Nose to tail dining is a fairly recent culinary trend that has been rippling through the foodie world, even finding some footing in our sunny island (ie WOLF Nose to Tail Dining). If you are not familiar with the concept, it refers to utilising every part of the animal in food preparation, including those rarely used in conventional cuisine like offal. Typical dishes include pigs’ ears, ducks’ hearts, bone marrow, etc. This is to fully stretch the potential of the animal and cooking possibilities.
Since I am in London, I thought what better than to go where it all started. Chef Fergus Henderson is the pioneer of Nose to tail dining, and has published a best selling cult cookbook “The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Dining”. His restaurant St. John’s was awarded a Michelin star in 2009, amongst other accolades. That’s why we were giddy with excitement when we saw the man himself when we visited St. John’s a few days ago. He isn’t always there, but they were filming an interview that day.
You can choose to sit at the wine and bakery where the wine and bread are prepared, but we had our meal in the adjacent dining room. The whole place was white walls, cement floors and wooden chairs. You are also encouraged to turn off mobile phones during meals. It’s like a blank canvas, and the only impression you should form of the restaurant should be based on their food.
Rabbit offal & celeriac was a starter that came first. It was lightly pan fried and the natural flavours of the liver and kidney were allowed to shine. It came with radish and rocket on the side. If you are a fan of innards in Chinese cooking, this dish would be right up your alley. But unlike Chinese styles, this is a lot more organic and natural tasting.
Brown crab meat on toast was thick and creamy. They were generous with the crab meat, and there was lemon on the side to squeeze should you want a zesty kick. I felt that this was an elite level of comfort food, because it’s good old toast, but with a really kick ass topping. Lovely to eat.
Grilled ox heart, beetroot and horseradish was surprisingly meaty. Is a heart supposed to be this meaty? It tasted very much like meat rather than an organ. Perfectly cooked. This is a must order!
Snails, sausage and chickpeas was the most flavourful part of our meal. Sausage was salty, the broth was spicy, snails were chewy and chickpeas were chickpeas. Yummy!
Can’t decide which is the best dish because all were so good. We were so pleased with all the food. And already planning our next visit to try everything else.