Vegetarians, read no further. Same goes for anyone who senses an unsettled stomach at the mere thought of chowing down on a plate of giblets. St. John’s philosophy concerns the meat, the whole meat and nothing but the meat. Restauranteur Fergus Henderson opened this establishment in 1994—set in a former smokehouse near Smithfield meat market—as London’s coolest place to fill your boots on a menu of ‘nose to tail’ delicacies. To those uninitiated amongst us, this type of dining refers to dishes utilising every part of the animal. Choose between roast bone marrow, blood cake and chitterlings—just a couple of items on the menu. For those of you who don’t want to go the whole hog (apologies for the terrible pun), we highly recommend the traditional British offerings of eccles cakes and cheeses.
At times, dining in St.John’s feels like taking part in a conceptual art show, not least because London art celebs like Gavin Turk and Sarah Lucas are among the regular clientele. It’s also supposedly popular with tweed-wearing exponents of faux rural living such as Madonna and Bryan Ferry, and as ‘nose to tail’ dining is a standard of thrifty rustic British cuisine, this is a glowing endorsement indeed. The restaurant itself is modern and stylish, with the super white walls you would normally expect to see in a trendy East London gallery, and polite and attentive service. St John’s is an adventure in cuisine, and one that must be tried should you find yourself within oinking distance of Smithfield’s market.