Simon Rogan may not be the household name that Heston is (you know you’ve really arrived when you can be abbreviated to just your prénom), but in foodie circles he’s widely regarded as the somewhat undersung, superior king of post-molecular gastronomy. His celebrity status has been assured via the starring role his restaurant L’Enclume had in the Steve Coogan movie The Trip, and his own starring role in the Olympic series of the Great British Menu. Still, the only place you can taste his largely British-sourced, frequently foraged-together food outside of Cumbria is at this not-quite-pop-up (there’s a two-year lease) in a stark, pleasingly Amish room in Marylebone. If you haven’t been and you genuinely care about food, you should forget about all that no-reservations small-plate toss elsewhere in the capital and book in right now for the 10-course tasting menu. This is grown-up, clever, revelatory cooking, accompanied by amiable and attentive service. There are fireworks, but no gimmicks.
You don’t have to spend three hours or more and £80 on 10 courses. But if you do, you can opt for vegetarian or carnivorous. There are also three and six course options (£29 and £55 – but not Friday/Saturday, when it’s 10 courses or no dice). We went for lunch, had 10 plates with a few bits and bobs, and skipped dinner. Not that it’s a leaden, bloating experience at all, it’s more the case that finishing lunch shortly before 5pm doesn’t leave time to get your appetite back for the evening.
Each dish is a work of art, and the attention to mouth feel is as acute as it is to taste and colour. The cheese drops on the burnt cream of English mushrooms with young shoots had a wonderful, soft chew about them. A carrot dumpling dish with spring broth had a pleasing gel aspect to it. Then there are the flavours – the truffle custard with grilled salad leaves (yes, THAT salad from the Great British Menu) is a knock out. And the vanilla and citrus flavours on the monkfish create a beautiful balance. The coal oil on an ox tongue dish tasted strongly of… coal. And was as wonderful as it was unusual. A pudding with sweet cheese, water celery, artichoke and malt was, essentially, a rather fabulous, sophisticated, deconstructed cheesecake.
So – are there any low points? Well – plenty of regulars have gone into raptures about the bread. But as someone who only splurges on carbs if they’re really worth it… we didn’t think they were. And then at the end of it all there was a doughnut with a rowan berry milk shake (poisonous unless you know which bit to harvest, apparently) that was a bit duff. But everything in between was a fantasia of fine dining at its most modern, most beautiful and most delicious. We can’t wait to go back and eat it all again...
The ELLEuk Score
Style of food: Contemporary British
Good for: Special occasion; first date; romantic
Prices and Other Details at Roganic
Address: 19 Blandford Street, London W1U 3DH
Opening times: Tue-Sat 12pm-2.30pm; 6pm-9pm
Average price per person for two-course meal without wine: £29 for three courses; £55 for six courses; £80 for 10 courses.
Price per bottle of house wine: £28 (white – Sauvignon Blanc, Boer & Brit 'Gezina'); £38 (red – Sudtiroler Lagrein, Weingut Niklas, Alto Adige)
Price of glass of house wine: £6 (white); £6.50 (red)
Price of bottle of house champagne: Roganic serves Chapel Down Pinot Brut Reserve (£59)
Price of glass of house champagne: Price of glass of house Champagne: £12 (as above)
Private dining: No
Garden/al fresco dining? No
Best table? The very front, window table during the day and the furthest back in the evening.
Who goes? Serious foodies
Nearest tube: Baker Street/Bond Street