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August 25, 2014

Chef Simon Rogan's New London Restaurant

By Tom Parker Bowles | Restaurants, Hotels

British Chef Simon ROgan's New London Restaurant
Photo courtesy of Maybourne Hotel Group

Fera at Claridge’s, chef Simon Rogan’s new restaurant in London, is named after the Latin word for “wild.” But there’s nothing untamed about the food. The cooking is complex but never fussy, refined but without pretension. Rogan excels in drawing the quintessence of flavor from each and every dish. Rabbit is slow-cooked until it’s soft and silken, then encased in a crisp, burnished onion batter; it arrives perched atop a slick of intense lovage purée. The result is a riot of textures and a taste that lingers long after the dish has disappeared.

Potatoes are whipped with soft cheese, a very British version of aligot, and topped with duck hearts. The contrast of seductively lactic and quietly meaty is sublime—and technically assured, too. Ingredients, as you would expect, are top notch, British and distinctively seasonal (most are harvested from Rogan’s own 12-acre farm in Cartmel Valley, about 278 miles outside London). In the dying days of spring, I found strawberries, young rhubarb, exquisite shellfish and an entire meadow’s worth of edible flowers. In other, less talented chefs’ hands, this sort of food could quickly become trite and showy, a triumph of appearance over substance.

Service is predictably deft, and the room is quietly impressive, with a sand-blasted manzanita tree at its center. It has the feeling of restrained opulence and the gentle well-fed and -heeled chatter of people actually enjoying their meal. There’s little doubt Rogan will soon be adding to his haul of Michelin stars. (He has two already at L’Enclume in Cumbria.) But unlike so many other temples to haute cuisine, Fera has real heart. At Brook St.; 44-20/7107-8888; feraatclaridges.co.uk.