Dedicated to being the very best of British, Simon Rogan’s flagship restaurant serves food that is exclusively sourced from the north-west of England, highlighting ‘our philosophy of trying to use everything around us, from food and staff to furniture.’ Such dishes could include Venison leg cooked in hay with roast celeriac and braised red cabbage, or Hake fillet with golden beet and radish salad.
At the heart of this local philosophy is Simon Rogan’s farm, which supplies over 90% of the kitchen’s produce, located near the restaurant in Cumbria’s beautiful Cartmel Valley. Here he grows a fascinating range of unusual and exciting ingredients – all produced organically, to his exacting specifications – such as Japanese wineberries, elkhorn fern and buck’s-horn plantain. With harvest to plate often taking place in less than an hour, the quality and freshness is stunning. Wild edibles are still an important area of supply, however, and herbs and flowers such as lovage, calamint and elderflower are sourced by his impressive foraging operation. He says: ‘Our chefs have learnt to understand exactly what can be achieved by using produce that has been grown, nurtured and foraged in the natural environment that surrounds many of our restaurants.’ His Great British Menu-winning dessert of Poached pears, atsina cress snow, sweet cheese ice cream and rosehip syrup, which was successful in the 2012 series, is an excellent example of this fantastic use of England’s natural bounty.
A huge amount of work is involved in his technical, experimental plates – all of which are perfected in Simon Rogan’s dedicated development kitchen, found next to the main restaurant. Equipped with every cutting-edge gadget available to the world of food and cooking, the kitchen is staffed by his trusted part-farmer/food scientist/chef employees and serves all of his enterprises. Although inspiration comes from many sources, the seasons and available ingredients remain the focus – if they can’t use something straight away, it is preserved for future plates.
In 2008 he opened Rogan and Company, an informal restaurant and bar only a few yards away from L’Enclume. In 2011 came Roganic, his organic ‘pop-up’ in London, which although also showcasing the best of British, local and seasonal was a little more relaxed and cosmopolitan than the offerings at L’Enclume.
In 2013 he took over management of The French at the Midland Hotel in Manchester, offering tasting menus featuring his precise, meticulously thought-out creations, such as Smoked Maran yolk with yellow turnip, truffle and mushroom broth, Butter-poached hake with salt-baked abalone, leeks and cockles, and Baked quince with bay leaf, ginger biscuit and brown butter ice cream. A further Simon Rogan restaurant, Mr Cooper’s House and Garden, opened at the same venue in 2015. This 200-cover, brasserie-style eatery offers a more internationally inflected menu with small plates and à la carte dishes such as Buttermilk fried oyster with kimchee purée, pear and pickled fennel, Roasted sweetheart cabbage steaks with teriyaki sauce, grated Wiltshire truffles and hot wasabi mayonnaise, and Chilled lemongrass soup with green tea wafers and coconut sorbet.
In 2014 he took over the menus at Fera, in Claridge’s, London. Offering food of the same ambition as L’Enclume, but without any repetition of particular dishes, tasting plates include Fresh buttermilk curds and watercress, pickled kohlrabi, tantan lettuce and cobnuts. The restaurant was awarded one Michelin star in the 2015 guide and Simon Rogan has made no secret of his desire to earn three stars at the venue.
In both the 2014 and 2015 Good Food Guides, L’Enclume was named the best restaurant in Britain, edging out revered competitors such as Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck and Restaurant Gordon Ramsay. With this accolade, Simon Rogan has been marked out as the best chef in Britain, a chef dedicated to the incredible, but undervalued, abundance of British farms and forests. His astonishingly complex, painstakingly developed dishes dazzle in every endeavour he turns his hand to and he continues to achieve and push the boundaries at the very top of British cuisine.