St.John Bar & Restaurant
Photographed by Luis Valdizon
Written by Sarah Vladizon
It’s the type of remarkable place that does not allow mobile phones in the dining room.
Almost a warehouse-style restaurant, awash in white, bringing a certain lightness, even on a typically darker, English day. Grand, but not intimidating. Cool, but not uninviting. If anything, one might have the desire to stay for a few hours, wrapped up in a delicious, leisurely lunch or supper. And if the beautiful aroma of freshly baked breads and cakes and other such things from the bakery section does not peak thoughts of hunger, the rich and hearty plates to follow a sit down surely will.
St. John has been famed for its ’Nose to Tail Eating’—which explores gratitude and appreciation for the animal in its entirety, and nurtures the belief that there is much more to enjoy than certain typically acclaimed aspects. The daily changing menu offers a nice element of surprise, though however it may change, one can always be assured a beautiful experience.
Crisp white tablecloths create a lovely medium between casual and formal dining, along with the simplicity of the dishes, creating a canvas for the array of aromas, textures, and colors—nothing is ornate or fussy; nothing is distracting. Yet everything to leave the kitchen is certainly elevated. Roast bone marrow on toast, halibut with aoli, Rabbit offal and dandelion—all are beautiful dishes that are thoughtfully prepared with true artistry, happily shy of anything superfluous and redundant. Pair them with a fine cocktail, beer or glass of wine. St.John is not only famed for its food, but also it’s proper cocktails. Dessert is a must (hence the aforementioned warning of a leisurely visit). From ginger loaf and madeleines to apple crumble cake and apple sorbet with polish vodka, it too will give you reason to plan a second trip. Soon.
One of the books, that sits in our dining area at home, is rather large, and is one part witty, and the other part, incredibly tactile in the tone of which delivers approachable cooking; cooking that is meant to be prepared and enjoyed at home amongst family and friends. Nothing is too daunting, and Henderson touches on numerous angles—from how to eat radishes at their peak to preparing pig’s cheek and tongue. The photography is eclectic, sometimes humorous, and sometimes artful and poetic, one can barely recognize the gastronomic aspect of it.