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.