Sunday, 16 August 2009
St. John Bread and Wine
No Victoria Line, again. Our Richmond Park picnic plan was scuppered, so we caught the overland train to Liverpool St. instead. It's taken me 7 years of living in London to finally cross St. John Bread and Wine's threshold. An offshoot of Fergus Henderson's St. John, in Clerkenwell, there is seriously no better place in London to have a relaxed weekend lunch. After a stroll around Spitalfields, and before embarking on the mayhem of Brick Lane, we wandered in. The bright airy space, not unlike St. John with its stark bare walls and utilitarian furniture, was welcoming, as were the staff. No sooner had we sat down and a leaning tower of bread arrived, with a jug of iced water. The menu is a pick of the best late British summer has to offer, in combinations both traditional and inspired: Broad bean and lovage soup, Peas and ticklemore, Lentils and girolles, Smoked sprats and horseradish ... all tender interpretations of British food.The Meantime Pilsner, brewed locally in Greenwich, was refreshing and stood up well to the strong-flavoured dishes. J chose Foie gras and duck liver toast, with a Butterleaf salad, and I went for Tomatoes and wild marjoram, and Snails, bacon and cauliflower. You could smell the confidence in all four dishes. Which restaurants dare serve a single variety of salad leaf, dressed in a plain oil and vinegar emulsion? Only those whose relationship with food is respectful and instinctive enough that they know when to leave well-sourced ingredients well alone.
Nothing shocked, but every mouthful was a delight. To be safe, book ahead, but if you're languishing in London come August-time, you're pretty sure to get a walk-in spot any time of day (and might just get a little celeb-spotting while you're at it: Katie Grand and Giles Deacon were in on our visit). Oh yes, prices. All the dishes pictured were £5-6, and a satisfying lunch with beer brought the bill to £30. Good value, needless to say!
Posted by Laura Nickoll