Not long after the girls’ steak club was born, the ladies pigfest was germinated. Who knew there were so many women desperate to consume an entire suckling pig, St John Restaurant style?!
Given the cost (and size) of the pig, a suitably sized group of eager women was quickly assembled. Groups are encouraged to order a feasting menu, where the entire group shares two starters, the suckling pig and vegetables and two desserts, all served family style.
We chose the famous St John roast marrow bones and fresh, whole crab with mayonnaise to enjoy before the pig. And eccles cake with Lancashire cheese and spotted dick and custard to have after.
The food itself was fabulous. The crab was fantastically fresh and served with a tangy mustardy mayonnaise. The portion of marrow bones (with parsley salad and toast) was a little small (and there weren’t nearly enough toasts for one each) but it was good and fatty and full of flavour.
The pork was meltingly tender and so delicious, though the crackling wasn’t as crispy as many of us had hoped. I tried pig tongue for the first time, others had the cheeks. The buttered greens and potatoes served alongside were excellent.
I can’t comment on the puddings as I had to leave before they arrived. And that leads me to the crux of the matter. All the good food in the world couldn’t entirely make up for a bit of a service fiasco.
Despite having ordered the menu in advance (and it being served in large communal dishes, family style) and made an early evening 7.30 pm booking the starter didn’t arrive for 50 minutes and the pig for more than an hour after that. Some of the girls had to leave to catch last trains. I simply found that, by 10.40 pm and with dessert still not in sight, I was crashing and set off for home too.
Those that stayed report that dessert was good, when it finally arrived.
To their absolute credit, the management of St John were quick to notice our disappointment (twitter was full of it!) and have been in touch to apologise sincerely, investigate what went wrong with a view to ensuring it doesn’t happen again and, best of all, have invited us to return for a champagne and dessert party on the house! Vive la Pigfest!