Thursday, February 3, 2011

St John (London, UK) – ♕♕♕

Michelin 1 Stars

  Most International foodies would have heard about Fergus Henderson through one way or another for his Nose to Tail dining approach philosophy.  The story goes that if we are slaughtering the animals for our consumption, then we should therefore respect their carcase and sacrifice of life and not create any more non environmentally safe food wastages during the process -  and by employing this socially responsible concept and traditional British cooking techniques, each part of the animal could potentially be turned into some scrumptious dish.  ON THEORY ANYWAY..   We have pre-booked this table a month ahead as it can become quite crowded at night, but I was a little disappointed at the lack of so called offal/innards items on their menu on the day, made worst by many executional errors and overly simple recipes of many dishes…  especially discovering as an afterthought back in HK that it is considered to be worthy of a Michelin Star status…

Quite a little too clinical by room design and their laboratory like uniforms,
than foreseeable..

Sourdough and Rye Bread, served cold as expected. 
But of very high quality in freshness (though mixed thoughts about cold bread in Winter)
~ 8/10

This Butter is very creamy and rich

A bottle of St. John’s Cabernet Syrah red,
from France’s Chateau Lascaux, Pic St Loup of Languedoc region ~ 7/10

Rabbit Offal & Radishes -
This dish mentioned radishes, but I can only find 1 type of French breakfast radish so it must have meant plural in terms of how many you get!  Unfortunately, this was the only 1 memorable dish, as things got progressively worst on all fronts ~ 8/10


Rabbit Heart


Deep Fried Tripes & Chips -
I found this dish ‘very disappointing’ to have come out from St John’s kitchen.. With the selective usage of only honeycomb tripe out of the four compartments of a full cow’s stomach, I don’t think this is really representative of the so-called Snout to Tail eating philosophy. If I wanted this type of tripe I could walk into any random wine bar or even pizzeria in Italy and Spain and feed myself silly with them. The fried tripes tasted good mind you, but were slightly too dark ~ 6/10

A little over battered and over-fried

A tomato based dipping sauce for the pretty good home-made chips,
possible triple-fried going by surface texture

Roast Bone Marrow & Parsley Salad,
capers and gently pickled onions and grey sea salt -
This was outright disappointing in execution, probably the worst roasted bone marrows I’ve ever eaten. You couldn’t begin to imagine how sad we were looking and prodding with the obviously under-baked marrows, which hasn’t even started to melt and develop its intense flavours.  There were also a lot of empty air pockets and bony bits inside each hollow out, meaning we had trouble extracting even enough marrows to topple up half a slice of toasted bruschetta loaf…  ~ 2/10

Little flavour, under-baked, hardly any marrow…
You must be kidding!  Even BLT HK makes a better version..

Peugeot S & P Grinders, in a British Restaurant ! -
Now I remember where I saw these this time, J
(but I like your metallic ones better!)

Roasted Middlewhite & Chard -
A specialty British pork and one of 3 most treasured breeds, sought after even from all the way in Japan, the Middle White is simply named after its size and supposedly the best tasting of the available pig breeds including Berkshire.  Unfortunately, despite Britain being famous for Roast Pork and St John even more famous for their Suckling Pig, this roasted Middlewhite was a disaster.  The meat arrived dried yet cold, with a lot of fat beneath the hard cold skin crackle. The pork itself was bland and tasteless, the whole thing doesn’t even have ANY flavours developed during its roasting ‘mallaird’ process.  There wasn’t even any interesting sauce to salvage this dish. For 24 Pounds, can I get something that tastes better than hospital food?   May be Chef Ferguson should visit and eat La Luna’s Roast Pork (Melbourne) to see what a good roast is like, and that’s only a neighbourhood corner steak house! ~ 3/10

Welsh Rarebit -
A traditional British styled grilled toast made with dark ale, mustard, cheddar and Worcestershire sauce, this was too under-toasted and a bit aggressive with its dowsing of sauce, which means it became completely soaked & soggy in the middle. The flavour was very good mind you, but the execution not so ~ 6/10


Eccles Cake & Lancashire Cheese -
A traditional food pairing to be eaten together according to the staff..
although occasionally you see Eccles Cake sold without the cheese ~ 6.5/10

Filled with currants.  The St John’s version has a slightly more flaky and light pastry case than the more normal commercial versions.


Espresso -
Using Union Coffee again!  This espresso was made from pre-grinded coffee already sitting in the doser and way under-dosed, my cup extracted in 7-8 seconds rather than around 20-30s, pulled too large in volume. My friend’s cup was even worst, I counted 4 seconds.  Everything that could go wrong WAS wrong, but surprisingly the photo might suggest its not that bad. Deceiving !  ~ 0/10

The outside Bakery and Bar area..


Price: GBP £45 Per Person
Score: ★★★☆☆

Opening Hours:
Mon – Sat:   Lunch 12:00 – 16:00pm,  Dinner 18:00 – 22:30pm
Sunday    :   Lunch 12:00 – 16:00pm,  Dinner 18:00 – 21:30pm

Address:  26 St. John Street London, EC1M 4AY  (Close to Farringdon Metro Station)
Ph: 020 7251 0848



  1. The bread and the salad were the best parts of the meal? That is so sad. And to think Anthony Bourdain and the likes gave this place much media coverage (and hype).

  2. I agree, that is sad. I bought his "Nose to Tail" cookbook and had been meaning to go there next time I was in London....though I speculate that the decline in quality control may be because Fergus Henderson might not be in full control of daily operations due to his (very unfortunate) illness.

    By the way, I don't give much stock to Michelin 1-star anymore. Not since they handed out 1 stars to several branches of the same chain in Hong Kong (Lei Garden, really do that many of their branches deserve full write-ups and separate stars?) and also to the Din Tai Fung (decent xiaolongbao and food but way overhyped and in no way deserving of a Michelin star). It cheapens the integrity of their reviewers and the star rating system.

    (OK, rant over!)

  3. @Beef No Guy: I haven't actually seen Bourdain's coverage of here, now I am curious what he had to say! *I have always wanted to catch up with his shows but never found time nor remembered! Anyway the Rabbits dish was great (Year of the Rabbit remember haha!), but the rest especially the Pork had my jaws dropped. Considering this meal costed us 90 Pounds too....

    @Marilu: Thanks didn't know Fergus is having an illness right now, may be that's one of the plausible reasons for its sudden decline in quality? Things happen sometimes :) Yes the Michelin is a bit unpredictable someties. Lei Garden is not bad, but some of the branches with stars are worst than others, let's not talk about Lei Bistro. So is Din Tai Fung, the CWB > TST easily over easily 10+ visits I've been to those, same applies to Tim Ho Wan MK > SSP.

    I think we sometimes over-estimate a 1 Star status, but I actually went to 2 x 1 Star restaurants in Europe which were way better as well in performance, as in WAY WAY WAY better... they could be a bit more consistent across the board definitely! :)

  4. St John's is much beloved in England but in 20 or so visits (it is near my office) I have never had a truly good meal there.

  5. @ Tom,

    I actually quite enjoy this style of eating mode. Look, I am not and it is unfair to compare Haute Cuisine directly with a more Casual but Chick dining place, which is more down to earth and accessible. In fact St John reminds me of Australia where almost all restaurants in town do basically the same 'approachable stuff with a twist' approach, which can be quirky or exciting depending on the day!

    My biggest gripe with that night was mainly execution related, but perhaps it was just an off night I guess as anything can happen and 5 meals at the same venue might all turn out to have slight variation. I will certainly not hesitate to return to here for a few more re-tries, plus from what the above person has said, may be Ferguson being of ill health might have exacerbated their underlying weakness in consistency, who knows! : )

  6. About the espresso:"the photo might suggest its not that bad" - I truly agree ! haha!



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