In today’s fickle restaurant world, where fads come and go, few can lay claim to being truly iconic – but Fergus Henderson and Trevor Gulliver’s St John is one that can.
For almost three decades Henderson’s nose-to-tail approach to cooking has helped raise the profile of British food across the world, as well as teach a legion of chefs about how to respect the whole animal and reduce food waste – themes that are even more pressing today than they were when St John opened in 1994. And he’s done it with a rather simple but focused outlook that doesn’t preach but merely leads by example.
To eat at St John – to tuck into a middle white chop with trotter and prune and suck the roasted bone marrow that accompanies the parsley salad – is a rite of passage (for meat eaters at least), as it is to end with a plate of its Eccles cake and Lancashire cheese. Few restaurants in this country have a menu so inviting, where you can feel the heart and soul of the place in every dish.
Like its cooking, the stark, stripped-back dining room doesn’t seem to have aged – the whitewashed bricks were a feature long before exposed brickwork was de rigueur – and the room continues to ooze a conviviality most restaurateurs would give their right arm for.
Thanks to St John, the nose-to-tail revolution is happening in dining rooms across the world, but at its spiritual home you’ll still find it done the best.