Needless to say, we stepped inside for a glass or two and some oysters. The appearance of the restaurant is striking. White walls, high ceilings, plain and sturdy furniture, chalk board covered in menu items. If I'm being honest, it was intimidating and exciting to just stumble, unprepared, into a restaurant that's been on my mind for years.
When our much anticipated first morsels of food arrived I picked up my oyster and tried to slip it gently into my mouth but to my surprise it did not slip, the abductor muscle had not been cut. A few pokes with a fork and it was released, but it was a jarring first bite. Whether it was a mistake from the kitchen, or an aesthetic decision to not interfere with the food I can't say. I can say it was embarrassing, sitting at the bar at a Michelin Star restaurant unable to out smart my mollusc. It took a minute or two and another glass of wine to compose myself, but I did.
Roast grouse (my first), lamb shank, eccles cake and cheese, lemon sorbet and vodka - the rest of the meal went smoothly, and was delicious. The grouse was challenging, rare and meaty. The area of the bird where it had been shot was a bit bitter from the pool of blood, but my dining partner (an experienced grouse eater from Wisconsin) ensured me that this was part of the grouse experience. This will not be my last time eating grouse.
Anyone who has the chance, please go eat at St John. The aesthetic experience, the service and the food are all worth the trip. I plan on going again, hopefully soon.