I’ve always enjoyed the atmosphere of St John at Smithfield, particularly the bar, and the general attitude of the staff. Today’s lunch was no exception.
The four of us had different takes on the menu. I like the fact that they work with some of the more interesting ingredients like bone marrow, tripe, and put them together with traditional elements like swede or sprout tops. Not that I’m ordering the tripe, mind you, but I like the idea. Another in the group searched long and hard for the least meaty, least offensive element – fair play. And the others seemed to head towards game birds.
I started off with the Roast Bone Marrow and Parsley Salad, which was to be plucked out of the bones and spread on toast in all its gelatinous wonder. Extremely tasty, and definitely not light eating. And then I followed that on with the Ox Tongue with swede. The ox tongue is boiled before being sliced and pan fried, and the crunchy bits were super, and went well with the slight twang of the swede mash. All of this was accompanied by the very drinkable 2002 Pomerol La Petite Eglise (£55 or so). And lunch for four ended up at around £190 including service.
Service was a bit on the slow side, but that was mostly down to the time it takes to prepare the bone marrow (15 mintues), and they might have told me that in advance. But the waitress (from Oregon) was a charmer and everyone enjoyed the chance to have a proper lunch.
So, how does St John Smithfield stack up?
Lunch at St John Smithfield
Lunch for 4 : £190
Food: 8.5 out of 10
Service: 7 out of 10
Atmosphere: 8 out of 10 – I think the industrial whitewash effect works really well, the room is good, and there are no mobile phones allowed.
Sexy Factor: 6 out of 10 – admittedly this was lunch time, so the room was full of bankers and lawyers, the bar is much better at night (although, well, still filled with bankers and lawyers).
Return?: Absolutely – can’t wait to organise an alcoholic lunch with suckling pig!