If David Byrne were to eat at St. John I’m pretty sure he would change the lyrics of his song to “Heaven is a place where nothing ever happens, except you eat unbelievable meat dishes at a Fergus Henderson restaurant”. There is no place I would rather eat, period. I have a serious interest in what goes into my stomach but too often that interest puts me in stuffy places with pretentious people. I resent the snobbery that surrounds food culture but recognize that I occasionally must be a part of it if I want to eat some of the best food in the world.Which I do. So I grit my teeth and throw on a suit. I give my wine long, penetrating stares and I say things like “structured” and “layered”. As a result, many great meals come with a side of shame and pride swallowing. Not at St John. This is world class food in an environment where licking the insides of a marrow bone for the last drips of oil would be welcomed not pooh-poohed.
Though the meal was flawless, I do have two regrets. First, this is the second time I’ve been and I still have not managed to gather enough people to get a roast pig. I can’t endure this much longer. I will go with strangers, I don’t care. If you’re out there wondering who in this crazy world will take you to St John so you can gnaw the fat off a whole pig’s belly, it’s me. I won’t pay for your airfare, but room and board is negotiable. Second, they did not have the roast bone marrow with parsley salad on the menu the night we went. So many variations of this dish can be found across the states, several in Boston as well, but there’s nothing like the original. I had it on my first visit to St John but was seriously bummed as I scanned the menu and saw nary a bone. I managed to pull myself together once the first dish arrived, but a part of me will never forget.
- potted pork
Though we had this earlier at Bread and Wine we had to have some more.
- cauliflower, leeks, and butterbeans
One does want a hint of vegetable. There’s a recipe for this in the St John cookbook and it’s very easy to make. It goes great as a light compliment to a fatty piece of meat.
- globe artichoke, vinaigrette
How do you make this taste good? With a kick ass vinaigrette
- welsh rarebit
Melted cheese mixed with an assortment of other flavors (e.. mustard, worcestershire sauce, paprika) over toast. This is why you need the cauliflower and artichoke – it makes you feel relatively better about inhaling this mound of melted cheese. Then came the meat: lamb, snail and sausage, pigeon, and ox heart. The dishes have no more than 3 or 4 ingredients on the plate, but each one is intense and the combination is perfect. But “simple” is the wrong way to describe the dish since so much goes into the preparation. Cooking a dish from the St John cookbook requires days if not weeks forethought.
- roast lamb, green bean, anchovy
- snail, sausage, chickpeas
- pigeon, peas and little gem
- ox heart and chips
The ox heart was the best dish of the night. Heart is so tender and flavorful. It’s what you wish steak tasted like.
- side of potatoes and greens
- peach cobbler
Though known for the meat, the desserts are out of this world good. It’s as if a team of grandmothers have been indentured in the kitchen to churn out the fruits of their accrued pastry wisdom.