St John Bread & Wine 1

94-96 Commercial Street , London, E1 6LZ

St John b&w

SquareMeal Review of St John Bread & Wine

Proof that classic never goes out of fashion, this sparsely decorated canteen delivers "fantastic British food for adventurous eaters", according
to one reader. Whilst the acoustics might be poor, meaning you may need to shout to be heard, the more casual sibling of the mighty St John is still well worth experiencing for its "relaxed vibe", "impeccable service" and daily changing menu. Breakfast, cakes and pastries are always in demand here – one bite of the Old Spot bacon sandwich, chased by a sweet hit from one of the signature doughnuts, will explain why. But there's much more to explore on the full nose-to-tail line-up, from kohlrabi with brown shrimps and chervil via devilled kidneys or grilled mackerel with beetroot and horseradish to steamed lemon sponge or burnt vanilla cream. The sound but "pricey" all-French wine list kicks off with surprisingly good house selections by the glass.

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7.5

Food & Drink: 7.4

Service: 5.9

Atmosphere: 7.0

Value: 6.4

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 5.0

Value: 5.0

Joanna G. platinum reviewer 20 January 2017

We ate dinner here last night, and I loved everything about the place! Excellent waiting staff, buzzing atmosphere, delicious food and a daily changing menu, what's not to love? We had fois gras pate on toast, the welsh rarebit (wonderful mustard heat), skate cheeks and tartare sauce (super light crispy batter), cucumber, kohlrabi and brown shrimp salad (divine) and roasted quail with crab apple jelly and a bottle of Picpoul and the bill only came to £73. People were popping in on their way home to buy the freshly baked bread (which is wonderful) and you can even buy the rarebit topping to take home and make your own. I am already planning my next visit.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 3.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 4.0

Hugo G. silver reviewer 07 November 2016

Have been coming here since it opened, and always love it. SJBW is by no means for the faint hearted or picky eaters, the food is pared back rustic with a whiff of foraging in every dish. Smoked sprats come simply on a plate with a dollop of horseradish. Homemade bread with superb butter is a treat. Duck hearts with loveage or lambs brains in breadcrumbs are done so gently and deftly that whilst you might baulk at the headings or thought of eating such offal, the actual experience is sublime. Fresh game such as hare, mallard or grouse feature often when in season. the only difficulty is navigating the wine list which is eclectic to say the least - but then again so is the place itself.

Food & Drink: 2.0

Service: 0.0

Atmosphere: 2.0

Value: 2.0

Brian S. 12 December 2015

Despite telling the head waiter and the waiter serving our table that we had a time constraint the restaurant ignored this and proceeded to serve us at a glacial pace. Everything was slow. When 10 minutes before our planned departure our main course had not arrived, enquiries got the head waiter to explain his approach (based on 30 years experience!) that they do not tell the kitchen to proceed with preparing the main course until the plates from the starter have been cleared. Clearly responding to the customer is not part of his approach. As we were discussing the problem, with voices becoming raised on both sides, the main courses appeared 5 minutes before we needed to leave. I told them to return them to the kitchen as there was no time to eat them. We then left the restaurant. Having eaten there before with no problems I was very disappointed with the approach they took and the very unresponsive reaction to my complaint.

Food & Drink: 3.0

Service: 3.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 3.0

Corinne C. bronze reviewer 08 April 2014

Great as usual. Favourite of mine for informal business lunch.

Food & Drink: 3.0

Service: 0.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 2.0

Gloria V. 15 October 2013

I was there yesterday for lunch. I was basically ignored by the wait staff, maybe because I was alone. I would never knowingly go there again,

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 5.0

Adrian B. 15 May 2013

Very St John in terms of the type of food. Great experiences of unusual, interesting, tasty food. An excellent night out. One small grouse (not a real complaint) was that there were so many people having such a great time, that we couldn't hear ourselves over the noise.

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 5.0

Value: 3.0

Tish T. 29 March 2012

What an amazing dinner – I think we worked our way through most of the menu, all of which was amazing. This is not somewhere for the squeamish/faint hearted, as a lot of it is offal related, but the taste is out of this world, the wine list good and service excellent. The Madelines for pudding were out of this world! Would absolutely go again but it is pretty expensive, especially the wine.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 3.0

Alexandra H. 02 April 2011

We went on Saturday afternoon. Having never been to St John restaurant I thought it would be a good starter experience to try St John Bread and Wine. The place was packed and we were told as soon as we asked for a table that there might be a wait for the food but we didn't mind. Perhaps the service has been bad in the past (judging by the reviews on here) but we had a super waitress, who immediately asked if we needed some water (the amount of restaurants that this doesn't happen in is extraordinary and I would pretty much have given a 9 for this!) she talked us through the process and was really helpful when we asked her about the wine. We ordered an aperitif from the board on her recommendation – a Pineau de Charentes – which was super. She even came back to ask what we thought of it. The food was good, English style tapas, and we ordered five plates between the 2 of us. Enormous hunks of bread kept us occupied as we waited. The food arrived bit by bit, but that is part of the relaxed dining experience and it suited us perfectly. The venison and pickled walnuts were great, the crispy pork skin not as crispy as you might wnat but the dressing was delicious. Atmosphere was great – buzzy, busy and quite different. It is quite minimal but we thought it worked very well, although prices were a little on the high side. On the down side the loos do seem to be rather self conciously grotty, peeling surfaces and horrid flooring paired with Cowshed handwash – but I think that rather sums up the St John ethos. We really enjoyed it and a trip to St John (when we're feeling slightly more flush) is definitely on the cards.

Food & Drink: 1.0

Service: 0.0

Atmosphere: 0.0

Value: 0.0

Jill H. 07 January 2011

I had a lunch here recently and have to say I left the place feeling depressed having spent £40 on dishes that were just awful and a wine that had such a mark-up on it it felt like theft! The mashed potatoe with egg and fried chicken skin sounded different and appealing but it actually turned mine and my colleagues stomach. It was served tepid, the mash was drowned in the water from the egg and it was inedible… the spinanch and lamb with anchovy dressing only tasted of anchovy and being a cold dish made for it as a rather repulsive dish… the place is cold and despite having lots of windows and white walls it is actually quite dark, I got the feeling they were saving on both heat and electric bills… as for the staff, well they barely grunt at you and despite the place being half empty our first plate of food arrived almost 30 minutes after we ordered…This place is not worth it, I cannot understand why people have recommended it… simply AWFUL!

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 2.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 3.0

Nick B. bronze reviewer 09 June 2010

4 of us went for Sunday lunch, being my wife 25 year old daughter and her boyfriend. The place was full and we enjoyed the buzz of the place – the dining area, very plainly decorated, is fairly small so quite noisy when full which was fun for a ‘chatty’ sunday lunch. We really liked the fact that you could approach the meal rather like english tapas i.e we choose 6-7 dishes of the starters menu and shared – it worked very well and the food was all good and tasty – incidentally the choice of main courses is very limited so this is not a place for a more formal occasion if that is what you want. The wine list is Ok – not cheap overall although they had a couple of binends on the board and i chose a red burgundy from there. Considering all the postives above, I was disappointed with the service – it took some waving to get someone to take our wine order and then replenish wine and water later – service of the food itself is ok. I think they could do with one more member of staff just making sure everyone has got what they want to drink and fast – actually they would probably sell more if they did. Having said that we did finaly manage to get 3 bottles of wine delivered and much enjoyed between 4! Hic! Price, all up, was just over £200 inc service for 4, with £90 of that being the wine! Having been taken to the original St John's for snday lunch a month or so ago my wife and I feel that we enjoyed this restaurant better – the food, atmosphere, decor and pricing all seems to work better than at the more ‘formal’, relatively, original. Definitely will go again for Sunday lunch!

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