Archive

Posts Tagged ‘London’

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
Website: www.roganic.co.uk

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 ]

At Siam, London, United Kingdom

Originally I was meant to be going into Soho for a quick fix of my sushi craving on a weekday evening with Russell. Then we thought that since it’s early maybe we could get a table at Arbutus without reservation. But as we walked down Soho Square, he said “Oh there’s this new Thai restaurant on Frith Street, shall we go and have a look?” – so somehow a last-minute joint decision meant that we ended up at At Siam (@Siam)!

We were greeted by the staff as soon as we stepped through the door, even though the restaurant already had quite a few customers. The decor was less traditional Thai, but more modern design with a hint of Thai incorporated. The menu was not huge but there were more than enough dishes for us to exercise our brains in choosing.

Our starter was Ruam Mittr, an assorted selection of Thai appetisers with salad. I was surprised by the generous portion, with no less than 8 pieces of the corn fritters for a start – do they somehow know that I just love corn fritters? The yam spring rolls were interesting enough. The chicken satays did not have enough spices in the marinade, resulting in a more bland taste. The prawns and salad on the lettuce leaves tasted good and refreshing.

As soon as we finished the platter, we were presented with Yum Pu Nim Tod Krob, which was the battered soft shell crab with chilli jam and mixed vegetable salad. Maybe it would have worked better with the soft shell crab on top of the salad, with the chilli jam on the side, as the batter was rather soggy when we had it. Still, the salad was itself was good, with more unexpected ingredients like pear and pomegranates.

We had two main courses to share: Kae Padd Prik Thai Dum (stir-fried lamb with black peppers and Thai seasoning) and Gaeng Phed Ped Yang (roast duck red curry with lychees and pineapples). Both were nicely flavoured, without the spices being too over-powering. With the sticky rice to accompany these two dishes, there was no leftover.

 

On the whole this was a welcoming addition to the Thai restaurant brigade in Soho – I more or less gave up eating Thai food in Soho with the demise of Sri Siam and then Thai Pavilion quite a few years ago… But maybe now there’s one that I can go to again.

Address: 43 Frith Street, Soho, London, W1D 4SF, United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7494 4511
Website: www.atsiam.co.uk

Opening Hours: Daily: 12.00pm to 3.00pm; 5.30pm to 11.00pm

Food: 7/10
Ambience: 3/5
Service: 4/5
Total: 14/20 [Based on visit in June 2011]

da Polpo, London, United Kingdom

At the rate the team behind Polpo opens new restaurants in the West End, I would not have thought of going to their 4th restaurant da Polpo so soon after its official opening. I love Polpo: every time I take someone there, it never disappoints. I was slightly less impressed with Polpetto last time I went – it was not just me; my friend Axel who went to Polpo with me on a previous occasion agreed that Polpetto was good, but just not as good as Polpo.

I met up with Priya on this sunny Friday in the West End for lunch, and originally I was thinking of going to Polpo again; but then I thought – let’s risk da Polpo and see what it’s like in its first week.

The first thing that I liked about da Polpo was that it’s light and spacious – unlike the somewhat darker look of Polpo and the crammed dining area in Polpetto. The menu looked somewhat familiar, with some dishes at the other restaurants also. Service was attentive, and we got our drinks and the free focaccia (that’s fresh and delicious) promptly.

Choosing the dishes was not so easy – not because there’s not enough to choose from, but it’s more like how to be sensible and not over-order, with so many choices in front of us. I would have been quite happy to close my eyes and just point randomly!

The two potato and Parmesan crochettas came first to fill the two empty stomachs. They were crispy on the outside with a very smooth, slightly runny and piping hot mashed potatoes inside. Probably amongst some of the best croquettes that I have ever had.

The next two dishes arrived simultaneously – the fragrance was already showing promising signs even before tasting. The tasty lamb and mint meatballs, with a tomato-based sauce, were of a generous portion, and I could have eaten anoter place of this without any hesitation. The chilli and garlic prawns were good too, though I would have prefer the prawns a bit larger.

As it’s still the asparagus season, we thought it would be a good idea to order the grilled asparagus, buttered eggs and Parmesan. Again it’s a generous portion and the combination was simple but effective.

To finish off the meal, we had the affogato al caffe – again just something simple but satisfying.

It was a very nice lunch, and considering that the restaurant was new, it had certainly made an excellent start. The only downside I can see with this place is that, because of its high quality of cooking, popular location of Covent Garden and good value for money, da Polpo would be as successful as its siblings, if not more, in the future, and this means that it would be difficult to get in at mealtimes!

Address:  6 Maiden Lane, London, WC2E 7NA , United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7836 8448
Website: www.dapolpo.co.uk/

Opening Hours: Monday-Saturday: 12.00pm to 11.30pm

Food: 8/10
Ambience: 4/5
Service: 4/5
Total: 16/20 [Based on visit in June 2011]