St John Bakery Room, London

3.26.2015

It's like Marmite, there's something about St John which you either love or hate. After 20 years, Fergus Henderson is still going strong with his "nose to tail" cooking. It's a meal that will get "eeew" or  "yummmm" from the guests.

Home in Ropewalk at Maltby Street Market, a collection of stalls resembling a mini Borough Market without the tourists pushing around. St John Bakery Room is an extension to the successful bakery on Druid Street, a proper, sit-in space to enjoy fantastic bread and wine. Now extending its hours to offer good things midweek as well as weekends. With a daily changing menu, walking into St John Bakery Room not knowing what to expect but one thing for sure, you will walk away with their legendary doughnuts in hand.

Welsh Rarebit

Purple Sprouting Broccoli Vinaigrette

Smoked Mackerel, Potato and Dill

Crispy Duck Leg, Green Beans and Shallots

Beef Mince on Dripping Toast

Devilled Kidneys on Toast

Cauliflower, Leeks and Chickpeas

The daily changing menu is written on the blackboard, just as you expect from Bread & Wine and the Smithfield bar. Started off with the signature Welsh Rarebit, this is more of a complicated version of cheese on toast, a cheesy sauce made with additional of beer or ale, Worcestershire sauce and etc. then poured onto slices of toasted bread. I can eat couple more slices if I wanted to but more dishes was coming on its way. Broccoli was refreshing. The colour of the skin on the mackerel was of a immensely shiny golden colour, not edible as it was ridiculously chewy but the fish was smoked perfectly and flaked away easily. Duck leg is cooked well with a crispy skin. The beef mince tasted very homely, seems like something that I can cook easily. Lamb kidneys was delicious and the bread soaking up all the juice was even better. The cauliflower was served raw, for me this is the first time eating raw cauliflower and I found the texture weird just something that I was not used to.

Bread Pudding and Butterscotch Sauce

Rhubarb Eton Mess

Rhubarb Jam Doughnut

Plume Syrah Grenache

To round of the meal, we had to have desserts. Bread pudding is not what I thought it was, initially I thought it was going to be a bread and butter pudding type of dessert. My mistake when I realised bread pudding was something else (still similar to bread and butter pudding with the addition of dried fruit, spices and etc). This tasted like a fruit cake which is something that I don't really like, inevitably I didn't really enjoy this dessert. On the other hand, rhubarb eton mess was decent. A touch of sweetness, not overly smothered with cream, the meringue was still firm and crunchy and the rhubarb brought life into it. The triumph had to go to the doughnut. No doubt about the doughnut from St John Bakery, it's on the game to compete for the best doughnuts in London. The dough is light and fluffy, the jam is not overly sweet and can still taste the fruit. Indeed we bought extra to take home and it still tasted fantastic the next day.

I cheekily had a glass of St John Rouge before all the guests arrived. I'm not too keen on the wine glass that they used, a small glass and the wine was filled near to the brim so it takes longer for the wine to aerate. For the party, we had a bottle of Plume Syrah Grenache. Both wine was average and for the price I cannot complain about it.

St John is definitely not to everyone's taste (beside their excellent bakery), whether is the food at the restaurant (it's one Michelin star) or at bread and wine or at the bakery room. Their "nose to tail" eating concept is great, finding unusual offals or unusual cut of meat or games on the daring menu. It's like Marmite, you either enjoy it or hate it. My first experience was not enjoyable, I was not used to the taste of game. Now my second visit, I'm slowly starting to understand and enjoying St John's style of food.

Score Rating: 3/5
Price: £10-20/head (50% soft launch, ~£60 for three people)

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https://www.stjohngroup.uk.com/maltby_street/

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