It was the chef's birthday this week, so we took a trip up to London for a birthday treat - lunch at St John's. They specialise in all those bits and pieces that most people are happy to relegate to supermarket sausages. Chef Fergus Henderson has a couple of cookbooks out (From Nose to Tail Eating, 1 and 2), and they are currently my chef's favourites.
The restaurant in located close to Farringdon tube, and is accessed up a little alley way. It is all very industrial and unpretentious, you walk through the cafe and bakery into the dining room proper - lots of white, high ceilings, exposed pipes, and terribly competent waiters who are willing to crack a smile.
I was a little worried that the menu would be offal-rama. I am, for the most part, pretty open-minded about food - but brains, kidneys, and sweetbreads tend to make me a bit squirmish. Chef ordered bone barrow for his starter - served with toast and a lobster fork to get every last morsel - it was incredibly tasty - but incredibly rich as well (chef paid for it later that evening). I played it a little safe and had a salad based on jeruselem artichokes, but I am a sucker for a root vegetable.
Chef had pig's head for his main - unfortunately not a whole pig's head served on a platter (that certainly would have had the wow factor) but rather bits and pieces of a pig's head. Chef was kind enough to share the choicest bits - the cheeks were delicious, and the ears weren't as chewy as I thought they would be (my only experience with pig's ears being my dog's special treats). I chose the smoked eels with bacon and mash (ahhhhh, those root vegetables again)- which was fabulous.
As I had to put on my psychologist hat that evening with a talk at Birkbeck, we went easy on the wine, but we did finish off the meal with a few glasses of dessert wine, the Vin De Pays D'OC Rouge (2004) Domaine Olivier Pithon 'Vitriol' - which was amazing - I am very much enjoying the trendiness of a red dessert wine.