• British• Farringdon
Chef and co-founder Fergus Henderson is an inspirational figure in the UK food scene, having pioneered an approach to cooking that makes use of the whole animal, and putting traditional British comfort-food dishes back on the map. Henderson headed up the kitchen at The French House Dining Room in the 1990s before opening St. John in Clerkenwell with restaurateur Trevor Gulliver.
St. John was praising the virtues of simple dishes served for the table to share way before it was popular, and its style of service reflects its unfussy, pared-down look and feel.
Dishes at St. John are usually simple in their construction, making use of high-quality British meats and seasonal vegetables, and with a focus on serving offal in exciting ways. Menus change often, but long-standing favourites among diners include lamb sweetbreads and Welsh rarebit on house-made sourdough.
This restaurant is often referred to as an institution. Not because of its whitewashed, asylum-like aesthetic, but because of the ‘nose to tail’, eat the lot, approach to food that it popularised.
From the moment self-trained chef Fergus Henderson opened his restaurant in 1994, in a converted smokehouse in Clerkenwell, St John became a cult.
For foodies making pilgrimages to Britain, the shrine of St John is the equivalent of Santiago de Compostela for those hungry for soul food. To admit you don't much like St John is a worse faux pas than ordering steak well done
Fergus Henderson's temple of gastronomy is his greatest triumph
Two decades on from its founding, this minimally decorated Clerkenwell pioneer is as good as ever: gutsy but sophisticated British cooking, puds a strong point.
The simply white-washed walls make no attempt to hide the colourful past of St. John, a Clerkenwell institution that resides in a building which has changed very little over the years.