Luxury-priced brilliance from Cumbrian chef Simon Rogan: intricate and imaginative dishes, like tiny works of art, featuring wild and little-known ingredients.
You really know a restaurant is expensive when even the walls are textured. Set within super-swanky Claridges, this dining room has been decorated in sombre tones (including plenty of dark olive green), which may well not be to everyone’s taste, but the interiors are pretty much the last reason you’d visit Fera.
Meaning ‘wild’ in Latin, Fera is chef Simon Rogan’s first permanent eatery in the capital. (His Marylebone pop-up, Roganic, was a roaring success, while his two-Michelin-starred Cumbrian restaurant L’Enclume, is widely held to be one of the finest restaurants in the UK.) As you might expect from the name, many ingredients are wild and little-known, from dittander (a salt marsh plant, here served with Cornish lobster, pickled golden beetroot and other ‘sea herbs’) to ‘pineapple weed’: a type of wild chamomile, here used in a pudding of butterscotch and celery. Yes, really: celery. Others are grown according to the seasons at Rogan’s Cumbrian farm.
Dishes are intricate and imaginative, like tiny works of art. Highlights from our visit included ‘snacks’ of puffed barley wafers topped with smoked eel mousse and the petals of ox-eye daisies; a bowl of ‘grilled salad’ (literally – curly endive leaves grilled over embers) with sunflower seeds and a rich, savoury ‘truffle custard’; and a dinky parcel of hake wrapped in caramelised cabbage, which came served with tiny chicken-fat-cooked potatoes. Service is warm and polished, with many of the eye-opening dishes brought out in person by one of the young brigade of chefs – a nice touch. Yet this kind of food pilgrimage comes at a price: £85 for the three-course evening a la carte, or £105 for the full tasting menu. By comparison, the £45 three-course set lunch (which usually has a few ‘freebies’ thrown in), seems a bargain.
By Tania Ballantine