Dads’ Dining Club Review: Roganic, Blandford Street, London, W1

Heritage tomatoes, bulgur wheat, goat’s curd and apple marigold

Six times a year, four musketeer dads get together for a gastronomical night out. But there are times when three of us aren’t available. This is one such time. However, it would be a wasted opportunity to miss out on the much-respected opinions of we fathers in our forties, so sometimes we take it in turns to offer our views on our solo efforts.

Thus, this review of the stupendous pop-up restaurant, Roganic, comes to you from fellow Dads’ Dining Club aficionado, Danny. Over to him…

‘Taster menus are one of a few ultimate dining experiences in my opinion, eating at the chefs table being another. Tasting menus give you the chance to see the complete range of what the chef is capable of, without getting full up.

It’s also the chance for the chef to show off his skills in the most challenging way. I can’t remember where my first tasting menu was but the most memorable (and most expensive) was at the Fat Duck. That day in early 2007 I was blown away and thought I would never experience tastes as amazing as those ever again.

There was of course the theatre of dining there and the impeccable service, both of which should accompany a good tasting menu experience.

Last year, almost as my entry exam to the Dad’s dining club, I chose to take the other Dads to Viajante.

It wasn’t long after that great night that I started the search for the next taster. While looking into a family summer holiday in the Lake District, I stumbled across L’Enclume in Cartmel and after a bit of poking around found out that the owner, Simon Rogan, had a ‘pop-up’ restaurant in London called Roganic.

The review looked great, so I booked a Saturday night were the only menu option was a 10 course taster, standard or Vegetarian (for the Missus).

Roganic is located on a rather lifeless street in Marylebone, opposite a rather skuzzy pub and next to a posh nail salon.

We were only the third party to arrive, quite early at 7pm and were warmly welcomed into what was a rather small, very plain looking room, plain grey walls, no décor whatsoever.

Indeed it was almost silent in there, the other tables were only whispering, nothing from the kitchen, which was unfortunately downstairs and there was no music. For a while it was rather awkward as we felt like we needed to whisper to each other, but as the evening progressed and the room filled up, the atmosphere that was sorely lacking, appeared.

The staff were very friendly, pleasant, highly knowledgeable and down to earth. These qualities together are sadly lacking from 95% of all restaurant staff.

So on to the food. No one dish stood out as exceptional or mind blowing (as they all do at the Fat Duck), instead, with the exception of the Eel and pork belly on smoked hay, each was a subtle crafting of flavors I’ve not experienced anywhere else. The pork belly was powerful and bursting with smells and with strong flavours.

Eel and pork belly on smoked hay

I’ve included here a mixture of photos from both the standard and vegetarian menus.

We both enjoyed the meal tremendously and would thoroughly recommend it to anyone who enjoys experimenting with food.

That said, it’s not somewhere I’d return to until I saw a new menu and this probably won’t happen until Roganic find a new residence, as I understand their lease expires soon and they’ll be forced to move on. Staying true to the DDC, our scores:

Venue: Plain, rather cold and lacking in atmosphere. Shame really, but maybe this helps you concentrate on the food? 6/10

Atmosphere: As above, although things livened up as the evening went on, it was just a bit too awkward early on. I don’t want to feel like I need to have a whisper-quiet conversation and equally I don’t really want to hear what the people on the table on the other side of the room got up to the day before! 6/10

Food: Superb craftsmanship but maybe could do with some more big hitting dishes. The wines that were chosen for us were excellent. 9/10

Purple-sprouting broccoli, buttermilk and barley

 

Ham and pea

 

Vanilla ice cream, pear and nut cluster

Service: Close to faultless. 9/10

VFM: 10 courses plus amuse bouche, unlimited bread and butter and pallet cleansers for £80 is a bit of a bargain in my books. 9/10

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