While much ink has, and will continue to be splashed in explaining the remarkable food served at L'enclume, part of it surely lies in the paradox between the honesty of local ingredients, many from their own farm just up the road, and the cutting edge cooking techniques often employed including the use of centrefuges, blast chillers, low pressure evaporators etc such that the food is not only beyond the realm of the home cook, it's beyond the grasp of many a professional chef also. And as one veteran two star chef said to us the other day, Simon's grasp of ingredients is utterly remarkable, perhaps the best of any chef in the country. Mark Birchall meanwhile continues to head up the kitchen and most of the dishes, while unmistakably L'enclume, are new to us despite having eaten there several times previously. And though the menu extends to 20 odd courses, you always feel that the L'enclume team have many more ideas than a single menu permits and it remains a hub of fertile energy.
The form of the meal will be familiar to all fans of Rogan's food, ten or so canape style bites including the remarkable oyster pebbles, a fantastically indulgent smoked eel with ham fat and a full on ragout of pigeon offal. In the larger savouries, there's the cod 'yolk', the Westcombe (cheese) dumplings that seem to get better every time, venison in charcoal oil, a signature dish now surely, as well as a fish 'main' of butter poached brill with razor clams and a meat 'main' of aged Dexter, cabbage, mushrooms, salsify and dittander. And if you like desserts, there's six of those, though don't expect any chocolate, rather, pear, quince, blackberries, meadowsweet and even celeriac, something only they can get away with. L'enclume offers a menu that in our view is unique in many aspects, even among Michelin starred tasting menus.
L'enclume is our favourite restaurant in the UK and the food there is, in our opinion, without doubt three star. Technically excellent, always surprising, humourous, innovative, wide ranging and let's be clear on this, unfailingly enjoyable to eat. For only a few lucky people is L'enclume close by, but no matter how far it is from where you live, L'enclume is always worth the journey.