I think most of you will know by now that i`m ever so slightly potty.I can only blame the Cumbrian air and breeding for that one.Last week i even amazed myself and decided on a whim to make a 14 hour , 700 mile round trip…just to eat lunch at Roganic in Marylebone.Car , train , tube , walk , Taxi , train , car and home again , all in the quest for some of Englands finest foods….So yes , totally nuts…but not as nutty as some people.I`m taking about the “Roganator” here , Simon Rogan the crazy chef from Lenclume in Cartmel.He`s a great lad really but he never ceases to amaze me with the never ending use of totally obscure ,wonderful and wild ingredients combined into his cutting edge cuisine.Chef Rogan is currently working behind the stoves of his London Roganic restaurant and also manages to do the same at his flagship Lenclume restaurant in Cumbria on Roganics closed days.Simon has always been known to use ever so slightly “strange” ingredients and since Lenclume opened its doors ten years ago i`ve been fed quite a few totally insane ones to be honest….Wild Roots , and shoots of every description , “Mad Barberry bark infusions” , Cep bomb raviolis , Fragrant Myhrr , Frozen sea water cubes ,BBQ Pig with Coca cola gel , ….Yep , over those ten years i`ve watched Rogan grow and flow through his sensible era, to his strange ….to his totally strange , back to the slightly sensible and now in 2012 chef has made his `one off` style of culinary creativity a huge success at world class level…but the man is still as nutty as the nuttiest fruit cake ( in Simons case his fruitcake is infused with Bistort , cow parsley and green Alkanet ).
As far as Mr Rogan goes , he`s fed me everything….or at least i thought he had.I booked myself onto the London train ,packed my camera and away i went to the big city to sample the new Spring menu at Simons Marylebone restaurant.It was a gorgeous day , a good 10 degrees warmer than Cumbria and before i knew it i was being welcomed by the friendly Roganic team and into the window seat for my 13 course mini feast…..and my first experience of… ” Coal “…..and so on with the menu.
Smoked Pork and Eel croquettes
Onion biscuit , Nettle cream and Shallot jam.
Roganic breads – Pumpernickel , Onion Thyme and Wholemeal with Ale.
Burnt cream of English mushrooms , Ramsons and Cheese drops.
Grown up Egg yolk from the Golden egg , Celeriac , Sorrel and Garlic cream.
Spring broth with Carrot dumplings , Sea kale shoots and Pearl barley.
So this is where Chef Rogan managed to push the boundaries right over the edge again with his constantly developing cuisine…Cmon , “Coal” ….i seriously had my doubts here.Now before anyone asks , no , Rogan hasn`t bought a Cumbrian coal mine.What he`s actually done is to infuse the flavour of Coal into an organic Rapeseed oil.This is combined with raw diced fillet of Venison , scurvy grass , lightly pickled onion and what appeared to be Broom flowers ( Gorse ). I have to admit , i was ever so slightly worried that Simon had gone completely AWOL here but hey…..it bloody well worked , infact the result was a total WOW , and one of the best dishes i have ever eaten from the hundreds of Rogan plates that ive sampled over the years.It took me back to childhood grass fires , wood smoke , BBQ coals, Oil products… I had one of my `closed eyes` moments and just didn`t want this one to end…..Amazing and i can say right now , hand on heart , a trip to Roganic just to sample this one dish would be well worthwhile.I`ll look out for more reports over the coming months , i`ll be interested to hear what other diners make of it.
Raw Venison in “Coal” oil , Mustard , Scurvy grass and Onions.
Crispy seaweed mashed Potatoes , Mace , wild Leek and Fennel.
Cornish Lobster , Oyster , Apple , pickled Kohlrabi and coastal herbs.
Grilled salad smoked over Embers , Truffle custard and Cobnuts.
Five flavoured Monkfish , Razor clams , Vinegar and Hazelnut.
Herdwick Lamb flank, Sweetbread , Salsify , Hedge Garlic and Velvet caps.
Sweet cheese , Water celery , Artichoke and Malt.
Rhubarb with Meadowsweet , cream cake and sweet cicely.
Rowan shoot milk shake with Lemon curd brioche donut.
Bourbon biscuit and white chocolate ice lolly.
The Roganic team
I cannot urge you strongly enough to come up to Cumbria and give the Lenclume experience a go , it`s simply wonderful.If Cartmel is a little too far to travel then go give the Spring menu a shot at Roganic.The food is very similar so at least its a chance to sample Simon Rogans cuisine and have a little taster of what`s happening up at the Mothership restaurant.Thanks also to the team for the constant smiles and awesome service.
Please click HERE to see the full photo package from my Roganic lunch.
Please click HERE to see a recent Lenclume meal from Cartmel.