Roganic is a two year pop-up restaurant (if such a thing exists) from Simon Rogan who owns one Michelin starred L’Enclume in Cumbria. Simon shot to even higher fame when he took part in BBC’s Great British Menu where he won the dessert round and cooked it at the final banquet.
The restaurant itself was small and very simple. The walls were either white or grey and the table was laid with just a napkin and a water glass. Low hanging lights with nautical styled lampshades caused a slight obstacle when getting up to go to the toilet. Even the waitress would occasionally forget they were there and bang her head.
Just three staff ran the front of house and they oozed friendliness. Don’t take my word for it – Roganic just received the Zagat Top Service award. They knew everything there was to know about the food – where it was grown and how it was cooked. Their knowledge was very impressive.
Three daily changing tasting menus are available meaning you will always receive fresh and seasonal ingredients. We decided to order the three courses priced at £29 and were probably the only people in the restaurant to do so. We could have ordered 6 courses for £55 or 10 for £80 and with hindsight we wish we’d spent a little bit more and ordered one of these.
Two attractive canapes started proceedings. The smoked eel and pork croquette was served in a cast iron dish; when the waitress removed the lid, a little puff of smoke escaped which was a lovely touch. The meat was rich and the crunchy outside was the perfect contrast. Smoked eel and pork is my new favourite combination – who would have thought it!
The beetroot wafer with goats cheese mousse topped with dill was very attractive. The wafer was light and crispy but very sweet and got stuck in our teeth.
Three types of freshly baked bread were served with homemade whipped butter all the way from the Lake District. The slightly sweet pumpernickel (in the middle) was a firm favourite however they were all delicious.
An amuse bouche of carrot with ham fat and pickled celery was a vibrantly orange dish. The sweet carrot mousse was light, the ham fat crunchy and the celery slightly tangy. A very clever and intriguing dish.
Our next offering, which was in fact our first course, looked stunning but was the only dish that didn’t particularly wow us in terms of flavour. A cold salad of correctly cooked potatoes alongside some dried celery shards were placed on top of what I can only describe as a tomato puree. It lacked the exciting flavours that we had previously seen.
Our main course of duck breast, sweetbreads, red orache, white icicle and English mace was absolutely divine. White icicle is a radish (which reminded me of a carrot) and tasted sweet. The icicle, red orache and English mace were all grown on the L’Enclume farm in Cumbria and were the perfect partner for the duck. The deep fried sweetbreads (the animals glands – usually the neck) were tender with a crunchy exterior. The duck was the most tender we have ever eaten – we just wanted more of it! The whole thing was covered in a rich sweet duck jus. We loved it. A small but insanely tasty dish.
Dessert was Simon’s winning Great British Menu dish (we were so excited to be eating this!) – poached pears, hazelnuts, sweet cheese and roshehips . It was pure perfection. The sweet cheese ice cream was expertly balanced between sweet and savoury. The rosehip syrup was fragrant which was soothed by some ice cold snow dusted on top. All combined with the sweet pears and the crunch from the hazelnuts we could see why this dish won.
To wash all this down we were then given a shot of Douglas fir milkshake with a cube of sharp apple jelly. The earthy pine flavour was very unusual but delightful.
A final flourish to end our lunch was a warm mini brioche doughnut with a lemon curd centre – HEAVEN.
For a three course lunch we actually ate nine different servings of food. For £29 that is fantastic value. There was only one dish we didn’t like – the rest were faultless. We’d definitely like to return to Roganic (before it goes) but instead order the 6 or 10 course menu, as that’s where the real excitement seems to be had.
As we banged our heads on the lampshade on our way out and waved goodbye to the lovely waiters, we only had good things to say about Roganic. It’s definitely worth a visit.