Lunch @ St.John, Smithfield

It’s Friday and we are having lunch at St. John’s Bar in Clerkenwell! Bella and I set off for the eatery around noon.

We must hurry!

St.John’s Bar was a very popular joint in Smithfield. Therefore, if you want to avoid disappointment, you must beat the crowd by arriving well early.

The place was getting busier by the minute…

Only if the bar area took a reservation instead of this “first comes, first served” business! I sighed and placed my belongings on the chairs around one empty table by the bakery.

St.John’s bakery. Behold those plump jam doughnuts!

By looking at the photo, I am thoroughly regretting about not bringing them home after the lunch.

Good old St.John…

A former smoke house on St.John Street was turned into a restaurant, named St.John in 1994. I can’t remember exactly when but I did visit the restaurant with one of my flat mates in the mid 90s. From the beginning, the eatery was the talk of the Londoners. And we were dying to find out about all the fuss we were reading in the papers and magazines.

Because the restaurant was situated right next to Smithfield Market – a famous wholesale meat market which was in business since the 10th century, the menu offered by their kitchen was an orgy of various bovine parts. I can’t recall what I ate but it was definitely a bit chewy and very weird.

Another things I remembered was their spartan-like atmosphere. The first word popped up in my head was “refectory”. Dining in there was like eating in a monastic refectory and being served by monks. Everything in there, including foods, was deliberately austere. Their whitewashed walls, their simple furniture, their rather harsh lightings, their plain white aprons worn by the waiters and their foods served intentionally in a “no-frills” manner, were all screaming at me ‘We are different! We are hip! We are the future!!’ Ever since that night, I have been a fan of St.John.

So where are our dining companions?

Yeah, where are they? We are supposed to meet in here at 12:30! I bought a glass of cider at the bar and called Hubbie’s mobile.

Shortly afterward Hubbie and our guest arrived and we consulted today’s menu written on the blackboard…

These followings were what we ordered.

Dandelion and roast shallot…

Devilled kidneys on toast…

Cheese and chutney sandwich…

Skate, fennel and green sauce…

All of them tasted absolutely perfect. The thing I love about St.John’s cooking is that the chef brings out the best flavour from each ingredient he/she uses. They might look plain and not very Instagram-friendly, but who will mind it if the foods taste great?

For dessert, we ordered those two pudding’s.

Ginger loaf and butterscotch sauce…

The loaf was very very gingerly.

And mince pie and jersey cream…

I didn’t taste it but Hubbie seemed to love it.

While Hubbie headed back to office by cab, Bella and I headed home on foot. ‘Isn’t it so cold, Bay-Bay?!’ I was shocked how bitterly cold the wind was. We shuffled our feet as fast as we could so we would get home quicker and the fast pace may help to make us warm…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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