So what can I say about Roganic that hasn’t already been said? Simon Rogan and young gun Ben Spalding, who at 24 must be one of the most precociously talented chefs in the world, have joined forces to open up a restaurant in his name down south. This is L’Enclume styled food in London with Ben’s own imprint on the food that comes out. I’ve never had the pleasure of visiting L’Enclume but it needs no introduction, a restaurant that has made a rather sizeable imprint on what British cooking can be and immortalized in one of my favourite series of last year, The Trip.
So Ben and Simon have come together and set up Roganic, a rather heavy pun if you ask me, but there you go. It is a here in London for two years, seeing out the lease on Michael Moore’s place and is therefore, technically, a “pop up” but I wouldn’t pay much heed to that. With about 25 covers in a pretty small space, Roganic still seems airy and full of light. Décor is minimal and it seems everyone has hit their head on the low slung lamp shades but it has a warm feel to it and an even warmer welcome from a front of house who all seem to be genuinely enthralled in the food they are serving and extremely happy to talk about it.
We were offered a chance of either a 6 course or 10 course taster menu and it being a lazy Saturday afternoon we hesitated for a mili-second and opted for the 10 courser.
The first thing presented to us was a sign of things to come; a beautifully presented puree of cucumber on an edible flower, this really tasted as beautiful as it looks. This was followed up by the famous Roganic bread that comes out as fresh and light as you can get with some delightfully rich and soft homemade butter that you had to stop yourself from finishing entirely by constantly reminding yourself there was a lot of eating still to go.
First thing out of the door was poached lamb tongue that came in a tomato and dill “custard”. This was more of a jelly really. The textures of this were as un familiar as they were rich, the tomato was bursting with flavour but was tempered by the meaty flavour of the lamb. I’ve never really had anything like it but it was a great way to start things off; light but meaty with tomato bringing a real freshness.
Next up was a good old fashioned fried egg and mushroom but with a couple of nice touches added in. Samphire seems to suddenly be the new hip thing to put on everything but with good reason; it has a lovely salty flavour to it that complimented the egg well. I liked this dish a lot but it was probably one of the least adventurous courses and a little boring.
Another ingredient that seems to be on every menu at the moment, and again with good reason, is mackerel, and this is what followed. One of my favourite fish, this was cooked beautifully and served up with broccoli and honey. The honey was an interesting addition and added an interesting aspect to a fish I know so well, this was a simple but well thought out dish that went down really well.
What followed was probably one of my favourites of the whole meal; pig and smoked eel in breadcrumbs served with corn. The smokiness of the eel really shown through and the flavour of the corn was literally bursting off the plate. It looked so simple but had so many different things going on I thought my mouth was exploding. It was easily one of the best things I’ve eaten this year.
Grilled langoustine with purple berries followed and was another lesson in clean, simple cooking, all the different components coming together to create a truly delicious dish that was wolfed down eagerly.
We then had a break from the fish and went on to another modern twist on an old British favourite; roast chicken. However in place of the chicken we had royal kidneys in clam juice gravy and chicken fat, this was so so good, reminding me of Sunday nights and home cooking.
The final fish dish was skate belly and scallops with leeks that wasn’t necessarily the most inventive dish but was put together expertly and gave you exactly what you hoped it would. The final savoury was the rose veal with cabbage puree that I was so eager to get my chops round I forgot to photograph it, a nice meaty way to end the savoury.
At this point with the 8 courses down you would have thought that we were beginning to flag but it is a credit to the food that while we were definitely heading towards a full stomach we were ready for a little more.
The two puddings that followed finished things off wonderfully. The bilberrie with iced lemon thyme was light as air and cleaned the palate perfectly before the final pudding. This was a deconstructed pear crumble with white chocolate sorbet that, again, blew me away.
I realize that this review is probably a little sycophantic but I really mean every word. The cooking at Roganic is as good as I have in London. It is beautifully presented and every plate came out smelling amazing. Before you even tasted the food you could smell all the flavours coming off the plate, it really was awesome. I’m glad the menu changes every couple of weeks because I’m coming back soon, if you haven’t been yet then go and check it out. You’ve only got 18 months left!