Casual dining from Simon Rogan opposite his 2 Michelin starred flagship L'Enclume
Rogan and Co is a relaxed eatery and a pleasant option for those Simon Rogan die-hard fans that were unable to gain a seat in his 2 Michelin starred L’Enclume (which, sits metres opposite this restaurant). My previous visit here was a bespoke Great British Menu visit from his winning dishes in the 2012 competition and perhaps the series that truly launched Simon Rogan and put him on to the 2 Michelin starred radar for the guide. Now in 2019, the causal Rogan & Co has been awarded its first star and this lunch visit took advantage of his hugely decent value set menu at £24 for 2 courses (£29 for three courses) but I opted for additional canapés on top of 2 courses. This was good cooking, no messing and a down to earth experience. The setting of Cartmel on this sunny day was another lovely twist for this revisit.
I do like the interior of Rogan & Co; not that this makes any difference to the food grade, but it is very nicely done in typical Cumbrian wood-panelled and elegant simplicity. The restaurant has a stream running by just outside for a pre or post-meal walk and the small enclosure of Cartmel should be visited at least once if you are passing anywhere nearby. The village is the home of sticky toffee pudding and fans of this pudding made with dates as the key ingredient can always view this and the endless displays of condiments in the village tourist shops.
I opted for the 2 course set menu with three different canapés before instead. Mental note: you won’t need to order many of these canapés as they are very good value for what portion size you are getting! Mine were cod’s roe on parmesan biscuit (the lemon working well with the cod’s roe), choux buns with caramelised onion and Comte cheese (satisfying, but less cooked choux pastry and more cheese inside would have been welcome) and truffle pudding which was very good. This had the texture of a bread and butter pudding with garlic emulsion blob on top and a savoury custard inside – original and enjoyable.
Home-baked bread from L’Enclume with pasteurised butter and Molden salt was extremely good bread and butter. Another lovely touch was being asked, “Would you like still, sparkling or tap water?”. Restaurants never usually give this third option – they might reason they don’t wish to offer something potentially not clean, but obviously, the loss of the sales will be a significant factor. Not only am I in a country where tap water is perfectly safe to drink, but I was in Cumbria, where you can have a full handful of soapy lather in mere seconds with soap under any tap as the water is that soft, so it is the perfect location to dispense with bottled water. “Tap water please, and a whole load”.
A pleasant celeriac veloute, with apple and brown butter, was the starter. This was very smooth and welcome but the only noticeable decline was that the apple matchsticks lost their citrus power and any form of real crunch the second they were submerged in the veloute shortly after served and became minor texture only. The initial bits were enjoyed but perhaps an additional amount on the side to sprinkle in would be more practical and also be fun for the diner raising this small starter.
Goosnargh chicken with grilled onions & tarragon, vinegar and stout jus and mushroom was the main. This had a lovely aromatic, almost Asian feel to it and the stout jus was excellent. The chicken itself was very good with well-done skin and the classic match of chicken and tarragon coming through nicely. A simple and satisfying dish for a set menu if there ever was one.
By this stage, I realised my greedy mistake on the canapés and didn’t have enough room for dessert so the bill came to £42.90 all in (no drinks) with a chocolate Madelaine to take away. This was another lovely visit to this down to earth drop-in option and I’m pleased it has a Michelin star. It’s debatable how much input Simon Rogan needs to put into this restaurant now that Tom Barnes (formerly of L’Enlcume) is maintaining its existence and popping over the road to keep an eye on L’Enclume as well from time to time (reportedly). Either way, this was a lovely drop in and in some ways, I would actually prefer to come here and keep visits to L’Enlcume to marathon occasions. As the team is essentially the same, the overall food grade is the average of these two visits.
Food Grade: 76%
This was one of the highlights of the year and of the decade so far. Admittedly there was bias before this visit in that I was brimming with excitement to try the Great British Menu dishes Simon Rogan had used for his cards in the 2012 competition for the Olympic Athletes, but I am delighted to say that they were absolutely as good as they were awarded on the TV show by Oliver Paton, Pru Leath and Matthew Fort. I was so happy that the actual outcome was genuinely as good as the scores given on the GBM. The truffle custard underneath the roasted vegetables was sublime and together with the crispiness of the vegetables had managed to change what can and often is a very boring (a simple salad) into something memorable.
The apple jus and pickled beetroot just worked so well with the succulent lobster and the Pork was frankly the best belly of pork I have ever had with its absolutely sumptuous tenderness with delicate and not overdone crispy roasted skin. The cream cheese ice cream was velvet luxury and original and it was so memorable I do not even need to look at any photos from this visit over two years ago to write this as it is so firmly planted in the happy compartment of memories.
The horrible thing to have to admit is that if I had a choice of only one more meal from Cartmel, be it the tasting menu at L’enclume or that GBM menu at Rogans, I would almost certainly choose the latter, however the dishes will undoubtedly have changed since 2012 at Rogan & Co and I look forward to going again whenever one can to gain a more rounded view.
Food Grade: 90%
Location (Click google logo for directions)