Roganic review: London restaurant offers glimpses of fantasy

Capital’s newest gateway to the freshest produce available in the city


Chef Simon Rogan has almost been here before. Roganic spent two years as a pop-up a little bit further along Blandford Street in Marylebone before re-emerging as Fera in a far grander location at Claridge’s. Despite being a critical success, it failed to win the hearts of the international clientele and so Rogan departed after three years and is nearly back where he started. It is the second time he has opened in a grand hotel and then closed – the first time was at The French in Manchester’s Midland Hotel.

The Rogan approach is in the same tradition as Michel Bras in central France or Magnus Nilsson in Faviken, northern Sweden – extraordinary seasonal produce, sometimes foraged and usually served with no more than three items on the plate. The ingredients are bold and heart-stoppingly pure and frequently come from Rogan’s farm near Cartmel in Cumbria, home of L’Enclume, his Michelin-starred flagship.

Rogan’s London operation is far more suited to its modest shop front north of Oxford St as this is food for foodies rather than an haute cuisine outpost for wealthy gourmands. The kitchen staff and front of house crew have all been with Simon Rogan for years and have an easy familiarity that exudes friendliness and attention to detail. The tasting menu comprises 18 separate dishes, so inevitably they are usually capable of consumption in one bite.

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The first dish to grab my attention was simply called “raw beef and kohlrabi”. It resembled a steamed dim sum with a spear of pak choi cress stuck in the top like a flag. The genius of this and many of the other dishes is the intensity and balance of the flavours which are harmonious but at the same time individually identifiable – which is no mean feat. Then there were was the pork, eel, and hay cream dish – tiny prickly balls with a dab of cream on top but with an intensity that reduced me to silence.

The most memorable fish dish was flamed cod, leek and smoked roe with wafers on top of the leeks looking like miniature helipads. Next, a chef appeared carrying a whole duck breast resting in a frying pan filled with grass but this was just a tease before it went back into the kitchen to be prepared. It returned as a rectangular portion with perfectly crispy skin adorned with herbs and edible flowers. There is hardly space to do justice to all of the dishes, which progressed over a three-hour period.

Before the puddings began, there was a yellow beetroot sorbet, which was a fascinating taste as well as a perfect palate cleanser. Caramelised apple with Douglas Fir was a tiny circular apple tart with a tear dropped ice cream next to it while coffee was served with a trio of different chocolates each in their own stylish container.

Some food critics have complained about how otherworldly and fiddly the entire experience is – maybe, but there must be space in our lives to be offered glimpses of fantasy, especially when it provides so many extraordinary natural flavours and textures. Because such simplicity takes an enormous amount of preparation and skill, my only concern is if Simon Rogan’s chefs can pull it off when he is not in the kitchen. Any excuse to return.

Roganic, 5 Blandford St, London, W1U 3DB; +44 203 370 626;

Menus from £40 to £115

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