With the recent announcement from Simon Rogan that he would be closing his temporary restaurant “Roganic” in Marylebone tomorrow (the 20th June), I finally managed to take myself off for lunch to see what he was up to and taste first hand his experimental food with essences, mists, froths and foams.
Simon who has made his name as Chef Patron at the 2 star Michelin L’Enclume in Cartmel - nestled in the Lake Distric. It seems he is hot property. After working in London Simon headed North in the early noughties and it seems has never looked back since.
Set up two years ago Roganic was Simon’s platform to bring his food back to London. He settled on this small galley style restaurant based in Blandford Street in the eatery heart of Marylebone. On entering the restaurant it is sparsely decorated with pristine white walls, wooden floors, and modern art work. Traditional white linen cloths and napkins are set aside for bare wooden tables and leather chairs to create a relaxed environment to deliver food that boasts “a passion for the best of British” and with Simon’s reputation I expected to be in for a real treat.
On offer is a daily Plat du Jour consisting of three, six or ten courses either meat or vegetarian. We were greeted warmly by the Maitre D’ and shown to a small, quiet, anti room through the restaurant, with white walls and a glass domed roof. A variety of menus at the table and as we are dining for lunch we plump for the three course meat menu priced at £35 including two glasses of wine.
To start a amuse Bouche to tingle our taste buds in a variety of samplers; pale coral smoked cod’s roe crisps with smoked cod roe and feathers of wild herbs a mouth sized bite full of smokiness. It is evident everything has been lovingly prepared and the dedication to high class cheffery is clearly apparent, I know what is to follow will not disappoint.
Next a small creuset dish is offered to us, ethereal wisps of smokey bonfire ousing from under the lid. Inside are two mouth sized bites of paned deep fried pork croquets on a bed of hedgerow grasses still smoking their essence providing the perfect balance to the pork croquettes.
Our wine is poured, our starters arrive; Potatoes in ashes, with shallot puree, shallot crisps, lovage and salted vinegar powders, strewn with tiny shoots of pink chard. This is not just baby potatoes - its baby potatoes lovingly nurtured and grown nestled on divine onion puree, this is potatoes that taste like potatoes cooked in the fire every mouthful delights and the anticipation does not disappointed. Matched well to the wine a un-oaked Muscadet.
Our main course was lamb, baby fennel and a fine jus, again I did get the feeling that the farmer who had reared this sheep knew it well and had cared for it so much that it would not dissatisfy it’s hungry eater. The wine, a rich deep Chilean merlot supported the main event. Unfortunately my guests lamb was slightly less warm than mine but she was compensated with a glass of dessert wine without hesitation.
Dessert was Cherries with a caramalised almond custard, cherry sorbet, lemon verbena and flakes of cherry meringue. A masterpiece of culinary design, small but perfectly formed and certainly a delicious end to a perfect meal. This was followed by a shot of pine milk shake with tiny feathers of pine. My guest and I didn’t know what to make of this but a bit of fun all the same.
The service was effortless & our waitress friendly and knowledgeable, she took the time to explain the ingredients the wines and the footprint of the food which had been sourced from farms in the Lake District and brought to the table in London. So not quite locally sourced but its providence is well known.
On the whole in my opinion Simon has done what Simon set out to do in delivering the very best in British natural ingredients cooked with skill and imagination and served with warmth and style. Still building his reputation and recently entering the televised scene I do hope the deserved success continues for Simon. I for one will be making my way to L’Enclume in Cartmel at some point in the future to taste his wonderful food again.