Sunday, 11 November 2012

St John Hotel - Chinatown, London

St John Hotel
Last year we visited the iconic 'Nose to Tail' restaurant, St John in Smithfield, London. I'm not a fan of offal myself, but my husband loves it. However, I have to say that our meal at St John was one of the best we have ever had. I had pork with simple vegetables and parsley sauce. The desserts were also fantastic. When My husband wanted to go back, I didn't put up much of a protest!

I knew that Fergus Henderson and Trevor Gulliver had opened a new St John in Chinatown, complete with its own hotel. It was awarded a Michelin star in this year's guide, so I booked us in. This restaurant doesn't follow the usual starter, main, dessert format; rather they encourage you to pick around four smaller dishes to share. 

On the way down to London my husband excitedly looked through the day's menu, only to find a disclaimer at the bottom of the screen stating that St John Hotel was in administration. A little concerned, we decided to go anyway as there was nothing online to suggest that anything else had changed. Caterer Search published an article on 26th October explaining that the hotel had cost much more than anticipated, and opened way after it was scheduled to.

When we arrived there was the usual warm welcome you would expect from the Smithfield restaurant. Everything looked in order. The kitchen is open so I got to have a good nosy at what was going on, home made breads were piled high on shelves and blackboards were filled with specials and one off bottles of wine. 
St John HotelSt John Hotel
Our waiter explained how things worked, and made some excellent recommendations too! We picked the devilled pig's skin, roast bone marrow, snails with duck hearts and the bacon and beans. This is a true culinary tour of what the restaurant is all about. I had also made a mental note of the puddings...
St John Hotel
Now don't get all freaked out by the duck hearts. Yes, they look vile, but actually taste a little bit like fillet steak mixed with venison. I have eaten other hearts before, and quite frankly I cannot stomach them. These are much milder. They came with snails and some wonderfully chewy croutons in the best sauce I have tasted in ages. This bright green lovage sauce went down a treat with the artisan bread brought to the table. We were given more to mop up the sauce by our waiter...

The pig's skin was very much like a pork scratching, which was nice dipped in the runny yolks. I left my husband to the bone marrow. No thank you! The highlight for me was the bacon and beans. A fantastic piece of pork belly with crispy bits, served with St John's version of baked beans. If only Heinz did beans like these...
St John Hotel
After last year's pudding escapades at St John in Smithfield, I had high hopes. I picked the ginger loaf with butterscotch sauce, whilst I ordered my husband to have the custard tart! I could ramble on for at least twenty three pages about how good these desserts were. Mine was a sticky ginger cake with a sweet sauce served with thick ice cream. Not too sickly, this was a tour de force. Texture and taste were both bob on. One of my all time favourites. Forever. The custard tart was equally as sensational. The pastry was crisp and biscuit-like (no soggy bottoms here Mary...) whilst the custard filling was smooth and creamy with a generous portion of nutmeg on the top.

The best thing about St John Chinatown is that while it has a Michelin star, it is very much a laid back affair. We booked, but I am sure it is not necessary. Whilst we were there a lady came in for just a dessert and a cup of tea, another just for a coffee. It's that kind of place. They cater from everything from a single cuppa to a many-plated banquet. 

We're definitely going back here, perhaps next time for breakfast... 

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  1. wow that is really adventurous the restaurant looks fab although i think some of the courses i would feel i was doing some sort of bush tucker trail on

  2. Indeed, I am an adventurous person and I love also tasting different foods like this. The foods are really delicious, the rooms are very nice. Can you post more review about this review? Anyway, keep sharing!.

    hotel a venezia


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