Ok, so what to write about Roganic that has not already been written by people with far more talent for this than me! Well, all I can do is try and show you what I was served by an incredible front of house team that exude the same passion for their jobs as the guys downstairs at the stove (not always the case). Jon Cannon and Sandia Chang are doing a brilliant job of interacting with guest and sharing the vision of the whole team from Simon Rogan all the way down.
I started with some great breads and whipped butter set on a seaside pebble.
This is followed by a canapé but I must apologise as I can’t remember what it was exactly but all you need to know is that it is very good and the start of something very special.
My first proper course was Pig and Lincolnshire eel, sea purslane, black mustard and pickled corn- only one thing to say “wicked”. I love pork and I love eel so to have them together as a fried crunchy cube, with one of my favourite vegetables corn, was a perfect first course. Sandia Chang had suggested that I have a beer with my first couple of course and I was served very good pale ale which if I remember rightly was called “Camden Pale Ale” it was a great match and very refreshing.
Next up was Millet Pudding with grains, burnt pear and Devon blue- this shows head Chef Ben Spalding’s skills by taking something as plain as millet and turning into a lovely base for this dish that is almost risotto like, the addition of a little piece of bone marrow was superb. Bone marrow truly is butter from the gods!
After this I had Cured and smoked Dorset char, Watts farm peppers and crab apple- arriving at the table with a glass cloche over the plate filled with smoked this dish again was very clean in flavour and had a lovely texture.
During this meal I had two absolute standout dishes, meaning I would have done pretty much anything for just one more bite to enjoy, the first one of these dishes came next. Golden cauliflower, sour cream, raisin, Grilled lettuce and yarrow- those that know me might be surprised that a dish containing no meat, fish or shellfish is one of my favourites from the meal but all I am going to say is go and try it yourself I promise you will understand and finally get how good cauliflower can be. Is that enough praise, I’m not sure it is because this dish was truly great!
The second of my stand out dishes arrived next, King Richard baked in clay and rosemary, autumn truffle and shallot jam. So, king Richard is a leek variety and when the dish of clay came to the table on a platter looking like someone’s just dug it up. You get an idea that this is going to be a bit special but when the plate came up from the kitchen with your leek resting on shallot jam surrounded by a few pine nuts and truffle sauce, you smile you honestly can’t help it, then either Jon or Sandia come over and shave truffle all over the top heaven on a plate.
After the two amazing dishes I had just had, you could be thinking can it carry on and for me, it did! The next to hit the table was-royal kidneys cooked in chicken fat, peas, goats curd & clam juice, now this dish didn’t send me into food heaven as the last two did but it’s still a great tasting dish using some clever ideas to elevate the humble potato to a dish worthy of this restaurant.
Fish was the next port of call and a dish I had seen Ben had tweeted earlier in the week and was hoping I would get as dab is a very underrated and underused fish. Dab baked in fennel salt, sea beet, parsley root and sweet cicely, perfectly cooked fish with great little accents of flavour that didn’t over power or take over the dish, shrimp and Brussels sprout give it a freshness and textural difference on the plate.
As it is game season my next course was Yorkshire pheasant, pumpkin, muesli and buckthorn plantain, normally not a fan of pheasant but it had been cooked to absolute perfection, it was moist and seasoned to the point but no further. The garnish for the pheasant was lovely, pumpkin and buckthorn adds texture and flavour to the plate without interfering with the pheasant leaving it standing proud.
My palate cleanser- Ginger beer, just not as you expect it. The ginger beer was served as a granite as all else it was very good, lightly spicy but cleansing.
First of the dessert courses was Warm salted chocolate, William pear, chestnuts and Atsina, now I love salt so a salted chocolate dessert is right up my street, most people don’t know but salt actually improves the flavour of chocolate. The difference here is that the warm salted chocolate is a mousse and is added tableside from an isi canister meaning it is very very light and the sorbet is as smooth as possible.
This was followed by my favourite dessert Bilberries, dried caramel, natural yoghurt and iced lemon thyme. Clean and beautifully presented I was running the spoon round my bowl to get every last drop out of that bowl.
Last main dish Warm spiced bread, salted almonds, buckthorn curd, smoked clotted cream, this is the signature dessert at Roganic I believe and is worth that title, it’s like the best piece of bread and butter pudding you have ever had and the buckthorn curd is very clever and adds real depth to the dish.
Finishing the meal was a small shot of milkshake, a cookie & a perfect little cupcake. Wicked way to finish the meal makes a change from chocolates or pate de fruit that everyone else seems to do. I also enjoyed two very nice glasses of wine, one white which was a Riesling and a red which I can’t remember where it came from (sorry).
This is quite simply one of the best restaurants around at the moment and as I told the staff on the day every bit as good as the meal I recently had at Michael wignall @ the laytmer Pennyhill Park and we all know how good he is.
The future is certainly very bright for the three key players at Roganic- Ben Spalding head chef is without doubt on of the brightest young chefs at the stove in this country right now, his passion and skill come though in every dish that leaves his kitchen.
Jon Cannon has a way that makes you feel instantly comfortable around him and that means you meal pass by without you really noticing the time.
Finally Sandia Chang whose grace moving around the restaurant shows the level she has worked at in the past and she has transferred all of that experience over to this latest project.
Remember live to eat don’t eat to live