Simon Rogan's London-based Michelin starred restaurant
As you would expect from Simon Rogan, he has continued to bring as much of Cumbria with him as he can to his Marylebone-based restaurant, very much as he did when residing over Fera at Claridges. His move from Fera allowed him to concentrate on his own venture of Roganic which has graced him with a new Michelin star for Roganic in the 2019 guide. The style of cooking is unmistakably Rogan with clean, minimalist design and proud use of as many fresh ingredients from Cartmel (in Cumbria) as possible. This was a set menu lunch which ended up being 5 courses for £35 (with no drink) which, is very good value, especially as I was genuinely happy with this lunch. You also get a pleasant going away present as something different.
It wasn’t clear whether Simon Rogan was coming back to London after the closure of his 2-year pop up in Marylebone which started in 2011. The interim saw him maintain his Michelin star at Fera in Claridges and on asking the staff at Roganic what led him to leave Fera, I received slightly evasive answers and a wry smile, so I can only presume it was some fallout with the hotel mixed with a desire to revert to autonomy, but that’s guesswork. But good job he did as his restaurant is now far more accessible immediately off the street in Marylebone Village, one of my favourite areas of London.
This was one of the more novel starts to any entrance of a restaurant I can remember in that instead of a front of house (which was absent) we were in fact greeted by the sight of an electrician’s backside and tools on the floor as he knelt for completing a task (dealing with something in the cloakroom cupboard). After this cracking episode, we were eventually welcomed and taken to our seats. The feel of the restaurant itself is not what I would describe as cosy, but neither is it stuffy or over the top which was a relief.
The menu is changed throughout the week and month and diners are given no menu and a verbal choice of either a set menu of 3, 6 or 8 courses (the price of these menus needed prompting turns out to be £35, £65 or £85). Owing to time, we opted for the 3 course set menu.
The meal started with an apple and pear gel tart with the tartlet itself made from dehydrated pumpkin. So wafer thin were the tartlet cases that they fell apart in your hand but once scooped off the fingers they were washed down with a pumpkin juice. This was a refreshing start but seemed a little out of place to have so much sweet at the same time and at the beginning of the meal, no matter how much zest this has. Bread came served effectively as a course using homemade sourdough with sour butter with sweet oats on top – both of which were excellent products and a clear sign of skill from the kitchen.
The next course comprised of salt-baked celeriac, whey cream and malt crumbs which were all nicely done to support the plump celeriac. A very nicely designed starter with reasonable flavour. The main of dry aged Cumbrian beef came with parsnip puree, honey and garlic gel on top of the glazed onion and a pleasing pot of ox cheek and potato foam in a side pot. This was a great set main, held together with a viscous and deep sauce. Although the portion sizes will always be less than normal on a set menu (reflected in the cost), the cut of beef was succulent and packed with flavour and this was a good dish.
Dessert was pleasing but not as much of a hit in comparison to the other parts of the meal. Compressed pear in discs overlapped a chamomile cream with caramel, verjus dust and pine layer. All these worked together ok and was a pretty looking dessert but was perhaps a little too creamy and one dimensional in texture overall to be a real hit.
Service I have to say could have done with a lot more polish. Apart from the first impressions of our entrance, staff in the main appeared either stretched or strained in the unease and speed of delivering goods to tables combined with not wanting eye contact with guests which happened quite often. As a result, it was quite difficult getting the attention of our waitress in particular, but the senior staff and floor manager seemed to provide an air of calm that was definitely needed. This is very much a restaurant awarded a Michelin star solely for the food which is its strapline (but can very often appear to not be the case).
As time was getting on, tea and petit four had to be foregone, but on leaving we were greeted by a goodie bag of an earl grey tea bag, mini cake and pot of blackberry jam for afternoon tea which I thought was an especially nice touch. These also proved to be an entirely good call on the wet and cold afternoon that it was. Ultimately, this was a good value for money set lunch had in a humble environment and definitely a very good advert of food to make me want to return and try a lengthier meal on next visit.
Food Grade: 78%
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