Food and drink
This may sound slightly bonkers, but sometimes I think St John is the closest thing London has to an authentic Italian restaurant. Why? Because the kitchen ruthlessly takes fabulous fresh, local ingredients and cooks them very simply. The dishes are mostly British, but don’t come expecting a parade of historic recipes – there’s nothing fussy about the cooking and presentation is similarly unadorned. A starter of broccoli vinaigrette is just that: a big pile of broccoli with vinaigrette on it. Rarities worth trying in season include fresh, milky-tasting ‘wet’ walnuts and alexanders (a wild green vegetable, served with braised squid). When we have visitors from out of town I make a special trip here for a batch of eccles cakes which you can buy (along with the excellent bread and French wines) to take away.
Spartan yet jovial. You might marvel that they’ve recently extended the uncompromising un-decoration to a St John hotel.
Things get hectic at weekday lunchtimes and service can be slow.
Within a chop’s throw of historic Smithfield meat market; you could walk there from St Paul’s.
Three courses will cost at least £30 without drinks; if you’re enjoying premium ingredients like oysters and grouse, expect to spend £45 on food. You can eat more cheaply and lightly in the bar.
There's also St John Bread & Wine in Spitalfields, and the new hotel and restaurant just off Leicester Square - see website for details.
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