come up with great ways to appreciate the preparation and serving of an animal beyond the regular pork tenderloin or steak. Offal get a lot of attention here so if you're in for trying offal and innards, you're in for a delicious time here. Even if you're not so into offal, still give it a try-- who knows, you might leave as a convert?

Our server tells us the special of the day is lamb testicles. Can we get an order for that please? And is it alright to brag that I've eaten lamb testicles now?! The bite-sized pieces are battered and deep fried, with a side of pungent raw garlic dip. The texture is solid and smooth but not dense. There is no smell or any indication that the dish is in fact, lamb testicles. This is one of the reasons that make St John so great. They turn something that people are generally afraid of into something that they eventually learn to like.

The roasted bone marrow proves to be very, very good. We spread it on toast, sprinkle some sea salt over it, and garnish with parsley. Each small of toast with bone marrow is packed with richness.

Roasted bone marrow
No words can do justice to the crispy pig cheek and dandelion dish. I dreamt for days about the pig cheeks after our meal at St John. The pig cheeks have the pork crackling attached and the crackling is perfect and crisp while the combined meat and fat from the pig cheeks create a melt-in-the-mouth texture. Such contrasting textures of crispy pork crackling and melt-in-the-mouth pig cheeks...in one bite. The slight bitterness of the dandelion add character to the dish.

Crispy pig cheek and dandelion

Tripe served at Chinese, Vietnamese, and Japanese restaurants are usually on the chewy side with a crunch. Not at St John. The tripe here is the smoothest, most tender, and softest I have had. If anyone gets nervous at the thought of eating tripe and hasn't tried it yet, St John's braised tripe is an excellent introduction to one's palate. The braised dish is prepared with white beans and pieces of pork belly, contributing to the depth of the flavor of the braising liquid.

Braised tripe

Meals can be unforgettable or forgettable. At St John, it is the latter, very much so.

St John Bar and Restaurant
26 St John St
London EC1M 4AY

2013 One Michelin Star
2012 One Michelin Star

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