St John London Restaurant Review

St John London Restaurant Review


St John Smithfield in London specializes in nose-to-tail meals and quintessentially British dishes. That might be off-putting for some, but for adventurous and curious eaters, it's worth trying. The restaurant has had one Michelin star since 2009.

St John Location, Hours, and Reservations

St John Smithfield is the original location, located at 26 St. John Street, a 3 minute walk from the Farringdon Tube Station, served by the Circle Line, Elizabeth Line, Hammersmith Line, Metropolitan Line, and Thameslink. The restaurant is open for lunch Monday-Saturday 12 noon-3pm and Sunday 12 noon-4pm, with supper served 6-10:30pm Monday-Saturday (Sunday closed). Reservations are taken online for a minimum of two diners, with the last lunch seating at 2:45pm.


St John Menu and Food

Here's the lunch menu from my visit:

St John Smithfield Menu
St John Smithfield Dessert Menu


The restaurant is on the right up a few stairs, off an airy space flanked by the bar on the left and the bakery. The buildings were apparently an old smoke house, and when the restaurant first opened in 1994, the area wasn't the greatest. The all-white decor is spartan, keeping the focus squarely on the food. Even at 2:45pm when I arrived, it was fairly busy with a number of tables finishing their lunches.

St John Smithfield London Dining Room


Since it was a warm day, I was pleased to be brought a pitcher of cold water (it was full when brought, the picture taken after I'd drunk half of it) along with fresh bread and butter.

Ice Water, St John Smithfield London
Bread and Butter, St John Smithfield London


My server gently pointed out that my order was quite toast heavy, between the bone marrow and Welsh Rarebit, so I added on a green salad.

The Bone Marrow was first to come out, since I'd never ordered it before, I was instructed to use the implement on the right to dig out the marrow and put it on the toast, then top with the accompanying parsley and pepper and salt to taste. It was a little disappointing, to be honest, not because of the preparation (I'm sure it was prepared very well) but I'd heard so many raves about this dish that my expectations were too high. I'm glad I tried it, but I'm just not a bone marrow person.

Roast Bone Marrow and Parsley Salad, St John Smithfield London


The Welsh Rarebit and Green Salad arrived at the same time. The Welsh Rarebit is quintessential comfort food: sharp cheddar mixed with mustard, beer, Worcestershire sauce and either egg or butter and grilled. I liked it better than the bone marrow, but if I was to make it at home I'd want to use a whole grain pain au levain or similar rather than the traditional white bread that was used.

Welsh Rarebit, St John Smithfield London


The salad was tasty, although overdressed for my taste; if I was to order it again, I'd ask for dressing on the side.

Green Salad, St John Smithfield London


By far the star of the meal was dessert: Date Loaf, which normally comes with butterscotch sauce. Since I don't care for butterscotch, I asked if it could come with the dark chocolate sauce that is usually used for the profiteroles, and the Bakery accommodated me. Homemade malt ice cream was the crowning glory. I loved that the cake was so moist from the dates, and that the chocolate sauce clearly had excellent quality dark chocolate in it and wasn't too sweet.

Date Loaf with Malt Ice Cream and Chocolate Sauce, St John Smithfield London


The Verdict

I'd heard great things about the bone marrow and Welsh Rarebit, but my favorite dish by far at St John was dessert: the date loaf with chocolate sauce (my request) and malt ice cream. For anyone who enjoys dates and dessert, I recommend making a special trip at least for this alone, and the bar menu offers an easy way to try some of the starters without committing to a lunch or dinner reservation.

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