Roganic: Best of BritishPosted: June 24, 2012
The unfortunate thing about living right around the corner from Simon Rogan’s Roganic is that, because it’s so close by, I kept putting off my visit. Before I knew it, almost a year had gone by without me dining at the most talked about quasi pop-up restaurant in London. After reading yet another positive review, I bit the bullet and booked a table at the beginning of April. Two days before my reservation, as a punishment for my procrastination, it was announced that head chef Ben Spalding was departing. Boo. Spalding has garnered nothing but critical acclaim from those who know food far better than I, has worked at many world famous establishments and is still well under the age of 30.
ILFF and I arrived early for our 6.30 reservation and were the first ones in the restaurant. The decor is minimalist. No point kitting out a restaurant you’ll only be in for two years, right? I loved the ambience. It was upscale, but relaxed and unpretentious. The concept is natural British food, and as Spalding puts it in his LinkedIn profile, unique and quirky ingredients prepared and served in a groundbreaking way. I’ll say now that Roganic more than exceeded my already high expectations and I am already thinking about my next trip.
In keeping with the British theme, as an apertif, I was offered a glass of English sparkling wine. From Kent. Putting aside any preconceived notions we may have had, ILFF and I had a glass each and actually rather enjoyed it. Lord Sugar was on to something in this year’s Apprentice! We eagerly started our 6 (more like 10 with all of the little extras) course tasting menu.
Amuse bouche: Corned beef croquette
Bread and butter
I realise you aren’t supposed to fill up on bread at a restaurant but good God, this was excellent bread. The Irish soda bread in particular was my favourite.
Poached and grilled King Oyster mushrooms, endive, beetroot, and lichen
Portland razor clams flavoured with wild fennel, squid toast and brown butter
Spring leek, rosemary, shallot and bacon sauce
Lemon sole cooked in chicken fat, celeriac, British Queen and shrimp butter
Veal breast glazed with birch sap, parsnip, scurvy grass and smoked rhubarb
Whipped brown cheese, bran flakes, lemon balm and roasted carrot sorbet
ILFF nudged me as soon as he heard the word carrot when our server described the dessert and gave me a pointed look. Just a few months before, we had had the (mostly) pleasurable experience of dining at Noma in Copenhagen with one small blip; the dessert of carrots and sea buckthorn. I thought our meal thus far had been too good to be true and I braced myself for the inevitable.
How mistaken I was. It was delightful. Only mildly sweet with just the right amount of richness, my favourite sort of dessert. As if on cue, ILFF noticed that one of the sous-chefs who we had met at Noma (though not the one responsible for the carrot dessert, unfortunately for the purposes of irony) arrive for a meal.
All in all, it was a fantastic and well thought-out meal, reasonably priced by London standards with the 6-course menu priced £55/head and the 10-course at £80/head. I liked that each dish was truly separate from one another with distinct flavours and ingredients but all managed to complement one another. I can’t imagine the amount of thought and work necessary in putting together a menu like this, but I am thankful I was able to experience it!