Simon Rogan may not have received a star for his Manchester culinary triumph, The French, but his prestigious new London eatery, Fera, was awarded the accolade within weeks of opening. Housed in the iconic Claridges Hotel, it is surprisingly daring considering the traditional clientele who frequent this establishment.
Rogan first made an impact on the food scene with his 2 star restaurant L’Enclume in the Cumbrian village of Cartmel, an eatery that introduced us to the chef’s clever cuisine inspired by nature. The French is similar in style, offering innovative food presented in unusual ways.
Fera is latin for wild but, located within the beautifully redesigned art deco dining room at Claridge’s, it is quite the opposite: pristine and organised with a bare tree construction branching out in the centre of the room. In his food however Rogan tames the wild wonders of the garden and pairs the delicate and sometimes obscure flavours with meat and fish cooked to perfection.
I began with one of the delightful seasonal cocktails, it was a lovely shade of pink, a carefully combined mix of pear juice, fig-infused vodka, spiced wine and fennel seed spray. An ideal aperitif to sip whilst nibbling the amuse-bouche. In due course homemade warm malty bread arrived at the table with a dish of whipped caramelised butter.
The lunch menu for the day featured:
Smoked Bantam yolk, salt-baked kohlrabi, cavolo nero, Isle of Mull, truffle
Beetroot with fresh cheese, chicory brined in dill, pickled pear and horseradish
Reg’s guinea hen, salt-baked celeriac, buttered kale, cider sauce
Roasted plaice with purple sprouting, new potatoes, seaweed sauce
Chocolate cream, apple marigold, shortbread and rapeseed jam
Bramley apple cake, praline ice cream and chestnut
The dishes were beautifully arranged, plates of contrasting colours, textures and shapes, Rogan challenges the diner with unlikely flavour pairings. The Beetroot was a delectable treat, soft and sweet with vinegary and crunchy chicory and indulgent cheese. Smoked Bantam yolk shone marigold orange from the centre of the plate, strewn with greens and an almost tart milky sauce with a luxurious hint of truffle.
Desserts were conservative in size, and my Bramley apple cake tasted almost too healthy for a Michelin meal; light and refreshing with a sharp apple taste and creamy ice cream, shavings of chestnut on top. I thought the cake was most impressive, a dense but spongey texture packed full of flavour. I barely got to taste the chocolate dish, it was polished off pretty quickly, a dollop of silky chocolatey cream and vibrant citrus and biscuit crumbs, the perfect conclusion to the meal for sweet toothers.
A meal for two at Fera will cost you a hefty £300, but visit at lunchtime and you can taste Rogan’s revelatory cooking for just £30 a head. You will experience three courses, as imaginative as the a la carte but lighter and smaller, so you won’t feel weighed down all day. I can’t think of a better Michelin lunch deal in London.
More information and book a table at Fera here.