It’s a complete indictment of my lazy southerner mentality that I’ve never made it up to Simon Rogan’s restaurant L’Enclume despite glowing reviews that would have had me charging half way across France for a similar experience.
But I was sufficiently impressed by my meal at his London outpost Roganic a couple of years ago to jump at the chance of eating at his recent pop-up at The Electrolux Cube.
It’s a weird venue - what feels like an Anglian conservatory perched on top of the Festival Hall, reached by some rather dodgy looking back stairs and a black grass carpet.. Fortunately it was a stunningly beautiful day which made for a jaw-dropping view over London and the afternoon sun poured onto our table for the duration of our seven-course lunch.
Rogan’s food is admirably light, elegant and colourful so every plate was a visual treat, kicking off with a spectacular irridescent ‘cod yolk’ - an egg yolk shaped salt cod mousse encased in saffron jelly served with kale, sorrel and squid ink.
The pairing for that was a 2011 Hunters Marlborough riesling which I thought was a shade too sweet. It was also paired with the next dish - a broth of turnip (Baldrick eat your heart out), the most fantastically light, delicious Westcombe cheddar dumplings, English truffle and apple marigold, one of many ingredients on the menu that were grown at L’Enclume or foraged from the surrounding countryside.
The cryptically named Aynsome’s Autumn Offerings (below) turned out to be an exquisite little plate of local root vegetables with flowers and herbs served with fresh curds and pork skin. That was matched with an accommodating Satzen Gruner Veltliner, Kremstal from Weingut Manfred Felsner - probably my favourite style of wine for this fresh-tasting kind of vegetable dish.
An intensely buttery dish of plaice poached in brown butter with red russian, mussels and oxalis root proved the best match of the lunch with a Domaine Roche Bellene 2010 Montagny 1er cru - no surprise there: white burgundy loves creamy, buttery sauces.
We then had the one red of the meal, a Domaine Serge Lafoue Sancerre Rouge 2010 with the only meat dish, ‘Reg’s Guinea Hen', leeks and offal, pennyroyal and Cowmire cider - which althrough it was cooked in Rogan’s elegant register was still too robust for such a delicate wine. (I’d have gone for a red burgundy with a bit of bottle age.)
Finally two desserts a rather strange, blackcurrant and stout concoction topped with a lozenge of sea buckthorn cream (that egg yolk shape again) paired with Quady’s Elysium Black Muscat and a dramatic-looking crunchy assemblage of pear, lemon verbena and hazelnut which was matched with a Paul Cluver Noble Late Harvest riesling. I’m not sure that desserts are Rogan’s strongest suit - they were pretty but not quite sweet or indulgent enough - or it made have just been I was suffering from sensory overload by this stage.
All in all though, a truly dazzling meal in an amazing location - as it needs to be given the prices they’re charging though I have to say I’ve paid more for less accomplished meals in a Michelin 3-starred restaurant.
And it does make me want to go to L'Enclume which I guess is the object of the exercise for Rogan at least. Harder to see quite what Electrolux gets out of it though. Would you buy a fridge or a dishwasher on the strength of a slap-up meal? I'm not sure I would.
I ate at The Cube as a guest of Electrolux.
Simon Rogan is back at the Cube from December 27th to 31st. Other chefs being featured include Tom Kerridge of the Hand and Flowers, Johnray and Peter Sanchez-Inglesias of Casamia in Bristol, Claude Bosi of Hibiscus, Atul Kochhar of Benares, and Daniel Clifford of Midsummer House. Bookings are taken for lunch at 12:00 for £175 a head and dinner at 19:00 for £215 (prices includes champagne reception, a minimum 6 course tasting menu and matched wines). Check the website for who's on when and call +44 (0) 207 288 6450 to book.
* It’s interesting how white wines dominate the pairings for this kind of cooking. But is that what you’d order if you went out for a meal that cost this amount?