Casual and comfort would be my words to describe St John Bread and Wine. Like walking into a local bakery, order a mixture of sharing platters, toss in some chunky sliced bread and you are there, ready to read a book or just let the mind settle. Dishes also arrive in a casual manner and stripped bare. Whole crab, boiled red with its claws ready to cut off my head comes with nothing but jar of mayo. Asparagus, not chopped or dissected, just long stalks with some hot butter on the side. It’s simple food, nothing fancy or pretentious.
St John Bread and Wine (SJBW) shared the same unfamiliar menu to its sister St John Restaurant (where the famous roast bone marrow and parsley salad is). What’s mutton, smoked sprats or Arbroath smokie hash? We had to ask a few questions and try not to sound stupid. Luckily, the staff couldn’t be more helpful, including a brief explanation of the sharing concept where everything comes when they are ready and are made for sharing.
The one page menu was short and laid out by the hour of the day. At 9am, enjoy a bacon sandwich with extra thick sliced bread or some comforting porridge. After 11am, cakes would be ready with that buttery bakery smell. For dinner, starters are served from 6pm and mains from 7pm.
Asparagus & hot butter
Whole grab & mayo
The fun of tearing a whole crab only made the sweet and fresh meat more delicious.
Foie gras & duck liver toast
Swaledale mutton, chicory and anchovy
Now that’s definitely rare, still bleeding with that raw meat squishy texture. The flavour was there, but a couple more minutes would’ve been better. Now I can tick off ‘eat raw lamb’ of my list.
St john’s desserts are unmissable, especially the freshly baked madeleines. If shop brought ones have been your only memory, these could be little revelations. I made some at home after the last St John visit, see recipe here.
Verdict - 4/5
Food (simple) - perfect for those casual occasions where you can’t be bothered to book and just want to eat something simple. If you’ve come for the infamous roast bone marrow with parsley salad, they only serve it at the St John Restaurant!
Service (busy) - the place was really packed by 8pm, quite noisy and difficult to get service. But booking is not a problem.
Cost (£30) - Two of us billed 60 with no wine.
94-96 Commercial Street, London
E1 6LZ, 020 3301 8069