Posts Tagged ‘17/20’

Roganic, London, United Kingdom

July 17, 2011 2 comments

Roganic - Interior

So far this year we have seen the openings of restaurants by a few prominent chefs: first Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, then Pollen Street Social by Jason Atherton, and then in May The Gilbert Scott by Marcus Wareing. And most recently, it’s Simon Rogan (from the Cumbrian one Michelin-starred L’Enclume ) who opened the restaurant Roganic in Marylebone. It’s a two-year “pop-up” restaurant venture – meaning that it will be gone in two years time, when the lease is up.

I knew I would plan to visit this place at some point later on this year, but I certainly did not expect to pay a visit only three weeks after its opening. It was a rainy Saturday, I had not done my food shopping for the weekend, the fridge was completely empty (most unusual) and I just couldn’t be bothered to face fighting my way round the supermarket. So the next hard task was to decide where to go for dinner. I didn’t expect any tables available at Roganic but I thought I’d try my luck anyway – and I was glad to have made the phone call as there was a table for two the same evening.

The restaurant was not huge – seating for approximately 20-25 people. The decor and setting reminded me very much of L’Enclume, and maybe a little bit warmer and more cosy than L’Enclume – but then my last visit to L’Enclume was in November 2010, when Britain was hit by the heavy snowstorm and extreme cold weather.

After ordering some Philipponnat champagne, the amuse-bouche was brought to the table: Rosemary and chickpea with aioli on crisp bread. The vibrant colours certainly made it memorable in terms of presentation, and it tasted just as nice as it looked – the garlic aioli flavour did not overpower the freshness of the other ingredients, and the mouth was left with a surprisingly refreshing aftertaste.

Roganic - Rosemary and Chickpea aioli on crisp bread

Just like L’Enclume, there was a wonderful array of bread. This evening we were presented with potato bread, spelt bread and pumpernickel bread, fresh baking hot from the oven. A massive dollop of butter was placed on the stone on the table – and at first I thought “what a waste of butter”. But then when we tried the butter, we couldn’t get enough of it – the butter was churned to a soft whipped-cream texture at the restaurant, with Maldon salt added to it to give that slight saltiness and crunch.  It was so delicious that we ended up eating 11 bread rolls between us and had a second helping of butter during the whole dinner.

Roganic - Potato, Spelt & Pumpernickel bread Roganic - Butter to die for

The first two courses were broad bean and hyssop, fresh curds and beetroot; and Rubin turnip baked in salt, smoked yolk, sea vegetables and wild mustard. Both courses were so colourful and presented so beautifully that they looked like pieces of art that I could just look at and admire for a long time. In terms of taste, the beetroot and curd in the first course went surprisingly well together. The smokey egg yolk in the second course was cooked perfectly – still warm and slightly runny, and with a very distinctive smokey flavour to it.

Roganic - Broad bean and hyssop, fresh curds and beetrootRoganic - Rubin turnip baked in salt, smoked yolk, sea vegetables and wild mustard

The next course was seawater cured Kentish mackerel, orache, broccoli and warm elderflower honey – the sweetness of the honey balanced well with the oily strong-flavoured fish, which was perfectly cooked. The thinly sliced dried broccoli and the pattern on the plate augmented the look of the dish – it looked as if the fish was swimming in between the coral reefs in the sea.

Roganic - Seawater cured Kentish mackerel, orache, broccoli and warm elderflower honey

At this point I was already impressed with Roganic – I didn’t expect the food to be this good when it’s only opened for three weeks, and the dishes were not that straightforward to put together.

The next course was shredded ox tongue, pickles and sourdough paper – it was interesting, with the ox-tongue that sandwiched between the sourdough paper reminding me of potted meat that I used to have when I was young.

Roganic - Shredded ox tongue, pickles and sourdough paper

The next course was probably the biggest surprise of the evening: flaky Crab and mallow cream, young squid and cucumber. It was refreshing and had a pleasant aroma that transported my mind to the seaside – it was as if I was eating this dish at an open-air restaurant by the sea. The squid ink croutons gave the crunchiness to the perfectly-cooked pieces of crab meat and squid. It was a truly memorable dish.

Roganic - Flaky Crab and mallow cream, young squid and cucumber

The next course was one of the very few dishes that featured on both L’Enclume and Roganic menus: vintage potatoes in onion ashes, lovage and wood sorrel. This was supposedly to be one of the signature dishes, but I must say that I was not that keen on it – as much as I liked onions, the dehydrated onion with the onion oil drizzled around the potatoes was just too strong and had a taste that reminded me of something I was not keen on when I was younger.

Roganic - Vintage potatoes in onion ashes, lovage and wood sorrel

The 7th course of the evening was roasted monkfish, chicken salt, mushroom and fennel leaves. While the monkfish was cooked slight a bit too much, it was made up by the bold and intense flavour of the stock and the salt made from chicken skin. The mushroom puree and the fennel leaves provided another dimension of strong taste to the dish. Overall a combination of flavours that worked well together.

Roganic - Roasted monkfish, chicken salt, cockles and ruby chard

The last savoury course was Cumbrian hogget, artichokes and chenopodiums. A rich flavour of the hogget with the sweetbreads on the dish, but it was just too salty for my liking – to the point where it left a bitter salty taste after finishing the dish (and so thirsty on the way home that I couldn’t stop drinking water).

Roganic - Cumbrian hogget, artichokes and chenopodiums

For the desserts, the first one was sweet ciceley with strawberry, buttermilk and verbena – the macerated strawberries were refreshing (very welcoming after the previous dish) and went well with the strong perfume flavour of the verbena and mint.

Roganic - Sweet ciceley with strawberry, buttermilk and verbena

The finale was warm spiced bread, salted almonds, buckthorn curd, smoked clotted cream – I was dreading this dish because I didn’t like the buckthorn at L’Enclume. Each ingredient on its own sounded (and actually tasted) a bit ghastly, but together they were like match-making in heaven. It was a bit like the magic bacon and egg ice-cream at The Fat Duck. The dish was not too sweet and was a good finish to the meal.

Roganic - Warm spiced bread, salted almonds, buckthorn curd, smoked clotted cream

Afterwards we were brought the Douglas Fir & Pine milkshake with Douglas Fir flapjack. The milkshake was something I had at L’Enclume. The flavour of this one still reminded me of some medicine I had when I was young – but it was not at all unpleasant.

Roganic - Douglas Fir & Pine Milkeshake, Douglas Fir flapjack

To finish off this suprisingly good meal, we ordered some tea that was made specially at the restaurant, using a mixture of verbena, douglas fir, and other herbs. To go with the tea, the petit fours were some mini Victoria sponge cakes topped with raspberries.

Roganic - Petit Fours Victoria sponge with raspberries

On the whole, it was a nice meal – apart from the hogget which was too salty for my taste, the rest of the dishes were nicely flavoured, and there were some very memorable dishes. There’s always going to be a comparison between Roganic and the older brother L’Enclume – while some people might claim that L’Enclume was more adventurous and experimental, personally I found that at Roganic the food was less salty (apart from the hogget), and a slightly warmer decor and service. For Londoners who can’t be bothered to venture all the way up to Lake District, Roganic is certainly a well-worthy alternative. It’s a place I’d certainly be back – now I just need out-of-town visitors to give me my perfect excuse to return to this restaurant in the next two years.

Roganic - Entrance in the evening

Address:  19, Blandford St, London, W1U 3DH , United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0)207 4860380

Opening Hours: Tuesday – Saturday: 12.00pm to 2.30pm; 6.00pm to 9.00pm

Food: 8/10
Ambience: 4/5
Service: 5/5
Total: 17/20 [Based on visit in July 2011 ]

Texture, London, United Kingdom

In the beginning of May, my godparents, Titus and Flora, from Melbourne sent me an e-mail saying that they would be in London at the end of the month and asked me to book a few restaurants for them. As Titus loves his food and he like searching out for good food; while Flora has only got a small appetite, I had to be careful on the choices.  Texture seemed to fit the criteria as I remember from my visit in the summer of 2010 that the meal was not heavy due to the lack of the use of butter or cream in the cooking, and the cooking was exceptional. Luck was on my side also as I managed to secure a table for the Friday evening before the long weekend.

After we settled down at our table, it took us ages to decide what to have. We were debating between the tasting menu and the Scandinavian fish tasting menu first – the former had quail and beef which Flora couldn’t eat, so she was veering towards the fish tasting menu; while Titus was happy with the normal tasting menu. For me, I was actually quite happy with either menus and also a la carte, but I guess the elders always thought that the younger generation (ie me in this case) could eat a lot! Ideally we would have liked to have a mixture of the two tasting menus but the restaurant manager told us that due to the “complexity” of the dishes, the whole table had to take the same tasting menu. Then we spent another ten minutes debating on the a la carte, and finally settled on the Scandinavian fish tasting menu!

The nibbles came soon after we got our aperitifs – a mixture of crisps. The one that got Titus talking was the cod skin crisp, as he didn’t expect to see this in a Western restaurant – and he started telling me about the use of fish skin in various Chinese congees. It didn’t take us long before we finished the whole plate of crisps.

The appetiser was pea mousse and mint “snow” with prawns. It was a very refreshing dish – each mouthful was a delight, with a contrast of the texture of the various ingredients, and the explosion of flavours in the mouth. A very effective palate cleanser.

The next course was smoked organic salmon (graflax) with horseradish. The salmon was lightly cooked and the flesh was still firm, contrasting well with the soft mousse and the crisp bread that accompanied the dish. It was a very promising start, and Titus was already happy.

The next dish was roasted scallops with white asparagus, passion fruit and söl. Another dish that tasted as beautiful as it looked – the scallops were fresh and cooked through nicely, and the use of passion fruit and vinegar lifted the flavour out well. Söl (dulse seaweed) gave the extra interesting dimension to this dish. Another dish that we all enjoyed that we could have easily had second helpings!

The main fish dish was Cornish skate with cod brandade, lemon, radish and garlic oil. There was a generous serving of fish on this dish, and once again the fish was fresh and perfectly cooked. I love brandade, and this went well with the rest of the dish. Titus was somewhat surprised by the high quality here, and I explained that not many London restaurants (even the seafood ones) could cook fish to this standard.

Pre-dessert was sorrel sorbet with muscadet mousse – another very refreshing and effective palate cleanser. It was so nice that Titus said that he could easily have had four of these!

The dessert was something I was not so keen on when I saw the menu – Valrhona white chocolate mousse, ice-cream with dill and cucumber. Not being a big fan of white chocolate, I thought I’d struggle even when it’s Valrhona chocolate, as many restaurants ended up with very sweet white chocolate desserts. So I was pleasantly surprised when the dessert not only looked nice, but tasted absolutely wonderful, without being too sweet. The various textures of the ingredients (from the silky softness of the foam, to the soft mousse, moving to the slightly harder ice-cream and cucumber cubes, all the way to the sprinkling of the nuts on the plate) worked so well together – it was a perfect way to end the meal.

On the whole the meal was just how I remembered it from last year – the ingredients were of a high quality and the cooking was beautifully executed, and the meal was filling but light. The lack of use of butter and cream-based sauces really helped in letting the ingredients speak for themselves. This was the exact reason why my godparents and I enjoyed the meal so much – there’s nothing that beat fresh ingredients, rather than disguising the inferior quality food in some heavy sauces.

Address: 34 Portman Street, London, W1H 7BY, United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7224 0028
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Saturday: Lunch 12:00-14:30 ; Dinner 18:30-23:00

Food: 9/10
Ambience: 4/5
Service: 4/5
Total: 17/20 [Based on visit in May 2011]

Dinings, London, United Kingdom

Last week I paid another visit to Dinings, the small Japanese restaurant opened by ex-Nobu chef and tucked away on a quiet street in Marylebone in London. My colleague from the States is a real sushi fan, and after taking her to Sushi-Hiro in Ealing last time, I had a difficult task to impress her with another good sushi eatery.

On a previous visit I had the tar-tar chips, essentially mini taco chips filled with avocado, crab or salmon, and with a spicy mayonnaise or creamy jalapeno sauce. This time I recommended it to my colleague, even though it’s not really my favourite but I can see why it’s special and the westerners would like it.

We ordered a variety of sushi, some from the menu and some from the specials board. One of the specials was the seabass sushi topped with cherry blossom salt – no need to dip in any soy sauce. It was delicious – the freshness of the fish combined with the delicate taste of the salt worked magic. Another special that we ordered was sea urchin with poached quail egg sushi – never in a million year would I think to combine these 2 ingredients together, but the flavour of the sea urchin blended in so well with the sweetness and gooeyness of the quail egg. It’s genius! My colleague opted to leave the best till last, and that was a bad mistake – when the quail egg had gone cold, that wow factor disappeared. We tried to order a second round (I was that impressed with it that I didn’t mind someone else coming up with an excuse to have another one) but, alas, they ran out of quail eggs and it’s no longer available.

We also had the spider (soft shell crab) rolls – the soft shell crab was nice and crispy. We also opted for my usual favourite salmon skin sushi roll.

As if that wasn’t enough, we also ordered some nasu miso (miso-grilled aubergine) – it was perfectly cooked and the flavour was just right. We also ordered grilled rasor clams with asparagus – that was delicious also. I deliberately chose not to order the black cod as the one i had in the previous visit was a bit disappointing – I think the use of chilli in cooking the black cod didn’t really bring out the flavour.

On the whole, we had a really enjoyable visit. My colleague was trying to find the words to describe the food here, and in the end we agreed that “taste sensation” summed the meal up pretty accurately.


Address: 22 Harcourt Street, London, W1H 4HH , United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7723 0666

Opening Hours: Monday-Friday 12pm-3pm, 6pm-11pm;  Saturday-Sunday 6pm-11pm

Food: 9/10
Ambience: 4/5
Service: 4/5
Total: 17/20 [Based on visit in February 2010 ]