St John Hotel★ // Soho // London

below expectations

Following the successful St John Smithfield and Spitalfield restaurants, Fergus and Trevor opened their latest restaurant-hotel in Chinatown in mid 2012. Within a few months, it had already earned its first Michelin star.

It’s hard to miss this immaculate corner restaurant with its minimalist interior design, similar to the other St Johns. The friendly staff are meticulous in their welcome, the wine list is extensive and the bread is freshly baked; a signature of St John.

The menu offers fewer main dishes than starters, leading high expectations on the later. The roasted bone marrow and parsley salad is very tasty and the mallard legs and turnip are perfectly cooked and have an authentic taste. The snail, duck heart and lovage, ox tongue, beetroot and horseradish are promising, but unfortunately the taste is flat and ends-up a clear disappointment.

However, the kid faggot dumplings and the red cabbage braised short rib are slow cooked, simply to perfection, made all the better by knowing that dishes like that are difficult to find in London. The sea bass cocoa beans and fennel is fresh but nothing adventurous in the cooking or the flavour. A theme that is true across most of the restaurant’s dishes.

Though the dessert menu will bring a smile to the face of a sweet lover; delicious treats like freshly baked madeleines, apple pie, ice cream vodka, and the baked chocolate Alaska are well worth a try.

St John honours simplicity and authenticity in its cooking and is definitely a good alternative to the numerous fusion kitchens in London. The only problem is it’s not outstanding enough to keep the memorable experience that the Michelin standard as it should be, the creativity is poor, the service is brasserie (and not the best one). Michelin one star is all about being surprised and having a emotional strong experience. Here, St John delivers authentic and traditional dishes that are simply the gastronomic norm.

Vialaporte endorses the concept but not the star, however if you want to experience a reasonably price pubby food, it’s a good spot. When gastro pubs do their job well to show-off traditional British Victorian food, St John doesn’t seem so special.

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St John's Hotel

1 Leicester Square, Soho, London, WC2H 7BL (View in a map)

Tel: +44(0)203 301 8020