St. JOHN Restaurant Is Popping Up in These 4 American Cities
St. JOHN is something of an obsession for the Food & Wine team. That'd be easy enough to suss out from its inclusion in our inaugural World's Best Restaurants list, but you probably don't know that several staffers make a habit of planning London flights and hotels around St. JOHN reservations and one (OK, me) got a marrow scoop tattoo on her calf in 2010 shortly after digging into one of chef Fergus Henderson's signature roasted bones with parsley salad at a cruelly brief lunch pop-up at the now dearly departed Barbuto. Extreme? Maybe. Warranted? Definitely. But you don't need to go to such pricey or permanent measures to revel in the pleasures of St. JOHN, because for four glorious nights, the iconic restaurant is popping up stateside.
Henderson's Nose to Tail Eating: A Kind of British Cooking hit British bookshelves in 1999 as a cri de coeur (and tongue and stomach) for chefs and home cooks to use every last part of an animal—a mission and ethos embodied by the menu at the then five-year-old St. JOHN. The book became canon for any chef interested in modern British cuisine, innovations with offal, or minimizing food waste, and two decades later, Henderson and the restaurant's co-founder Trevor Gulliver have gone whole-hog on a new volume, The Book of St. JOHN.
"Everyone was telling us to write it, but after 25 years, we were worried it would come off like an epitaph," Gulliver explained in a transatlantic phone call with Henderson by his side. "But I suppose it means we stood the test of time, so we succumbed to the pressure and added a hundred-plus new recipes. But it's also about what we do and how we do it."
That "it," Gulliver said, is an extension of the happiness he believes emanates from St. JOHN's kitchen to the global community of chefs who come to seek inspiration. "This book isn't a manifesto," he said. "We're not totalitarian—it's about sharing and enjoying. We show them how we think things should be done, and we're just widening the net."
"I saw someone quite moved by the tripe," Henderson recalled from the long-ago lunch at Barbuto, where he served dishes like deviled kidneys, tripe gratin, and thinly shaved veal tongue to some first-time, trepidatious offal eaters. "I got choked up, because it was somehow reassuring."
With this spirit of generosity, the duo has built up a tremendous well of international goodwill and is eager to cook (Henderson's realm) and pour (Gulliver's) with friends like former St. JOHN head chef Jonathan Woolway, Paul Kahan, and others as they host four unique dinners at The Hoxton's hotel restaurants across America, like some kind of culinary Brigadoon. The five-course meal is a luxurious journey through some of St. JOHN's most beloved dishes—the marrow; a tomato, anchovy, and Little Gem salad that Henderson maintains saved his life; greens and triple-cooked chips; floating islands; madeleines; and a savory, suet-crusted pie that varies per location. Brooklyn is due a pigeon and trotter filling, Los Angeles is in for chicken, bacon, and trotter, and Portland can whet its beak for guinea fowl and—yup—trotter.
Chicago's pie remains a mystery, but Gulliver teased the possibility of pickled walnuts (which he may have to import by hand), and noted that at all dinners, in addition to a welcome cocktail, he'll serve a la carte beverage options that he's personally selected from the restaurant's repertoire. Signed books will be available for purchase, and should diners find themselves especially cozy after all the pie and libations, The Hoxton is offering discounted rooms for guests who book online with this code: YESCHEF.
"We want guests to come to the dinners and experience some of the generosity of spirit that is St. JOHN," Gulliver said. "Hopefully they can come with a smile, and leave with a bigger smile."
And—if you're me—maybe even a new tattoo.
For more information and to purchase tickets and book rooms, visit thehoxton.com/stjohn. Tickets are $78, which includes a 20% gratuity.
The Hoxton, Williamsburg, Brooklyn: Saturday, February 29th at Klein’s at 7 p.m.
The Hoxton, Chicago: Tuesday, March 3rd at Cira at 7 p.m.
The Hoxton, Portland, OR: Friday, March 6th at Lovely Rita at 7 p.m.
The Hoxton, Downtown LA: Monday, March 9th at Pilot at 7 p.m.