Sunday, 17 July 2011


I wasn't going to write about Roganic; every man and their dog has written about it so far so what more can I add to it? But there were some flashes of jaw-dropping brilliance, so here we are. I was lucky enough to be treated to lunch there on a rainy Saturday and upon arrival, the decor was startling; I was expecting a bright, carpeted room, and I got a small room with stark, dark furnishings. Open for only two years, this is Simon Rogan's (of L'Enclume, oop North) London outpost. We kicked off with an apricot vodka drink, expressed from a cream canister that was reviving and sprightly. Fritters adorned with flowers accompanied it. We opted for the 10 course blow-out lunch (there are 6 and 3 courses available) at £80.

The menu was peppered with words I didn't recognise, such as hyssop; a type of herb with a slight minty flavour. Visually a delight, the flavours of the beetroot, broadbean and curd were simple and refreshing.

Scarlet ball turnip was baked in ash and served with a smoked egg yolk. Sunshine-yellow, the smokiness of the yolk could be smelled as soon as the plate arrived. The velvet texture of the yolk married well with strands of crunchy samphire and soft turnip. Our lovely and knowledgeable waiter was only too happy to explain the technicalities of the dish.

Seawater cured Kentish mackerel had a crisp skin, as it should do. Broccoli was dehydrated and pureed; Regent's Park elderflower honey drizzled about the plate seemed strange, but in fact brought it all together nicely.

Shredded ox tongue was served sandwiched between two sourdough crisps, and reminded me rather of a Viajante dish. When eaten with the blobs of cauliflower puree, the combination of lightly pickled vegetables and the ox tongue reminded me of Heinz's sandwich spread. I love that stuff.

Flaked crab was served atop cubes of compressed cucumber and raw cubes of squid. The dark bits are squid ink croutons, allowing some crunch within the slightly slimy soft bites. Mallow cream, another new one on me, sauced the dish nicely. It became evident that Roganic's people are quite the foragers.

Heritage potatoes with onion ash, lovage and wood sorrel was a hefty number. While the potatoes and onion ash were delicious, the heavy tread of the lovage came stomping through it, spreading it's medicinal, acid flavour over everything and lingering on far more than it was welcome.

Roasted brill with chicken salt and clams was the first course to make me go "oooooh!" delightedly. The fish was served with a cracked wheat crust which had been soaked in rich chicken stock and then roasted and the plate delivered an aroma like that of your kitchen on a Sunday when roasting a chicken. Intensely savoury, the fish flaked apart beautifully. Dabs of mushroom puree were insanely rich, but well matched with the fish itself.

Cumbrian hogget with sweetbreads, artichoke and chenopodiums (I know - eh?) was another masterpiece. The nugget of hogget was pink within and the sweet, fluffy sweetbreads were pillow-soft and mellow. Chenopodiums are in fact the leaf on the plate; they taste much like spinach.

With most of the menu done, we were offered cheese; naturally this led to a hot debate on cheese before or after pudding. I won, and we selected a few English cheeses and a stinky Irish from the cheeseboard. Served with excellent crackers and a tart gooseberry and celery relish, these hit the spot nicely.

Our first dessert was strawberry glass with sweet cicely, buttermilk and verbena. This was one of my favourite courses of the meal. The sweet ciceley is the green liquid; slightly aniseed in flavour, it went brilliantly with the macerated strawberries and the strawberry glass. The buttermilk was like a sort of pannacotta, lending creaminess to the plate. Upon enquiring, we were brought a stalk of sweet cicely to satisfy the curiosity.

The highs of the last dish made the crashing low of the next only too evident. Spiced warm brioche with smoked clotted cream, salted almonds an buckthorn curd is apparently a Marmite dish; you either love it or hate it. I hated it. It tasted disturbingly of bacon and though I love the pig, I did not love it in dessert form.

How appropriate, then, that the final offering should boggle my mind so. A Douglas Fir milkshake with flapjack has the rare quality of being able to make me giggle delightedly; it tasted like Christmas! Woody pine flavoured the sweet milk and if I was wanky enough to have closed my eyes while supping on it I'd have imagined myself in a forest.

Teeny tiny fairy cakes topped with a raspberry accompanied coffee, and off we toddled back out into the rain. I felt thoroughly well looked after - at no point did any of the waiting staff or manager seem harried, but they were personable and answered our many questions patiently. I didn't enjoy every course I had, but they were all an education. Though 10 courses seemed a lot, we found portion sizing perfect, and it never became overwhelming. That said, I still fell asleep on the tube.


19 Blandford Street
London W1U 3DH

Tel: 0207 4860380

Roganic on Urbanspoon


Anabol DianaBol said...

I love Roganic and always try to visit it when I'm in London. The difference London has made in the last 5 years food wise is startling. I usually travel alone so the only thing missing at Roganic is good company. I admit a 10 corse meal gets boaring if you sit it out alone.

Anabol Dianabol

Anonymous said...

I literally cannot wait to try this restaurant. I was re-watching The Trip and L'Enclume looked amazing too, so glad he's opened somewhere in London too.

J Roberts said...

How does one smoke an egg yolk?

Anonymous said...

Smoked clotted cream? Sounds bonkers. That said, I absolutely can't wait to try out Roganic - have read so many wonderful reviews. Just another one to add to the list...

Kavey said...

Must. Visit.

n said...

I had to turn down lunch reservations that were going unclaimed by a colleague due to financial reasons. After reading your post I'm even sadder about not going - looks LOVELY!

Unknown said...

Lovely write-up as ever Lizzie, but I have to be honest and say that if I (or my host) was forking out £80 before even a drop of liquor had passed my lips, I would want *every* course to make me go "Ooooh!", or at least "Mmmm". I think there's a dazzling chutzpah at play here, giving diners no choice and then serving up some downright obscure ingredients in (at times) wacky combinations, rather than coming up with something which will challenge the adventurous palate but is likely to genuinely delight.

But ultimately that's not the restaurant's fault; if you build it they will come and all that.

Moan over - glad you (mostly) enjoyed it!

Hollow Legs said...

Anabol - I can't imagine 10 courses on my own.

Eats - Ah, i never watched The Trip! I will look it up.

J Roberts - The drizzle the yolk with smoke oil and then seal it in a vacuum and cook it in a water bath.

Little Loaf - Bonkers it was. My friend loved it though.

Kavey - definitely.

nancy - that's a shame; I had to do the same with Dinner. Maybe the cheaper 3 course menu?

Hugh - miraculous would be the place that was able to make 10 courses to delight every single person that darkened the door. I enjoyed the obscure ingredients and I didn't feel like they were being used to challenge rather than pleasure. I don't begrudge the courses I didn't enjoy; they were interesting, at least.

Anonymous said...

This is not a review, this is a series of pictures.

Hollow Legs said...

Thanks for your observation, Anon - though I never claimed it was a review.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting subject , thankyou for posting .

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

If the oxtail tasted even half as good as Viajante's , it was worth the trip !

Hollow Legs said...