For those who might not be familiar with Simon Rogan or his food, Simon is the chef-owner of Michelin starred L'enclume in Cumbria. We were lucky enough to eat at L'enclume earlier this year on two consecutive nights and were dazzled by how original and satisfying Simon's food is. Accordingly, when we heard that Simon was opening a restaurant in London, we were thrilled.
Those who have visited L'enclume in the past year or two will find much that is familiar at Roganic, not least the tables and chairs, which have been shipped down from the restaurant in Cumbria. The idea, philosophy and concept is the same as L'enclume too, with no a la carte menu but a choice of tasting menus (here five or ten courses). There is also some overlap on suppliers and even one dish (vintage potatoes) that has made the journey south intact.
But while the food offers similar levels of sophistication to L'enclume, Roganic offers as a restaurant an understandably more youthful experience with a vibrant front of house team in Jon Cannon, Sandia Chang and Jack Settle who all bring vivacious personalities and genuine enthusiasm to the establishment. The wine list too reflects a biodynamic philosophy (so no crusty old Bordeaux here) and was excellently paired to the food by Sommelier Zsolt Kismodi. In the kitchen meanwhile, Head Chef Ben Spalding is one of the UK's major young talents and seems to enjoy a real synergy with Simon Rogan, leaving us unable to identify dishes as either Simon's or Ben's, rather, the kitchen offers the diner a seamless tasting experience.
We start with a canape: pea and bacon tart with fresh garlic mayonnaise and cress. We also have their wonderful selection of breads that are baked fresh each day on site and include the pumpernickel that is simply loved by Mrs CC. Throughout the meal, such as these breads, it is the know how and skill that has been exported from L'enclume that means that despite being open only a week, the food ideas are already known to work and deliver instantly a Michelin star worthy experience.
The Beetroot foam to start is refreshing but is not one of those 'light as air' foams that offers little by way of impact, rather, the foam here refreshes the mouth but also offers real texture and flavour. Next, the smoked egg yolk (cooked at 63 degrees for 30 minutes) has the most remarkable texture, gel like that both allows it to be cut and portioned but that locks in the smoky yolk flavour. We enjoyed a similar yolk on a different plate at L'enclume and loved seeing it again here.
The Kent mackerel is excellent and the honey adds a lovely a sweet sticky touch. The Ox tongue in duck fat that follows is sublime. There's so much attention given to each dish and here, amongst the carefully thought out veg, a cauliflower puree is a star in its own right, even if here it is just a little taster on the plate.
The brill is also excellent, the chicken salt covering fantastic for taste and texture, again a fish dish that differentiates Ben/Simon's offering from the commonplace. Indeed, it is true to say we have never had a commonplace dish cooked by Simon Rogan.
We were also lucky enough to get a taste of the pearl barley risotto which was recommended to us by theskinnybib. This normally resides on the vegetarian menu and is worth checking out if you can.
This is already a remarkably accomplished restaurant despite still being in its first week. It imports the flavour and genius of Simon Rogan's L'enclume to London yet already has achieved its own identity. But what is so wonderful about Roganic is that it delivers food of a type and quality that can be found nowhere else in London making it a truly special dining experience, totally fresh and full of joy.
Roganic, like L'enclume, celebrates food. The tasting menu concept also works to its strength because Simon understands tasting menus so well: i) portion sizes are balanced so leaving you feeling full but not bloated, ii) the menu has a natural flow like a well crafted story, and iii) each and every plate has a little piece of genius contained on it, you're never once left wondering what was the point of that dish, nothing here is merely a filler. The result is a great food experience, a meal to be relished, not just eaten. And because each plate delights, there's also anticipation and excitement about what you don't know, the courses yet to come.
We are excited about the future too because at Roganic, the menu is never static because the seasons change and so what's properly available to use in the kitchen also changes. Simon and Ben anticipate that in six weeks times, the menu will also therefore have entirely changed, and that just makes us excited to return which we certainly will.
We love L'enclume and now we love Roganic; for anyone else who loves food, Roganic is simply a must.
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Related posts: Lenclume part 1
Related posts: L'enclume part 2