Written by Mary Osborne. See our new guide to all readers' restaurant reviews.
I can picture it now, snow-capped peaks above rolling hills of luscious grass. Cumbria, what a shock it must have been when these Cumbrian features popped up five minutes' walk from Bond St. Roganic is the two-year venture of Simon Rogan of L'Enclume fame up in Cumbria (I'm purposely trying not to say pop-up).
The exterior was understated, as was the almost Nordic vibe achieved inside. I was greeted by the warm and friendly staff, which made up for the draughty table in the doorway. Well, I suppose that's what happens if you book only a week in advance! The amazing champagne cocktail soon warmed us up, as did the amazing choice of well-made bread and crackers served with heavenly whipped butter. Good bread, I must add, is not an easy find.
The fun began as the Domaine Laureau 1999 Savennières was opened: golden almonds and walnuts lifted with honeysuckle - amazing. This divine example of aged Savennières accompanied the langoustine/crackling/artichoke like a dream.
The wine list was fun, interesting and well-priced, if not a tad short. They have the chance to showcase some of those oh-so-fun wines that just shout out to accompany great food: an Austrian or two, maybe even some more little gems from the Loire…
Back to the food, however. The razor clams were delicate and sweet, with that old-school French twist which just makes everything divine and moreish. The overall style was surprisingly reserved, with fantastic local produce from head to toe. Very elegant and sophisticated creations came with a real feel of comfort. They have managed to find a great balance that is delicious and unoffensive - just what London calls for.
The one thing that stood out was the service. I have been to many a restaurant and unfortunately only on the odd occasion (and that mainly in Europe) have I come across a group of not only friendly but knowledgeable, motivated and passionate professionals. Moving round the restaurant like ballerinas, they showed not a touch of pretension. It's a shame that this isn't an experience had on a regular basis. They knew their products but most of all they knew their customer.
Roganic, 19 Blandford St, London W1U 3DH
Tel +44 (0)20 7486 0380