St John Bread & Wine, Spitalfields
94 - 96 Commercial St
by Pam au Chocolat
Many's the time I think the best reason for living where I do is that St John Bread and Wine is now my local restaurant and indeed, off-licence. From 9 until 11, it does the best ever decadent breakfasts – and it’s not even that expensive.
A limited menu lists a brace of Lowestoft kippers, an Old Spot bacon sarnie, porridge, granola, stewed apple and something, and picklets (aka pikelets, aka crumpets). But what you’re really interested in is the first two listed items. Two huge, juicy, lightly grilled, undyed kippers with half a lemon come in at £6.30, but could easily feed two with a round of toast. Likewise the equally huge fragrant bacon sandwich — £4.50 but fantastic value for the quantity. Here, truly generous amounts of subtly smoky, utterly flavoursome bacon are caught between doorsteps of fluffy bread from the in-house bakery, lightly toasted to have the scent of a chargrill but none of the charcoal effect and drenched in slaverings of real butter. It comes with a little cup of fruit compote, which sounds like a nancy affectation but actually adds a fantastic extra sweetness and tartness to the combination if desired. We ordered, as usual, those two dishes to share – a lot of food for just over a tenner.
St John's serves gutsy stuff, no stinting on quantity or quality — yet somehow it is always mysteriously quiet in the morning, half-full of locals, some families, head-deep in newspapers or sleepily exchanging observations on the exploits of the night before. White walls and ordinary tables help with the feeling of peace. Good tea in a real heavy pot, with a real heavy cup that doesn’t let it get cold; good juice; full bellies: we waddle out and sigh contentedly, before re-entering the fray of the Sunday