19 Blandford Street, London W1U 3DH
020 7486 0380
I love going to Marylebone. There is something very feminine about the High St and the roads that criss-cross it, the way it nestles between the commercial vigour of the Marylebone Road to the north and the retail horror of Oxford St to the south. The shops are like the well-heeled women who inhabit this oasis of metropolitan charm, good looking with well maintained interiors and an understated and individual chic.
Amongst all this good taste sits Roganic, the clever, creative country cousin who has come to London to make her mark. With dark wood floors and Farrow & Ball walls, Roganic is the London outpost of l’Enclume, chef Simon Rogan’s Lake District restaurant with rooms, that has won much critical acclaim. The London iteration is officially classified as a pop-up as they are a year into a two-year lease but Rogan clearly has plans to remain a presence on the London scene for a while to come. The food is seasonal and modern European in conception with many of the ingredients being sourced on Rogan’s farm and is based around a series of six tasting menus, 3 course, 6 course and 10 course, vegetarian and not, priced at £29, £55 and £80 respectively. The room is small though not oppressive, only taking up to 24 covers at a time, and the clientele speak in the hushed tones that mark out a certain type of pleasure-seeking gastronome with the efficient and personable front of house team delivering a succession of intriguing plates creating a journey that is almost sexual in its arc -though not quite. Roganic is more like a British take on chef Pascal Barbot’s boutique Parisian gastro-joint L’Astrance rather than any of the more recent London openings, eschewing the grandiose or fun for a more serious playfulness and as such is very much indicative of the diversity of the contemporary scene.
Having opted for the six course menu, my dining companion and I, Fiona from www.london–unattached.com, were presented with the restaurant’s opening gambit, a creme fraiche and dill cream on a parmesan crisp. This was pleasant if unremarkable and followed by a smoked eel and pork croquant which had more body and intensity.
At this point the bread arrived: Pumpernickel, Soda with oats and Cumin and thyme. All three were freshly baked, with good texture and taste and accompanied by butter from Wardale farm in Lake District that had been whipped to within an inch of its life for additional lightness.
To drink we ordered a bottle of Vadiaperti Greco di Tufo priced at £30. The Greco di Tufo grape creates the best white wines in Campania in southern Italy and the Vadiaperti come from vineyards in the picturesque Montefusco countryside, 600 m above sea-level, just inland from the Amalfi Coast. The wine has lemon and almond notes with a hint of minerality coming from the volcanic legacy in the soil.
The Carrot puree with pickled celery and basil is one of the best dishes I have had this year. An intensive carrot foam bringing out the sweetness of the carrots set off by the crunch of pickled celery. This dish came from one of Roganic’s vegetarian menus and there is also a meat version that incorporates ham fat into the dish. The vegetarian menus are a feature of Roganic and make no compromise in quality of either the conception or the delivery of the dish.
The mushroom broth had a deliciously rich umami flavour. The Enoki mushrooms were pickled in sugar and vinegar and the buffalo curd added a creaminess to a dish that combined a sensuous mouth feel with a satisfying layering of flavours.
The seared scallop was a stunningly presented plate combining the richness of a perfectly cooked bivalve offset by the gentle ozone tang of the oyster emulsion and the crunch of the apple in the dressing.
Lemon Sole can be bland but this was full of flavour and given a hint of the Mediterranean with the unusually half-dried San Marzano tomatoes. The dish sat on a bed of buckwheat, blanched, pan fried then toasted for added crunch.
Steamed and Roasted Cauliflower was another beautifully composed dish, decorated with elderflowers it sets the richness of a roast cauliflower purée against the sweetness of a strawberry sauce and the aniseed of baby fennel.
Because six courses wasn’t really enough we opted for the additional cheese plate at £10. Served with oatcakes and fennel and cumin water biscuits, the cheeses were a Chilcote, Flower Marie, Waterloo, Coulee and Tamworth. The Flower Marie needed to be a lot riper but apart from that the cheeses were well kept.
This was simply beautiful, sweet, gentle and a delicate mix of textures.
This was a miss for me. I’m not sure why pine has come to the fore recently. It was too powerful a note at this point in the meal.
An enjoyable end to a very fine meal.
Simon Rogan and Andy Tomlinson who is running the London kitchen for him are offering very serious cooking which has a deftness and lightness of touch and establishes them at the forefront of London’s fine dining options.