I raved quite a bit about St John restaurant the first time I was there, and so it’s no surprise that we’re back for round two. I was not going to pass up the opportunity to try the signature starter of Roasted Bone Marrow with Parsley Salad this time.
It lived up to the hype – well some of it anyway. The bones came standing proudly upright on the plate, with a little side of parsley salad (which I loved!), spoonful of organic sea salt and crisp, toasted bread on the side. Digging into the bones for the marrow itself is endearingly involving, which makes it a lot more fun. First you dig, then spread the precious bit of marrow on the bread, sprinkle with some salt and top with the salad. Dip, spread, sprinkle, top…and repeat. I enjoyed it thoroughly, but to be honest, there wasn’t much of a wow factor when it came to the taste. I expected the marrow to have a richer, creamier, more earthy flavour, but without the salt and the tangy parsley salad, it was just a tad bland and rather oily. Having said that, I would go back for more if I have the chance – it was the melding of overall flavours and textures that won me over.
My lunch companions started off the meal with Jellied ham and potatoes, and Snails, white beans and garlic. Can’t comment on these as I was focused on my bone marrow and didn’t try either of them.
For mains, I had Braised Rabbit, Turnip and Wild Garlic. Two tender rabbit legs, a mush of tasty, braised turnips and two bonus chunks of meaty bacon (I didn’t quite remember there being wild garlic though). The gravy (albeit on the thin side) was very. very tasty and full flavoured. Although it was a good, hearty dish – it’s not mind-blowing as I had set myself up to expect. Then again, I believe my second visit to St John was accompanied with more discernment as compared to the romantic notion of experiencing the head to tail dining concept the first time round.
The other mains were Roast Middlewhite, Dandelion and Roast Shallots and Roast Suckling Kid with Celeriac. Once again, good meals but not fabulous. It was my first time trying dandelion though – crisp, shards of dandelion stems which tasted rather non-descript, but the sharpness of the dressing made for a good texture and balance for the tender slab of middlewhite.
Dessert was the star of the show. The anticipation for dessert was met with a ten out of ten level of satisfaction. This time we shared a dozen, fresh made to order madeleines. Like I mentioned before, the madeleines were probably nothing out of the ordinary, but having them fresh baked, with crisp warm edges and accompanied by a fragrant cup of tea…priceless. It was a sensational finish to a rather ordinary meal…and because of that, I’d still give this visit to St John a thumb up. Just one thumb though.
St. JOHN Bar & Restaurant Smithfield
26 St John Street