6th January 2013
Roganic is a two year pop-up by Simon Rogan who is also the man behind the esteemed L’Enclume restaurant in Cumbria. Two years isn’t exactly pop-up in my book but they are nearing the end of this tenure and as a result it has been pushed higher up my bucket list of restaurants to try. I was really excited by the food he cooked on The Great British Menu (where he won the dessert round), so I was really looking forward to our lunch there. Incidentally, they have secured a permanent site in London and will take up residence in June, all going well.
There is strong focus on seasonality and foraging and so there is only a choice of 3, 6 or 10 courses meat or vegetarian. My fellow Tweeters/Twitterers/Twits (Whatever you call people who tweet?) recommended that I go for the 10 course menu, but that was too much, yet the 3 course menu didn’t seem quite enough. So we opted for the 6 course menu at £55 per head.
We started with an amuse bouché. Unfortunately the waiter rattled these off too quickly for me to remember exactly what it was, so forgive me for being vague! One was a chickpea crisp with cream cheese and the other was a squid ink crisp with liver parfait. Both delicious, but the chickpea crisp was the favourite. I was looking forward to the meal if more like this was to follow.
Leek custard with dill broth, salsify and mustard. The leek custard was to die for, the consistency was creamy and smooth and the broth really light. The dill a really strong flavour in the broth, but not overpowering. The mustard seeds added a nice bite to it.
Artichoke dumplings with truffle, Ragstone and perilla. TBH was a little concerned about this course, being a vegetable dodger, but he needn’t have worried. As he went on to say later on in the meal “nothing is as it seems on the menu!”
Pink fir in chicken fat, crab, horseradish and chicken skin. It was at this point that I started getting worried. Pink fir is a variety of potato and the way it was cooked in the chicken fat was sublime. It was soft and the chicken fat was so good that I wanted to dab up the sauce with the wonderful bread they’d left for us (which included a pumpernickel bread and an onion bread. All made in house). The crab was a great addition to the dish, adding a nice saltiness. BUT there was only 1 tiny new potato! We were half way through our menu and I was still quite hungry!

Brill, chervil roots, clams and wood blewits. For both of us, this was our favourite course and that is saying something as TBH doesn’t really like fish! The fish was perfectly cooked and the creamy chervil root gave the dish a slight sweetness, almost like parsnips. The crisp added a great texture to the dish.

Reg’s guinea hen, parsley root, salt-baked turnip, offal and yarrow. Another very good dish. The guinea fowl was moist and tender and the turnip was sharp and cut through the rich iron taste of the offal. The biggest surprise on the dish for me was the parsley root – I had to ask the waiter what it was because it was cream in colour and tasted almost woody. I did not expect that. It was really, really tasty.

Pears, chestnuts and crispy cake. As I’ve said before, I’m not a huge dessert eater, so the sharpness of the pear purée was a good end to the meal for me. The crispy cake reminded me of a sea sponge in looks, but had a great nutty flavour and wasn’t overly sweet.

Douglas Fir milkshake. This was served instead of petit fours, which I would’ve preferred. You cannot beat a bitter dark chocolate truffle in my opinion. I just did not like this at all. Again, it reminded me of something weird – one of those pine air fresheners that you hang from your car rearview mirror.  Not pleasant at all for me.

Service was good and the waiters all knew their product really well. We asked a lot of questions and they were engaging and happy to talk us through the plans for the restaurant. I was impressed that they all get to spend time at their flagship restaurant in Cumbria, at the farm and in the kitchen where the recipes are developed.
I was expecting to be blown away by all the different flavours, but I have to say that there wasn’t one stand-out dish for me. The cooking was good and there were some clever ideas, but nothing really wowed me. Perhaps the secret lies in the 10 course menu, but I don’t think I’ll be rushing back to find out as my bucket list of restaurants to try keeps getting longer!
Our bill came to £190.69 for 6 courses which included service, 2 glasses of (a very nice) English sparkling wine, 3 glasses of (another very nice) English wine and 2 beers.

Until we eat again!

 Square Meal Roganic on Urbanspoon

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