2024 European Food Crawl - London……..Lunch at Michelin 1* St. John, Smithfield

Supposed to be one of the most well known and iconic restaurants on our Food Crawl dining venue list. This Michelin 1*,‘ nose-to-tail ‘ eatery, belonging to the legendary English chef Fergus Henderson, sadly turned out to be our trip’s only culinary disappointment!

Made famous and put on the foodie map by Anthony Bourdain. He called this institution his ‘dream restaurant‘ in one of his ‘No Reservation‘ episodes, praising the ‘complete package‘ the restaurant has to offer. At that time, Henderson’s emblematic, simple and yet utterly delicious ‘ Roasted Bone Marrow with sea salt and Parsley Salad ‘ dish was just being unearthed by the culinary world……resulting in chefs all over trying to emulate it and putting similar renditions on their menus.

We are by no means pointing fingers at our ordered food and giving them a ‘ thumbs-down ‘. Some of our choices, at least components of them, indeed tasted pretty good. However, based on the restaurant’s reputation and modus operandi of ‘less is more‘ and using a maximum of only 3 - 4 ingredients/components per dish. It is therefore expected that due to this simple and straightforward approach, the top-notched ingredients will be treated lovingly and prepared perfectly with skill and care. Sadly this was not the case. Our grilled Ox-Heart mains, for example, was over-cooked, dry and tough and accompanied by a bland, one dimensional, uninspirational sauce/jus.

Accompanying side dishes and salads followed a similarly sad pattern and result. Identical to some Indian restaurants’ approach of using a generic ‘mother sauce‘ eir curry base. St John’s mirrors a similar mannerism with their dressing. During our visit, a monotonous Horse-radish/Sour cream base concoction was broadly applied and used. Be it for our Veal tongue salad, the Ox-heart side dish or the side complement to our roasted Pheasant main! Where is the creativity usually found in Michelin star establishments?

However, there were certain stand-out dishes worthy of mentioning. The deeply flavourful Beef Broth, with ingredients similar to the traditional Scotch broth, but using beef instead of lamb, was a definite winner. The well seasoned, juicy and moist Pheasant dish is another thumbs-up dish…… .possibly one of the best tasting poultry dishes I have recently come across! Lastly, the Blood Orange Eton Mess dessert was absolutely out-of-this-world delectable! The Pear and Almond cake was pretty fine too.

Our lady server was most friendly, helpful and attentive, adding a crucial positive element to our dining experience!

In conclusion, a fine example of….” You win some, You lose some! “


I’m surprised to see pheasant on a menu at this time of year, with the season running from I October to 1 February.

I’m always excited to see bone marrow, but I almost wish restaurants hadn’t made it so popular because it’s expensive now to buy at the meat counter!

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My nearby steakhouse (part of the London based Hawksmoor group) has a bone marrow starter. They mix it with meltingly soft onion and serve it loaded back into the bone, with sourdough toast alongside. It’s a delight.


There’s a divey place in Mumbai that does a long-cooked trotter and beef soup, with one of the add-ins being copious amounts of extracted bone marrow chunks. Just bliss.

In nyc it’s often served with caramelized onions and toast, which are a nice pairing – similar to what you described.

I had that bone marrow dish at Hawksmoor NYC branch last year. :yum: :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: :ok_hand: :+1: