St John Bread & Wine

© John Deehan
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St John’s smaller offshoot has the same workaday style as its Smithfield parent: a bright, white, canteen-like space, no-frills furniture, walls lined with coat hooks, and a utilitarian bakery counter in one corner.

Exceptionally well-informed staff in whites give the impression they could be chefs bringing you each dish as soon as they’ve cooked it (which may sometimes be the case). The main difference is in menus: there are no real ‘courses’ for lunch or dinner (except a salad and soups that could pass as ‘starters’), but medium-sized dishes that you can have in any order. The essential culinary approach is unchanged – an exploration of every under-appreciated British ingredient (especially gutsy meats), skill, imagination and second-to-none freshness – and it seems to work even better in small doses. Goat’s curd and grilled spring onions on a slice of superb own-baked bread was made exhilarating by dashes of fabulously fresh mint; lamb onglet with chicory and anchovy didn’t recall any old English recipe to mind, but was a wonderfully rich, perfectly balanced mix.

Generously sized puds are as big as mains, and wines are impressive. A hit for breakfast, with a renowned bacon sandwich, Bread & Wine now also offers afternoon tea.


Venue name: St John Bread & Wine
Address: 94-96 Commercial Street
E1 6LZ
Opening hours: Breakfast served 9-11am daily. Lunch served noon-6pm Mon-Fri; noon-4pm Sat, Sun. Dinner served 6-9pm Mon; 6-11pm Tue-Sun
Transport: Tube: Liverpool Street
Price: Main courses £7.10-£17.10

Average User Rating

2.5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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I've been to the St. John a few times in the past and was keen to recommend to friends. Last night, though, I can only describe it as 'grim'. By the time we arrived, four out of the six specials were gone. On the menu, another three were crossed out. A fourth was removed once we ordered it, forcing us to chose something else. Felt like we were racing against the other customers to see who could order first before the place run out of food. Ordered the wine, 15 minutes later, they couldn't find a bottle. Had to chose again... When you can't even stock wine, you're in trouble. The lack of ingredients also affected the portions of the stuff they 'had'. Some were simply lacking the main ingredient, like the ham and peas -- which features a single, lonely strip of ham. Not over yet... Kid you not. The service was so bad, so evil, that the woman taking care of our table couldn't tell me what was the dish she had just served on the table next to ours. Yes, you read it right, she didn't know what was that she had just served another customer. I'm not one to make restaurant reviews -- actually, I believe this is my first. But this one I had to put out there to spare others from the same destiny. I for one won't be setting foot there anytime soon.


This place isn't really listed in the right category; as well as doing its own bread, it is a full-blown restaurant. My partner and I went this morning for breakfast (a special anniversary treat). Wonderful clean, bright atmosphere. You are seated in a medium-sized 'dining-hall' type room, which makes for noise at lunch and dinner times but is an interesting setting. The service was excellent, with staff knowledgeable about the ingredients. The food took a little while to arrive, but this was because it was made fresh. Portions are generous and worth the price, combinations are beautifully thought out, presentation is high on the agenda. Absolutely stunning.