It probably wouldn’t occur to you that popping into your local Michelin starred restaurant for a pint and a bite to eat is both possible and affordable; but at St John – the home of nose to tail eating – it is. Everything about St John appeals to my tastes from the whitewashed simplicity of the bar and dining room, the stripped down unpretentious service to the menu on the plate and behind the bar.
Take a seat in the restaurant for a 3 course meal with wine and yes you’ll pay the prices that you’d expect for such a feed – and not begrudge a penny – but sit in the bar with a pint of Redemption, Black Sheep or Meantime and you can enjoy a starter or two that makes for the most glorious bar menu you’d ever find. For between £7 and £10 you find yourself with an ever changing choice which may include rarebit, octopus, lamb tongue, brawn, sweetbreads – as I said this is nose to tail. A favourite never failing to satisfy is roast bone marrow – the hot bones served with a parsley salad and toast – you scoop the marrow and spread across the toast. I’m taken back to early drinking memories with my Dad when the landlady would bring out plates of bread and dripping. Yes, this is somewhat more refined but plays to that same appetite for more than just fine cuts. The plate then as now would be eagerly cleared.
As Sunday afternoon stops go they don’t get much better; unless of course they’re finished off with a freshly baked bag of Madeleine and a wander through the streets of Clerkenwell.
St. John Bar and Restaurant, 26 St. John Street, EC1M 4AY