Formerly a pop-up in the same neck of the woods, Roganic is the latest restaurant from pioneering British chef and restaurateur, Simon Rogan (best known for L’Enclume and Rogan & Co, in Cartmel, the Lake District, and most recently Aulis in Soho). Opposite Daylesford, on Marylebone’s Blandford Street, Roganic mark II offers a taste of Simon’s distinctive approach to British fine dining to customers in the capital.
There’s been a Simon Rogan-shaped hole in London’s dining scene since his surprise departure from Fera at Carridges in 2017 and finally his visionary 2011-2013 pop-up Roganic is back, and here to stay, with head chef Oli Marlow (Roganic mark I and L’Enclume) at the helm.
What’s the vibe like?
Those familiar with L’Enclume’s set up will feel at home in this new Marylebone address. The design is stark – polished concrete-style floors, brushed copper-style walls, contemporary wood-shaved chandeliers, starched tablecloths. But what the décor lacks in warmth, is made up for in spades by the team. The staff here are the kind of friendly that isn’t painted on – it’s genuine. They’re as passionate as the chefs they’re serving from and GM James Foster enthrals with his foodie trivia.
How does the menu work?
Depending on which day you visit, and whether you’re in for lunch or dinner, there’s a choice of a ‘short’ tasting menu (£80, featuring 10 courses) and the regular tasting menu (£115) of 17 (18 if you count the bread and butter) courses, or a set business lunch, £40, of six courses.
Don’t be alarmed, though, by the volume – you’re quickly told by your server that courses don’t mean big platefuls, they really refer to intense mouthfuls, some bigger than others.
Whichever menu you choose comes in a wax-sealed envelope – and whether you open it or not depends if you’re the delayed gratification type or binge-watch a boxset-in-one-sitting kinda-gal/guy. Even if you do sneak a peek, dishes are explained with succinct description “raw beef and kohlrabi”, “scallop, gooseberry, apple”. British suppliers, including Simon’s own Our Farm in the Lake District, feature throughout.
Which dishes should we order at Roganic?
You don’t have too much choice, given it’s a set menu, but there are some serious highlights (and Rogan signatures) that shouldn’t be skipped. Preserved raspberry tarts at the start are a burst of sweet and sour flavour – tastebuds are officially awoken. Just warm and wibbly with an additional pop of onyx caviar, a savoury seaweed custard is soul-warmingly comforting.
“Pork, eel, hay cream” comes as a piece of bubble-wrap-like, super-crisp crackling with the smoky butteriness of the eel and cream. Mushroom broth poured over a golden Burford Brown egg yolk, gently smoked, and more ’shrooms of various shapes, sizes and textures feels like a culinary tumble through an Alice in Wonderland rabbit role.
Which dishes should we miss?
With a menu that’s 17 courses long, there’s bound to be some filler and these arrive as the plates start to get bigger, around half way through. Salt-baked celeriac with whey and marigold was lost in its seasoning. Cabbage, crab, horseradish and chicken, and grilled leek with potato and cod’s roe were forgettable. They all blend into one. (A salty one.)
What’s dessert like?
Things pick up again with the desserts (all six of them). A sorbet of yellow beetroot bathed in buttermilk and a vibrant, sharp, green oxalis (also known as wood sorrel – a familiar sight in the woodlands close to L’Enclume) oil, was rewardingly refreshing and palate cleansing and led on to perhaps the best, certainly the most Instagramed, dish of the night…
For those fans of dendrochronology (or tree-ring dating), working out how long it took to create the tightly wound round of caramelised apple is almost as satisfying as eating the thing (and its douglas fir sorbet companion) is. Almost. The best dessert our date says he’s ever had.
There’s more though – from smoked juniper fudge, to yogurt sorbet with blackcurrant and (rice pudding skin haters, look away now) a burnt milk crisp.
What are the drinks like at Roganic?
Drinks pairing starts at £25, up to £75 depending what menu you order – but definitely don’t skip this. The team care just as much about the drinks as the do the food. On our visit, wine jumps from a sparkling from the Limney Estate in Sussex to a rare (and wonderful) greenish-gold Italian Vitovska, to a sprightly pinot noir made in Oregan by Kelley Fox Wines.
What else should we know?
You’ve heard of a doggy bag? How about a breakfast bag? Each guest is given a brown bag with bespoke-blend earl grey tea bags, slices of ‘breakfast’ cake (the best kind) and a mini pot of homemade jam.