John’s House Restaurant
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 location and gives you an idea of what not to expect from the rest of your night . There’s 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. It 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 different sections. 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’d pawned off the kids to the in-laws quite early in the evening so we were the first ones there. Our foodie journey began in the lounge downstairs which actually looked like a living room.
We started with a few nibbles; crispy smoked pig’s head with a charcoal emulsion, barley crackers with sea trout and smoked dill, finished off with a delicious mushroom and truffle tart and beetroot macaroon.
We then moved upstairs into the main part of the restaurant. They only take 30 covers a night and the area is split in two sections so you never feel cramped and the experience is never rushed.
There’s a special focus on the Taster Menu which is what we had. For £79 per person, we were expecting big things.
We were served seven perfectly presented dishes; 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. Considering Mr Muddy has never eaten venison before, he gobbled up this dish in no time.
Then came the salted fillet of cod, brawn, aubergine passion fruit and curry spices, 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 going to be used here.
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 writing about it.
I’ve always wondered about parsnip sorbet and what it would taste like. Well, I got my chance to sample it for dessert. Being a sweet veggie, there was actually nothing strange in the flavour, I wouldn’t have even known I was eating parsnip if it wasn’t for the menu. Perhaps the liquorice and mint helped too!? We also had some Yorkshire rhubarb, pistachio and vanilla.
I was worried that we wouldn’t be full (well more to the point, Mr Muddy) so I did have a back-up plan involving left overs from the night before but, when you’re spending £79 each for dinner, you want to leave satisfied in every way. And we did!
The food was exceptional and a special mention to our waitress who was not only super friendly, but, more importantly had the answers to all my questions.
OUT AND ABOUT
If you’re here for lunch, don’t leave without paying a visit to the farm . If you’ve got kids in tow, they’ll love you for it! 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 veg, eggs and preserves.
Good for: A must for all foodies. Great for a special occasion – it was obvious some people were here celebrating special events. It was mainly couples and a few larger parties. It’s cosy and charming and not overly dressy or fancy, so you won’t feel out of place if you can’t be bothered to put your heels or lippie on.
Not for: Kids! Well not at dinner but you can bring them for lunch. For dinner there’s a grown-up feel but the posh food may not be for you if you’re a casual pub 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