Monday, 1 August 2011


i made my reservation for lunch at the roganic as soon as they were ready to take reservations. in fact, because its opening ran behind schedule, my initial reservation had to be changed as it clashed with my work trip to sydney. the day of our lunch arrived and it turned out to be a beautiful hot summer day. roganic's location in marylebone village means that once you leave baker street there is relative calm and peace.

the space itself is quite small but well utilised. the colours remind one of a spring garden. light coloured wood, an apple green facade, three quarter glass windows let natural light filter through and the etched capital r is surrounded by tendrils, leaves and flowers. o and i were seated near the windows allowing us to peak out into the street. insofar as the food blogosphere is concerned, the world and it's aunt has written about roganic, and so i wasn't sure whether i was going to write about roganic. however, there are lots of elements of the lunch that made me want to write. impeccable and unobtrusive service, a team whose passion for food shines through in the time they will take to talk to you about what you are eating, the artistic creativity of the food itself not just in terms of its flavours but the colour and composition as well.   

the thing about roganic is that there is no way the descriptions on the menu can capture what you actually eat. you have to come here with a spirit of openness. i gave up trying to figure out the ingredients or even acquaint myself with the names as early as after the amuse bouche. i was much more interested in eating to experience and enjoy new tastes. the apéritif was perplexing to start with as it was a lone sliver of dried apricot in the base of the glass. o and i were puzzling over this when the server came back with a spray can that looked like a fire extinguisher. whilst he sprayed into our glasses he explained that the juice from the dehydrated apricot had been used to infuse a premium distilled russian vodka. on the first sip i was transported to a childhood memory of swat in pakistan. the apricots from the valley are sweet as honey but with a slight fermentation when eaten warm. this apéritif tasted just like that. there was no suggestion of the vodka, just the warmth of alcohol.  

i don't usually drink rose but decided that a summer day called for a glass. there was only one on the wine list and it turned out to be the best rose i have had. it wasn't sweet and had the complexity of a full bodied red without the weight of it. it was beautiful amber-pink. o and i settled on the three course. despite having skipped breakfast i was pretty certain i wasn't going to manage a six course. after the drinks we were served an amuse bouche which was a chickpea and rosemary wafer with a cream cheese and a colourful array of micro-leaves and flower petals. if spring had a flavour that's what it would taste like. floral and woody with a dominant note of truffles. 

amuse bouche
after the drinks came the butter softened with flakes of salt. it was placed on a rock on our table and followed by three different types of bread rolls - spelt, sourdough and pumpernickel. there is nothing better than warm bread with butter and i really had to hold myself back for eating all of them. o had worked through all three rolls by the time our first course arrived.

our first course was described as crab cream on toast, gem lettuce and fresh english peas and had no resemblance to it. the toast was really a thin long strip of bread flavoured and coloured with squid ink with a generous amount of crab meat, a brown crab sauce which was more like an intense reduction of crab with peas and a lightly cooked gem lettuce leaf, peas, petals and leaves. i have always found crab meat to be mild. at roganic the crab meat along with the sauce stole the show. o and i loved this. 

crab cream on toast
i don't eat lamb so asked for my second course to be changed, leaving the decision to the chef. my second course was trout cooked in butter with potatoes, green leafy vegetables that i had never eaten before but that had a very sharp slightly bitter taste. little dots of bright red beetroot were intense in their flavour with a caramel sweetness, as were the thin discs of potato. o decided to stay with the lamb despite not being a huge fan of it. he said that it was good.

the dessert struck me as a sophisticated and de-constructed crumble. this was the first time o and i had ever tried meadowsweet and rapeseed. the meadowsweet granita had piquant taste. i do not like white chocolate but the sorbet here had tamed the cloying sweetness leaving just a smooth creamy slightly milky taste. the base was a trio of small plum discs that tasted much like honey, and a buttery biscuity crumb had a slight aniseed taste. this is the first time i've had a dessert that has such an interesting mix of flavours and textures. 

plum crumble
last but not least came the refresher. a douglas fir milkshake with a douglas fir flapjack. the douglas fir flapjack as everything a flapjack should be, sweet, sticky, buttery with a piney accent. the milkshake was refreshing like eating fennel but with a more refined taste. i definitely like douglas fir and would like to try it at home sometime. 

at roganic the courses were spaced apart perfectly. they did not come in swift succession instead giving us time to contemplate our food and wine. it is markedly different from other restaurants in this respect as more often than not i feel hurried through my food. the credit for this must go to the team at roganic. this, and the artistic creativity of the food is what puts roganic on my list of most memorable lunches. i had been telling o (since watching the trip) that i really want to go to l'enclume. roganic has convinced him that my constant nagging on that front is right. roganic takes modern british cuisine to perfection. this two year pop-up already has a faithful following that will be here to stay when it finds a permanent home in this city.   

p.s. paul winch-furness has a picture essay on roganic that captures the food, team and atmosphere of the restaurant. 

Roganic on Urbanspoon

No comments:

Post a Comment