Here's our verdict on the celebrated restaurant's new recipe collection.

Few restaurants can safely be called institutions, but one that can is London's iconic St. John - the work of culinary double act Fergus Henderson and Trevor Gulliver (who met initially via their shared olive oil man).

As it celebrates its 25th anniversary, the team have shared a trove of much beloved recipes (including their lauded madeleines), as well as classic staples and newly tempting dishes.

All bound in cream and gold, it's beautiful yet functional, and dedicated to eating well, in good company, with a decent glass of something cold.

The book: The Book Of St. John by Fergus Henderson and Trevor Gulliver.

Who will love it? To start with, dedicated fans of the restaurant. But even if you haven't had a chance to visit St. John directly, or experienced their Eccles cakes with Lancashire cheese in person, the recipes should appeal. Keen cooks with a penchant for 'nose-to-tail' eating (an idea pioneered by Henderson in his debut cookbook) and a particular love of pig, will especially enjoy it.

What is it trying to get us cooking? Things that make you feel good, and that use up every scrap of each ingredient. And that includes everything from lamb brain baguettes and pig's tongues with butter beans, to duck hearts and chicken, bacon and trotter pie. As Henderson notes in the introduction: "Once an animal has been killed you would be foolish not to make the best use of every single delicious part."

But there is deliciousness here for non-trotter eaters too. There is pear and sherry trifle, blackberry pavlova, poached guinea fowl with summer vegetables, braised rabbit, St. John's ever popular Welsh rarebit, and drinks galore (don't miss 'The Fergroni' - "aka Negroni As It Should Be", apparently).

How easy is it to use? It very much depends what you want from it. If you want musings on the necessary "background music" of capers and the importance of embracing curly parsley in "dumper truck proportions", the grace, wit and enthusiasm of the writing is simply enough on its own as a lovely, heartening, straightforward read. You don't even need to attempt a single recipe. But if you are that way inclined, we would suggest you read each recipe several times (there are a fair few recipes within recipes, which require flicking back and forth to other pages). While some are so easy you barely need instructions (e.g. strawberries in wine), others are convoluted feasts that require time, patience and extra hands (like the braised venison, trotter, prunes and mash).

The best recipe is... A vanilla custard stuffed doughnut and a glass of Champagne - to be consumed at 11am, no less. On Henderson's orders.

The recipe we're most likely to post pictures of on Instagram is... The pickled tripe, yes, really. It comes with bright orange slivers of carrot, pearlescent crescent moons of red onion and tons of mint. Plus, the cuttings of honeycomb tripe are strangely alluring.

The dish we're least likely to try is... The quail-stuffed whole roast suckling pig - who has the oven space? Where can you even got hold of 12 quails? But one shoulder of suckling goat might be manageable.

Overall rating: 9/10 - witty, functional, beautiful, and imbued with the true feel of the restaurant itself, it's bound to become a classic.

Here's how to make St. John's ox tongue, carrot and caper sauce...


(Serves 6, easily)

1 brined ox tongue, rinsed

2 onions, peeled and halved

2 leeks, cleaned

2 sticks of celery

1 whole head of garlic, halved lengthways

A bundle of joy (bouquet garni)

2-3L of chicken stock

8 carrots, peeled and left whole

10 black peppercorns

For the caper sauce:

80g unsalted butter

80g plain white flour

800ml whole milk

120g lilliput capers, thoroughly drained

A splash of red wine vinegar

1 heaped tbsp Dijon mustard

A dash of double cream (if you have some in the fridge)


1. Put the ox tongue, onions, leeks, celery, garlic, peppercorns and bundle of joy in a pot just large enough to house them; snug but not constrictive. Pour the chicken stock over the gathering so everything is adequately submerged, then bring the pot to just shy of boiling. At this moment reduce the heat and maintain the calmest of simmers for around two hours.

2. Drop the carrots in to simmer for another half an hour, then check the tongue with a skewer or a thin, sharp knife. It should offer no resistance and should barely cling to the skewer as you withdraw. Lift the tongue out of the liquid. Allow it to cool just enough that you are able to handle it without excessive discomfort, then peel away its skin, which will come away with ease. Reunite the peeled tongue with the vegetables and remove from the heat.

3. Keep your tongue warm in its cooking liquor. Melt the butter in a pan, add the flour and stir over a gentle heat without allowing it to colour. It is ready for the milk when a biscuity aroma begins to rise and, at this point, add the milk, whisking ferociously. When you have a fairly firm, white, velvety mixture, add a ladle of the tongue stock and whisk again. Continue adding spoonfuls of the juices until it has reached a consistency which suits you.

4. Take a handful of the capers, chop them roughly, then add them to the sauce. Taste the mixture to ascertain how strident your splash of vinegar should be, then add this along with the Dijon mustard, optional cream and the remaining whole capers.

5. Slice the tongue thinly and serve on a platter with the carrots, left whole, nestling alongside. Reinvigorate with a ladle or two of the cooking liquor and serve with jugs of the caper sauce, which will serve as Elvis in the Vegas wedding chapel, marrying the carrots and tongue with satin smoothness. Invite the eaters to pour with a sense of abundance. A match made in heaven.

The Book Of St. John by Fergus Henderson and Trevor Gulliver, photography by Jason Lowe, is published by Ebury, priced £30. Available now.