Friday 30 December 2011

St John Hotel Bar and Restaurant: as good as the original?

I love everything about the original St John's.  The idea of using all the parts of an animal to create wonderfully tasty dishes really chimes with me in these days of fiscal and environmental uncertainty.  With that in mind, the restaurant at the St John Hotel has a lot to live up to.

Tucked in behind Leicester Square on Leicester Street, Fergus Henderson has opened a small boutique hotel with bar on the first floor and restaurant at ground level.  The restaurant is a reasonably small room with open kitchen to the rear and, like St John's at Smithfields, is painted all white - a nice but utilitarian design.

The daily menu leans less heavily on all things offal and has a real focus on fish (which LJC and I both decided to ignore almost completely save for the roe in my starter).

While the potted goose with pickled prunes looked good, I settled on deviled pigs' skin (crackling to you and I) and smoked haddock roe with a sprinkle of paprika.  The skin and the roe worked surprisingly well together - a fantastic dish.  Even better however was LJC's starter of tender pig's cheek, snails, lardon soaked croutons and sorrel juice.  Every mouthful of this dish was an absolute joy!

For main course we decided to share the beef and kidney pie along with some potatoes and brussel tops.  The pie was gigantic and could easily have fed three or even four, needless to say by the end there was nothing left! Deliciously tender slow cooked brisket in a thick gravy was topped with a suet crust (crispy on the outside, just slightly soggy (and I mean that in a good way) with all the wonderful juices from the meat on the inside). 

The brussel tops were also particularly nice - cooked in butter with just enough crunch left.

St John Hotel has a lot to live up to but if keeps on producing food of this calibre, maybe one day it will be renowned in its own right rather than simply as the follow up to St John's.  An excellent meal.

P.S. A special mention should go to the wonderful restaurant manager who managed to sneak us a table despite our lack of reservation - thanks!

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