The St John Hotel is an odd little place, totally at odds with its surroundings. Like a well to do gent that has fallen on hard times the rather austere dining room is well turned out but not a penny has been wasted on pomp or faff.
I order tea and when it arrives the world suddenly becomes a better place. The St Johns English Breakfast blend is full bodied and rich, cutting straight through the morning fug.
Like most hotels on a Monday morning the dining room was quiet as a church mouse. The diminutive cook chatting idly whilst we decided what to eat.
The menu is pleasingly succinct as you’ve probably come to expect in an establishment with Mr Henderson’s name above the door. With a definite offaly nod and a typically St John take on some British classics.
The Lady opted for the Boiled Egg and Soldiers with Anchovy butter whilst I chose the Pigs Cheek and Pea Omelette. When our order went in we watched as our tiny chef sprang into action with the efficient fluidity of movement you come to expect from a well practised cook.
The open kitchen is tiny and no space is wasted. I’d love to come back on an evening and see how they cope with a few more bodies and a couple of dozen more dupes at the pass.
The Anchovy Butter Soldiers are not for the faint hearted. The dark butter more akin to Gentleman’s Relish piled high on the well scorched toast.
Delicious when dipped into the rich yolk but my god you have like Anchovies A LOT to cope with this one. Luckily the Lady is a fiend when it comes to the fishies and she polishes it off quick smart.
I don’t know what I was expecting from the omelette but I’m somehow disappointed with what appears on my plate. The Pig Cheek clearly shredded and fried till crisp in the omelette while delicious is not the sticky unctuous cheeky mess I somehow imagined.
It was however perfectly executed and a great example of how you should cook eggs. It just lacked that something moist alongside it to help it along.
With Mr Henderson sat across from us enjoying his breakfast I some how find myself lacking the balls to ask for some brown sauce for fear of offending one of my cooking idols. Though in hindsight I doubt Fergus would be subject to the fits of pique you could expect from some of his contemporaries.
All in all the St John Hotel is definitely a treat, the whole experience is one best tried with the time to enjoy it properly and one I’d recommend. Next time though I’ll go heavy on the offal and try those amazing looking Devilled Kidneys...