John’s House Restaurant
A few phone calls and a six month waiting list later, I finally made it to Leicestershire's only Michelin-starred restaurant...but was it worth the wait?
Opened by John Duffin four years ago, John’s House is actually, well, John’s house. The characterful 16th century thatched building in the village of Mountsorrel is where John grew up and it has been cleverly transformed into a rustic, cosy restaurant.
There’s actually a lovely family story behind the restaurant – it backs off onto Stonehurst Farm which is run by John’s brother, Tom. Meanwhile, twin sister Emily runs the farm’s tea shop and mum still lives in the family home – just on the other side of the building.
The restaurant is quietly located off the High Street and you may well have a blink-and-you-might-miss-it moment like we did when we drove right past. It’s a discreet but brilliant location and gives you an idea of what not to expect from the rest of your night – no flashy decor, no busy city centre location, no fancy lighting or posh-looking menus – everything about John’s House is humble, cosy and totally charming.
The restaurant gained a Michelin star within one year of opening and has managed to hang onto it ever since – pretty impressive I’d say! Inside, it’s essentially a house that’s been split into a number of different sections, so you’ll never see the kitchen, or know where the waiting staff disappear to when they head down the stairs at the back.
It’s cosy with exposed brick walls, there’s a rustic fireplace, battered arm chairs, original wooden beams, tight corners as well as tiny nooks and crannies all over the place.
We started our foodie journey downstairs in the lounge designed to look like a living room but a very small one at that. We’d pawned off the kids to the in-laws quite early in the evening so we were the first ones there.
We had a few nibbles in the form of crispy smoked pig’s head with a charcoal emulsion, barley crackers with sea trout and smoked dill and it was finished off with a delicious mushroom and truffle tart and a beetroot macaroon.
We then moved upstairs into the main part of the restaurant – it’s just as intimate here (the restaurant only takes 30 covers a night) but is split into two sections so you never feel too crammed in.
There’s a special focus on the Taster Menu which is what we, and it seemed like most of the other diners were having and at £79 per person, we were expecting to be impressed.
The Taster Menu consisted of seven perfectly presented dishes including wild garlic custard and horseradish toastie, a chilled cream of Porthilly Oyster white crab and English mustard followed by a tartare of Bradgate Park venison, lovage, artichoke and crispy quails eggs which Mr Muddy surprisingly enjoyed (he’s never had venison before).
The salted fillet of cod, brawn, aubergine passion fruit and curry spices was next before the Stonehurst Hebridean hogget, goat’s curd and alliums.
I was eating from the vegetarian menu and was interested to see how the same ingredients were being used.
I also started off with the toastie and then moved onto heritage carrots, dill and creme fraiche, followed by Jersey Royals alliums and crispy artichoke. A dish of braised leeks, hazelnut, truffle, crisply quail eggs was next, but my favourite was the potato risotto wild garlic and goats curd (I’m getting hunger pangs just reading this over).
Dessert included parsnip sorbet, liquorice and mint and got even better with Yorkshire rhubarb, pistachio and vanilla.
Worried that we wouldn’t be quite full, I had a back-up plan back home involving left overs from the night before but we were positively stuffed, very satisfied and seriously impressed at what we’d just experienced.
Food aside, a special mention to our waitress who was super friendly and chatty and had all the answers to my questions – always a bonus in my book.
OUT AND ABOUT
If you’re here for lunch you can’t leave without paying a visit to the farm and you’ll love it even more if the kids are with you. It’s a brilliant place for them to explore and run around in and has plenty to offer and you can easily spend a few hours here. Don’t forget to visit the farm shop where you can fill your bags with a fantastic range of veggies, jams and preserves.
Good for: A must for all foodies who like fine dining, tasting menus. Great for a special treat and it was obvious some people were here celebrating special anniversaries. It was mainly couples and a few larger parties. It’s not overly dressy or fancy in anyway so you won’t feel out of place if you don’t like dressing up too much but everyone here had made an effort.
Not for: Kids! Well not at dinner but you can bring them along for lunch. The grown-up feel and posh food may not be for you, if you’re a casual pub lunch kinda gal.
The damage: Lunch is really well priced at two courses for £26 or three courses £30 Dinner is £48 for two courses or £55 for three courses (I think this is really reasonable for a Michelin restaurant) or go all out for the Taster menu at £79 for 7 courses and tea and coffee or for the wine pairing at £124.
John’s House Restaurant, 139-141 Loughborough Road, Mountsorrel, Loughborough, Leicestershire, LE12 7AR