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Fera at Claridge's restaurant review

Fera at Claridge's restaurant review

by Great British Chefs 02 June 2014

Simon Rogan’s new London restaurant, Fera, has opened to much fanfare and acclaim. Not ones to miss out on a good lunch, five of us from Great British Chefs made the short journey across town to see what all the fuss was about – and working on the principle that five reviews > one review, here are each of our musings on the experience.

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Simon Rogan’s new London restaurant, Fera at Claridge's, has opened to much fanfare and acclaim, with journos, celebs and food lovers flocking to Mayfair to sample his world-famous cuisine in this most handsome of locations.

Not ones to miss out on a good lunch, five of us from Great British Chefs made the short journey across town to see what all the fuss was about – and working on the principle that five reviews > one review, here are each of our musings on the experience.

Arjuna Woodrow (Designer)

As the token vegetarian at Great British Chefs, I was presented with a slightly different menu to the others (no bone-marrow butter for me!).

However, the way Rogan treats humble vegetables such as the potato - in my starter of Smoked cheese, potatoes and asparagus juice, and Celeriac - baked in hay and served with its own crispy skin, wild hen of the wood mushrooms, baby turnips and hazelnuts, meant that the meat-free dishes were as packed with as much flavour as their meaty counterparts. If you are a vegetarian looking to be inspired, you will be pushed to find more of a delight than the food on offer here.

Each plate of food was presented on carefully chosen crockery or served on wooden boards and bark, which added to the earthiness of the dishes. The food, dotted with micro herbs and edible flowers for colour (and some delightful flavours), was a visual treat before your taste buds got in on the act.

Martin Malloy (Web Developer)

I sat opposite the kitchen, which was open-plan and mirrored, allowing me to see the sheer scale of the place. Often the staff would come and go through the door on the left, displaying a hi-tech glass herb garden built up from the floor.

We were spoiled with 6 courses. Puffed barley, smoked eel and watercress was up first. Served on a large piece of dark bark, its natural lines and patterns matched Fera’s contour logo and restaurant décor perfectly. It was also a great contrast to the bright yellows and whites that featured on top of that puffed barley crisp.

The main was the biggest highlight for me - guinea hen. Just like the Goosnargh farm it came from, it was surrounded by beautiful English mushrooms and elderflower, served on top of some crunchy peas and pea puree with a very rich meaty stock bringing it all together. Fantastic.

We spent 3 hours indulging in wonderful food from a great chef in a great location, I loved it and would recommend it to anyone.

James Ellis-Jones (Head of Tech)

If you've never been to Claridge's to eat before, you might be happy like I was to find that the place, while fulfilling my expectations of classiness, did so in a surprising and unusual way - the David Lynch velvet curtains in the entrance giving on to the zigzag monochrome patterns of the room.

Simon Rogan's wonderful food was similarly classy and full of surprises, from the celeriac in the dessert to the unscripted mini-courses extending the theatre of our lunch (which - beware - went on far longer than we were expecting). When I visited his wonderful but different Roganic some time ago, I loved the way his food was almost puritanically English while still being fascinating and flavourful. Now it has more colour and breadth but that theme of using ingredients and tastes of this land was very much still what he was about; with tasty leaves on some courses, we were told, from 'the farm', and flavours like smoked eel and barley running throughout his creations.

Presentation was also delightful and inventive; we were served warm salad in a carved-out, rough-edged wooden bowl and the lunch was finished off with macaroons served on a bowl of stones which one of us discovered was somehow sourcing a beautiful aroma of smoke.

Ella Timney (Sub-Editor)

The main dining room at Claridge's is often described in terms such as ‘art deco splendour’, ‘timeless glamour’ and so on. Perhaps for these reasons, I expected a little fustiness maybe, and worried about the much talked about ‘revamp’. However, any preconceptions were immediately squashed - what greeted us was the perfect example of how you should go about leasing new life into a legendary institution, both in terms of the décor and the wonderful staff - not too pushy, not too casual: the perfect balance.

Another thing to be celebrated was the beer menu, which read like a bottle menu in one of my favourite haunts, with Pressure Drop, Partizan, Five Points and Beavertown among the brilliant London breweries making an appearance. I chose one of my favourite beers of recent times, Pressure Drop’s Pale Fire, to complement my choices.

The starter of raw beef exemplified Simon Rogan’s distinctive approach to plating - delving through tender-as-anything diced beef, rummaging and bumping into tiny cubes of crisp apple here, a rich smoked broccoli cream there, all fantastically seasoned with dried scallop roe.

There were all kinds of treats dotted among these courses, each plate was something to truly savour. It was my first time eating at a Simon Rogan restaurant, and now I have, I know I will be returning.

Isaac Parham (Website Editor)

In an industry that so readily revels in the cult of the culinary auteur, it often surprises me how samey a lot of the menus can be. Not so at Fera though, with dishes like Plaice braised in nettle butter and Grilled salad, Isle of Mull, truffle custard and sunflower seeds, this was a menu that could only really belong to one man.

Rogan has found his style and knows both its limitations and triumphs. Imagine ingredients as diverse as raw beef, broccoli, scallop roe and apple juice in the hands of a less-accomplished chef: the results, one imagines, would either be prosaic or catastrophic. Yet Rogan managed to conjure something daringly simple and effortlessly brilliant at the same time.

There were smoke and mirrors but only in the trusted sense of the words (a well-placed mirror offered tantalising glimpses of Rogan at the pass, while a meringue petit four came perched on a bed of smoke-breathing pebbles), as the chef instead stayed true to his au naturel ethos. We were in Claridge's but could have been in Cartmel; therein lies his brilliance.

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