Offal Lunch at St. John Bread and Wine
I cut into it and it spewed, simple as that. Not a bad spew. Just a spew. Didn’t want Lisa to see though, so I mopped it up and shoved it in my mouth. Damn, it was tasty.
“What was that?” she asked.
“I’ll tell you later,” I told her.
“Tell me now,” she insisted.
“Better later.” I kept chewing, but I couldn’t convince her. So I told her:
“The heart just did what it was made to do …”
“Don’t tell me any more!” she relented.
It was simple, really. I cut into my grouse offal on toast, I tried to slice one of the hearts in two, it spewed a bit of bloody goo across my plate. Should have seen it coming, actually.
We’d already eaten the kohlrabi, cucumber and chervil salad, snacked on some olives, devoured the foie gras and duck liver toasts. Lisa even liked the ox heart and cabbage salad. But the grouse offal was a bit much for her.
“We’re going to need another glass of wine to get this all down,” Lisa declared. We got another round.
St. John was one of the places I definitely wanted to stop at while in London. We’re big fans of Fergus Henderson’s book, The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating, so we were excited to be living (temporarily) close to one of his restaurants, St. John Bread and Wine.
Fergus Henderson, an architect by trade, a chef by patience, is revered by folks like Mario Batali and Anthony Bourdain. He cooks the odd bits and cast-offs that most people ignore. He opened the original St. John in 1994. He opened St. John Bread and Wine in 2003. He earned a Michelin star in 2009.
His book is amazing. The recipes are informal and casual and bizarre — one is for radishes with salt and butter. Basically, just trim the radishes, add a bit of salt, eat with a nob of butter. Recipe: done. Another is for chocolate ice cream. Fergus, or Mr. Henderson, admits that the recipe could be improved — it’s just the best one he’s come up with so far. He invites people to make suggestions. Spoiler alert: we had the ice cream and it’s amazing. But I’m getting ahead of myself. That’s not until dessert.
St. John Bread and Wine was originally opened as a wine and bread shop. It was to provide bread for the flagship St. John restaurant. But people wanted food, so they turned it into a restaurant / shop and started serving. Prices are slightly lower than at the other place, but still plenty pricey, which was why our original plan was to stop in for a tiny snack instead of a splurge.
But then a couple friends sent a birthday gift with the directions to “do something fun.” Goodbye restraint. This lunch was a gluttonous feast. We got two desserts.
The madeleines would take 15 minutes, the menu warned. We’d already been there for over an hour, what was another quarter? We ordered a half-dozen and the chocolate ice cream … and a bit of blue cheese for the wait. The service was far from rushed. Honestly, it could have been a bit quicker. We liked our female waitress more than our male waiter … but we had two of them, so how much can we complain?
The cookies arrived piping and perfect, light and ephemeral. The ice cream was the opposite — heavy and thick and hearty. They were great together.
We left happy. The morning’s storm had ended and the sun was creeping out. It was a great lunch. It was time for a nap.