Saturday 19th July 2014
St. John’s Place
Simple website: http://stjohnsplacehay.tumblr.com/
One sultry summer night we entered St. John’s Place in Hay-on-Wye unsure if the reviews on Trip Advisor would live up to expectation.
From the moment we arrived, and I should perhaps warn folks that the entrance is indeed somewhat uninspiring, we were given a very warm welcome by the friendly Lorna. The decor is plain and very simple with the exception of the sculptured pig heads on the wall and the sheep’s head on a stick in the window. Fortunately I had my back to them but I am sure they would appeal to some and infact I thought I heard that the Sheep on a stick had already sold!
Our first treat was a Raspberry and Rose Vodka Martini served in a simple glass but tasted delicious and certainly had a certain little kick!
Then we decided to share a plate of the Salted Hake Stuffed Olives with Capers and Tarragon
Sadly I forgot to take a photo of our starter as we were blown away by it. Smoked Trout with Tomatoes, Beetroot, Fennel & Horseradish
David’s main course was the Beef Short Rib with Peas, Broad Beans, Smoked Potato and Parsley but the photo does not really do justice to the delightful colour on the plate of the borage flowers, peas and peeled broad beans.
I decided to have the non meat option. I should perhaps point out at this stage that there were three starter options, three main course options (one fish, one meat and one non meat) and three dessert options.
We chose the Fronton Reserve 2011 Chateau La Colombière wine listed under a very small list of special wines but it was an excellent match for both our dishes
My dish was Crespelle, Courgette, Leek & Curd, Chilli, Oregano and Pine Nut. The vegetables were perfectly cooked still with a crispness but certainly not undercooked. Slight warmth with the spicy notes and the pine nuts added a welcome contrast. The Crespelle was delicious.
David had the Beignets with Fennel Sugar and Lemon Curd and I had the Warm Savarin with Berries and Vanilla Ice Cream. We both had a glass of red dessert wine (insert name when I get copy of menu). The flavours and textures of both desserts were superb.
Finally we had coffee and David had a glass of Grappa. I must admit the only thing I would change from the whole evening was serving coffee in glasses with no handles!
There was a real buzz amongst the diners and we exchanged comments with our adjacent diners who all seemed to be equally impressed with the standard of food. The restaurant seats max of 24 diners at one sitting and they are only open on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights from 6pm. Booking is pretty much essential.
Chef Julia is very talented and obviously is being very sensible about not over stretching herself and what the very small team at St John’s Place can offer. I gather there were only four of them in the team last night. When I spoke to a somewhat shy Julia after our meal I was taken by her obvious pleasure that her guests had enjoyed her food.
I would love to return and see how Julia developes St John’s Place. The folks of Hay-on-Wye are certainly very lucky to have this relatively new eatery and I hope they will support and encourage Julia and her small team.
NB. Apologies for the poor quality of the photos but I was trying to be discreet and took them with my old iPhone3. Yes, I spend my money on good food and wine instead of upgrading to the latest mobile phone!