Please note, St John's Maltby has now closed. Time Out Food editors, August 2019.
St John’s Druid Street bakery supplies its restaurants (and others) with excellent loaves, fresh custard-filled doughnuts, buttery Eccles cakes and more. It hawks these goods at a Saturday stall which has become a cult stop-off for those heading to the weekend market on nearby Maltby Street. And now, St John has quietly launched a Bread & Wine-style restaurant under a railway arch on that same street, open Wednesday to Saturday evenings and during the day at weekends. You’ll find white walls, reclaimed pews and chalkboard menus cheerfully scribbled with the sparest of descriptions, with the gentle rumbling sound of trains overhead.
The shareable menu suggests plenty of options ‘on toast’ – St John’s umami-laden anchovy paste, offal such as devilled kidneys, plus Welsh rarebit. Elsewhere, seasonal ingredients are simply served: we merrily worked our way through a whole globe artichoke, plunging its leaves into tart, creamy vinaigrette, then dipped chunky asparagus spears into melted butter. Larger dishes, such as lightly smoked haddock with buttery saffron sauce, were prime examples of the St John style: simple comfort food.
The exclusively French wine list has two dozen options by the glass, all from small producers. A mellow, fruity 2013 edelzwicker riesling paired well with nothing in particular but was easy drinking. The big drawback is that this part-time restaurant takes no bookings, and if it’s busy, you might make a journey in vain.