March 6, 2011

Enjoying Bread and Wine Back in London

After a week in the City of Lights we returned to London. On our first night back in England we took the tube to Liverpool Street station and walked towards Spitalfields Market for dinner.

Our dining destination was St. John Bread and Wine. A white facade with black letters mark the building that houses this dining establishment. Inside the decor is equally understated - the focus here is food. This restaurant is known for serving quality, well prepared (mostly classic British) food. In addition, they are known for preparing all types of meats, including those that are traditionally considered economic cuts. (There are also vegetable and fish dishes on the menu.)
After sitting down our waiter served us a plate of bread and butter. Jonathan selected some wine from a chalkboard list, and then we began to review the menu of the day. They offer both smaller plates and main courses, all of which vary based on what is in season. We ordered green olives, Jerusalem artichokes, and a beetroot salad with horseradish dressing to share; in addition, Jonathan got crispy pig skin and mutton with quince.

The olives were lovely - large, crisp, and flavorful. The beet salad was fresh and earthy with an excellent horseradish dressing. Jonathan thoroughly enjoyed crispy pig skin. He was surprised to find his mutton dish was actually a cured meat - like a ham, but originating from a different animal. However, he enjoyed that was well. The artichokes were roasted with crispy, slightly-caramelized edges and were served with arugula. This was our favorite dish - so much so that we ordered a second serving.

Next I ordered some British cheddar and Jonathan got a dish called “middle white faggot and swede”. Before ordering the dish, he did ask the waiter for some explanation. We learned that "faggot" in old British cooking is a bundle, and in this case it was a bundle of meat. Then she continued to explain that swede was a vegetable. (I later learned from Wikipedia it another term for rutabaga because that vegetable is often called a Swedish or yellow turnip.)

Jonathan’s intriguing dish arrived and looked like an over-sized meatball served on a root vegetable purée. The cheese was very good - a wedge of fabulously intense cheddar served with raisin bread. It was the perfect end to meal after a week of eating chocolate and sweets south of the English Channel!

St. John Bread and Wine is a simple, yet elegant restaurant. Stark, yet cozy. It is a place you will want to order a second dish of vegetables and enjoy your bread and wine.

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