Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Madeleines at St John Bread and Wine

Address: 94-96 Commercial Street, London E1 6LZ
Tel: 020 7251 0848
Nearest Tube station: Liverpool Street

Ratings (out of 5 *)
Price: below £25 pp
Reservation strictly necessary for dinners
Service charge: N/A
Taste: ****
Service: **
Ambience: *
Suitable for: a leisure afternoon tea
or a lavish dinner
Mention St John and most people will immediately associate it with the nose to tail eating that it is famous for. Simply put, the restaurant's philosophy is to not to waste any part of an animal (in its case, a pig) and to use all parts of the animal in its dishes. I would have loved to go for its whole roast suckling pig to see how it differs from the Chinese version (which is indeed yummy) but given that you need a party of at least 13 pork lovers to order an entire suckling pig and the restaurant does not serve its roast suckling pig in smaller portions, I could only pine for it.

Madeleines+St+John+Bread+and+Wine+review+London+ChowBut I digress. What I mean to say is that St John produces very decent baked goods as well. St John Bread and Wine at Spitalfields is the branch with the bakery though St John at Smithfields apparently serves some baked goods too. Friends swear by their freshly made breads but I will let you in on a secret - their madeleines are to die for. You could buy them for a take-away but given that they are freshly baked (you have to wait for 15 minutes for each order), the best way to savour them is to have them in the restaurant on the spot with a hot pot of Earl Grey.

The famous quote from Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time reads: “One day in winter, my mother offered me some tea ... She sent out for one of those short, plump little cakes called petites madeleines, which look as though they had been moulded in the fluted scallop of a pilgrim’s shell ... I raised to my lips a spoonful of the tea in which I had soaked a morsel of the cake. No sooner had the warm liquid, and the crumbs with it, touched my palate than a shudder ran through my whole body, and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary changes that were taking place. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses ...”

Have the madelines at St John one of these winter afternoons and make Proust's experience yours.

Guest post by TwinkleToe - a discerning eater who occasionally posts at Singaporean in London (read London Pantomime - Aladdin review) (image source)

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