To dine at Fera, Claridge’s flagship restaurant, is a privilege. Not only is it a chance to eat Simon Rogan’s food (he of L’Enclume fame), but to get a table in the first place you’ll have to overcome a notoriously long waiting list and a bill of more than £100 per tasting menu.
Which is why the Fera experience is but a dream for most of us. Until now. Thanks to its new bar snacks menu, you can try five bites (each one usually served as part of the tasting menu) for just £15 per person. There’s no catch – it’s honestly £15 for the genuine Rogan article, eaten at the bar in the same room as regular Fera diners. So you can enjoy the same ambience, same plush walnut, bronze and green interior, and same central illuminated tree.
It’s an intimate bar with enough padded bar stools for four people, and a monochrome sketch mural behind the barman that depicts famous Claridge’s patrons (it also doubles up as a spirits cabinet). A beautiful art deco lamp and neat collection of rose gold bar spoons, muddlers and cocktail shakers completes the kind of classy, opulent feel that you’d expect from a hotel of such distinction.
Our first ‘course’, chickpea wafer with curd, herbs and flowers, was exquisite – a delicate, almost opaque crispy base topped with velvety curd, a mustard emulsion for gentle heat, sharp drops of rhubarb vinegar and tiny, multi-coloured petals.
Next, a real labour of love: stewed rabbit with lovage takes five days to make and involves steaming, shaving and dehydrating onions to get those crispy, salty onion tangles that wrap around balls of soft, rich rabbit. The shiny green lovage emulsion it sits on is fresh and vibrant, designed to cut through any excess fattiness. So addictive are these balls of gamey brilliance that they inspired us to order a second round of bar snacks, just so we could get to the rabbit part.
Dainty cubes of fresh lemon sole and tiny peaks of potent horseradish emulsion are placed on a seaweed cracker for the third bite, with a dressing of smoked pork fat and sea herbs. Crunchy puffed barley, celeriac purée and juniper cream was our fourth plate, served in a cone and made delicious by the addition of dehydrated mushroom and yeast flakes – a combination that tasted like bacon and left a lovely lingering saltiness.
Our final bar snack was an ode to peas – a whipped, foamy, ever so slightly sweet pea mousse piped into what looked like a stone egg cup, scattered with pea halves. At the bottom was a secret layer of thick and yogurty crème fraiche purée; at the top more pretty petals and a sprig of calamint. We could have eaten it five times over.
Every snack (and we did eat double of each) feels like a project in its own right. So much thought and technique goes into them, and together they create a diverse range of textures, flavours and colours. For £15, it’s incredible value.
What might push the price up, if you choose to have one, are the cocktails (around £16 each). Pea shoots, apple marigold and vermouth was refreshing and lightly vegetal, with a clean mineral finish; while green apple, yogurt, caraway and cucumber gin had a magically creamy texture, despite its thin viscosity, thanks to a base syrup made from dehydrated yogurt.
A shiso shrub cocktail, made with Somerset cider brandy, packed a fiery punch at the start before tailing off to a sweet finish; and liquorice root, seaweed, citrus and whisky was reminiscent of the sea in both taste and aroma, with a sophisticated matte, creamy aftertaste.
Our advice? Make the most of Fera’s inventive, precise and beautiful bar snacks menu before it disappears!
Written by Charlotte Morgan, August 2016
Fera at Claridge’s
49 Brook St
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