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Roganic

This post is a few months out of date. It’s not the best way to encourage you to read on, but please do. Last week saw Roganic closing its doors to a 2-year so-called pop up, and the news of its departure from the London dining scene reminded us of how wonderful the food was and how we should have urged you all to go while there was time – fear not, as Roganic will be re-opening  later in the year or early next year at a new location.

Roganic was nestled within Marylebone. In fact, it was next door to Trishna. Unfortunately, the block on which it sits on Blandford Street is due to be knocked down, hence this was the convenient opportunity for Simon Rogan to test the London waters with his Cumbrian fare.

Our meal began with a spectacular croquette of tender pork and smoked eel, served alongside a light cheese crisp topped with a cheese mousse and pickled onions. As our server lifted the mini cast iron lid, a fragrance of the outdoors was released – hay smoke had been piped into the dish and wafted up to compliment the smoked note of the eel.

Pork and eel croquettes

The breads came in form of onion & thyme, ale & wholemeal, and an English version of the classic German pumpernickel. These were accompanied with a light whipped butter.

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The pre-starter was a deliciously light mushroom mousse with pickled mushrooms, topped with a burnt onion crisp. It was like the most wonderful savory version of a creme brulee. The moreish creamy onion and mushroom flavours were brilliant with spherical droplets of garlic and a delicately young wild garlic leaf.

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The first course was swede dumplings, sprinkled with toasted barley and hogweed, and served in a rich flavourful roasted vegetable broth. The dumplings were smooth and earthy, and were complimented well by the savoury and flavoursome broth.

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The next course was Reg’s duck, with candy beets, gizzards and light mustard dressing. The duck had been stripped of it’s skin then slow cooked overnight. The skin was then reattached and cooked with the breast, creating what can only be described as the most perfectly cooked duck – pink and tender flesh with a crispy skin. The crunchy bitter cabbage and sweet beets added different textures and contrasting tastes to compliment the rich duck. And the drizzle of mustard-infused jus had just the right amount of punch to enhance the whole dish. Although I was raised on offal, trotters and other delightful entities of livestock/poultry, the other Food Potter couldn’t quite get used to the bitter, iron-tasting gizzards (while I happily chomped my way through them). The flavours of the gizzards can overpower the dish and I think it can take some getting used to. Whereas the other Food Potter would prefer to do without (and he had to mask the flavour with a swipe of the mustard dressing or sliver of beet), I would say that if you can hack the taste of liver (and then some), it’s not that bad!

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Our final course was a stunning plate of forced rhubarb, gingerbread crumbs, honeycomb ice cream and sorrel. It was exquisite to look at and even better to taste. The cubes of rhubarb were tangy and sharp, whereas the soft jellies and shards of rhubarb were deliciously saccharine. Combined with the smooth creamy ice cream and sugary, crunchy, gingery crumbs and fresh sorrel, this was a brilliant dessert that kept us going back for more!

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The meal ended with an apple mousse and stout jelly, topped with a sprinkle of granola. The apple mousse was soft and zingy while the jelly was bitter and delicious like a good pint should be. The granola was sweet and crisp, and all together it was a delightful combination of textures and tastes.

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We both agree that Simon Rogan is an exciting chef. We love his use of foraged ingredients, and where some have superfluously used this idea or bypassed the rest of the dishes, everything we tried was executed with perfection by the Roganic team. It’s no coincidence that we now want to head up north to his Cumbrian outpost L’Enclume. We’re sorry that we couldn’t write this post up earlier, friends. But how about a little secret between just between us. Roganic will resurface at another location in London pending approval. We’ll keep our ears to the ground, and as soon as we sniff this bad boy out, you’ll be the first to know. Promise.

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image1Imagine if a group of friends had an idea brewing over a few years to start a dining experience that wasn’t in a restaurant. Imagine if they wanted to offset the pop-up trend by not serving burgers, fried chicken or hotdogs, but take good food and modern cooking techniques into the upstairs of unassumming boozer in Camberwell, a stone’s throw from the road that conceived this very idea. Imagine if this group of men were headed up by a young aspiring chef who clocked up a few years at The Ledbury under the leadership of Brett Graham, and now at The Harwood Arms. Well that’s exactly what happened. The name you need to know is James Cochrane and the collective is called Camberwell Love. At the turn of May they took the leap and tested the waters. For two consecutive nights at The Recreation Ground, Camberwell Love held their interpretation of a pop-up dining event.

I was actually there on the second night. Upon arriving in the early evening, I had little to no expectation, I was simply there enjoying a cheeky Guinness. I had heard rumours that the previous night had faced teething problems. One of the team walked around the pub with a scrap of paper collecting £35 from each of the diners. I begrudgingly parted with the money, knowing there was no turning back and hoping it was going to be worth it, for I could have eaten like a king in Silk Road a few doors down. I was only there on an invite from my friend, who was connected to the group via a mutual friend. It turned out that most diners there were friends, family members, former housemates or a current manager…

When asked to take our seats upstairs, I walked past a crate emblazoned with their brand propped on a few kegs.

As soon as all the diners were seated, the show began. The breads arrived first, in the form of a caraway seed loaf, which was soft and pillowly with a perfect crisp crust.

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Next the amuse-bouche of cured salmon, radish and cucumber, delicately served on a small bite-sized spoon, may have been small in size but powerful in flavour. This was served with fried pigs ears that added crunch to the fleshy soft salmon.

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The salty flavours of the cured salmon were followed by smoked haddock, deliciously encased in breadcrumbs, served with morsels of Camberwell Love-cured bacon, all of which were tied together by a savoury cheese foam.

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Baked Cheltenham beets were next. Sweet with a mellow earthiness. They were drizzled in smoked bone marrow and served with soft cheese for richness plus roasted hazelnuts for nuttiness and texture. It was a brilliant dish.

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The Cornish sea bream followed. Cooked to perfection it was served with fennel cooked three ways; a grilled bulb, pickled fennel fronds and battered fried stalk. This was accompanied with a cooling yoghurt and curried oats.

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Next, the Brogdale assiette of pork, which comprised brawn that had been braised for a long time and then tied together again. The ‘croquette’ sat on a silky mash, which was also served with carrots and  cabbage. This was married altogether with a delicious jus. This was furthermore served with ribs.

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Like any good chef, James sent out his palette clensing pre-dessert of apple and lemongrass sorbet, which not only was a marriage of flavours made in heaven, but was right on time following a gargantuan feast of indulgent pork. The lemongrass had a beautiful lingering aftertaste, subtly adding freshness to the apple.

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The yoghurt pudding with pineapple, peanut brittle and olive oil was tart, crunchy and smooth all at the same time. A textural delight for my mouth!

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The meal ended on a gastronomical note, taking a 180 degree turn from the theme of the previous dishes – Jimmy’s gin and blood orange. This invloved Hendricks gin infused with rosemary and spherified balls of blood-orange juice. The balls were served in a shot glass, topped with the infused gin and a little pure blood-orange juice. It was a wildly refreshing combination. James did admit that the spherification didn’t pan out as he liked, and I did think that the balls had solidified to much. However, I don’t think he lost the impact of the blood orange freshness. Perhaps this concept and new found texture could be used for an alternative flavour such as a refreshing gazpacho as a pre-starter?

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I thoroughly enjoyed my dinner and was wowed by James’ talent. His friends gushed about his food, I can see why. Here is a dude who is clearly passionate about his food, and the hours he said he had to put in to prep everything beforehand, following his normal hours at work, was astounding. He is self critical, he is modest and he was open about his mistakes the evening before. James wants to cook honest good food and I think he is well on his way there. I will be keeping a close eye on him and Camberwell Love’s future endeavours.

Camberwell Love can be found on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/camberwelllove

Ramen

The 90s are back. Ramen is back. But this is post-Wagamama. These are the times of dedicated bars, for ramen is a craft. Of course, ramen migrated to Japan from China, but Bone Daddies comes via the influences of New York – Queen of late night hunger-satisfying pit stops before the long crawl of shame home. A bowl of ramen is the Japanese equivalent of a kebab. The rise in popularity is therefore befitting with the mushrooming of burgers, hot dogs and fried chicken.

When The Food Pot’s brother and his wife came to visit, we wanted to take them out for a meal reminiscent of their hedonistic student days in London. “Remember those 2-for-1 offers at Wagamama?” He said. “Remember when we’d all cram into those sharing benches after a hockey match?”

On that cold January evening we took them to Bone Daddies and the 6.30pm queue had already started. Luckily, we didn’t have to wait for a table to fit a hockey team, but it was a surprise it didn’t take too long for a table of 4, considering how achingly long queues had formed at nearby no-reservation places. It certainly was busy inside, slurp ‘n’ go is probably the ideal mantra to make staff lives easier here.

We started with edamame, fried chicken and soft shell crab, all of which were sound starters. The chicken was crisp and lightly spiced. The crab had a delicate light tempura-like batter and was served with a delicious zingy ginger and green chilli dipping sauce similar to that of a South Indian green chutney. Then we hit the ramen. We tried the Tonkotsu, T22 and the Sweet 3 Miso ramen.

Tonkotsu ramen

The 20 hour tonkotsu broth was rich and porky as expected, a really thick liquid that swathed around each individual tastebud. In comparison to the tonkotsu that we tried at Tonkotsu London (photos here), as a personal preference, I would opt for the latter on the basis of the broth, but only marginally. Although the bamboo and crispy garlic slices adds more to the dish here and the portion size was more generous.

Sweet 3 Miso

The Sweet 3 Miso, as the name suggests, was sweeter than the other two dishes. The butter added richness and a savoury note that helped counter the sweetness of the miso broth and corn.

T22

The T22 was bold and flavoursome, not as rich and gelatinous as the tonkotsu, as it’s a soy chicken broth based ramen. The soy added a salty and umami depth of flavour, along with the cock scratchings and seaweed for extra flavour and texture.

With four thumbs up, we all enjoyed Bone Daddies. The portions were of a decent size, the eggs were perfectly cooked with a runny yolk, the toppings for each ramen complimented the base stock well, and best of all, you can adjust your ramen to your liking with soy sauce, freshly pressed garlic, sesame seeds and chilli oil on the table. Price-wise, due to the location and speciality of the ramen bar, unlike Wagamama, you’ll be paying premium for a bowl, however, it won’t put us off our next visit. We highly recommend a trip to Bone Daddies!

bonedaddiesramen.com

31 Peter Street
London W1F 0AR

Bone Daddies on Urbanspoon

A quick simple lighter take on a classic dish. Full of different textures, this is a great dish for for a weekend dinner or for Chinese New Year this weekend.

Black Bean Chicken with Crispy Noodles

In our version, the noodles aren’t deep fried, instead they are pan fried until crisp, resulting in a crisp exterior with a softer inside, an armadillo if you like! Not only is it healthier, but it’s a little more practical that deep frying noodles at home.

Inspired by our many trips to HK Dinner in China Town, this dish is a firm favourite especially if you serve it with your favourite chilli sauce. Serve with our pan fried dumplings for a full on feast.

Serves 2

Chicken

2 skinless chicken breast, chopped into 2 cm cubes
1 green pepper, cut into the same shape pieces as chicken
2 garlic cloves, diced
1/2 medium red chili, de-seeded & sliced
1 tbsp dried black beans, roughly chopped (or 2 tbsp of black bean sauce)
2 generous handfuls of bean sprouts
1 small carrot, peeled & finely julienned (optional)
1 chicken stock cube dissolved in 250ml of boiling water
1 heaped tsp of cornflower, mixed with 2 tbsp of water to form a paste
dash of soy sauce
dash of sesame oil

Noodles

2 portions dried noodles
2 tbsp sunflower oil

Pre-heat an oven to 150ºC.

Cook the noodles as per the pack instructions. Drain, refresh with cold water, leave to drain and cool. Over a medium heat, pre-heat a wok or frying pan with 1 tbsp of oil until smoking hot. Pat the noodles dry of any excess water, divide into two, then form a disc-like shape. Cook the noodle disc on either side, 2-3 minutes, until crisp before transferring to a baking tray and popping into the oven until needed. Repeat.

For the chicken, lightly clean the wok or frying pan with a piece of kitchen paper. Add 2 tsp oil then heat over a high heat until smoking hot. Add the chicken, allow to brown all over for 1-2 minutes then remove from the pan into a bowl.

Wipe the pan clean again then heat another 2 tsp of oil until smoking. Add the pepper, garlic, chili, black beans (if using the sauce add with the chicken in the next step) and carrot, if using.

Cook for 1 minute to lightly soften then add the stock, bring to the boil, add the chicken back to the pan along with the cornflower paste and soy. Stir. Cover with a lid and allow to bubble away for 3 minutes. Test a piece of chicken (should be super soft & cooked through). Stir through the bean sprouts and sesame oil and allow to wilt a little. Check the seasoning, adjust to your liking.

To serve, place the crispy noodles on to two plates, spoon over the black bean chicken and serve with your favourite chilli sauce. Ours is Sriracha!

Chicken, Noodles, Hot Sauce!

HOMESLICE

Another day off, another visit to Eat Street, Kings Cross. This time to sample the lovingly handcrafted pizzas of Homeslice, cooked in their own custom-built wood fire oven.

Here is another street food vendor with a good simple menu; Margarita for the purists, Chorizo & Rocket for the carnivores & Artichoke & Zucchini for the vegetarians! Prices start at £3 for a slice, £5 for 2 slices and £9 for a whole pizza. I opted for the deal and went for a slice of chorizo & rocket and for a slice of the artichoke & zucchini.

The chorizo pizza had a base smeared with intense tomato sauce, topped with torn chunks of smoky flavourful chorizo, simply finished off after it came out of the oven with a handful of rocket and a generous grating of parmesan. Excellent slice!

The vegetarian offering was equally as good. This time they had opted for a blanco style pizza topped with pieces of soft stringy mozzarella, ribbons of perfectly cooked al dente zucchini (ahem…I mean courgette) and divine mouthfuls of artichoke. Another excellent combination of flavours.

A major element to making a good pizza is the dough. Get it right and you’re half way to a sensational experience. Homeslice have nailed it! The pizza dough is some of the best I’ve tasted – light & airy then crisp from the parts that have browned in the intense heat of the wood fire oven. So, so good when combined with their simple toppings.

Homeslice are starting to make a name for themselves and I for one look forward to sampling their tempting slices of yumminess again, either at Eat Street or one of the many residences they seem to be doing throughout London. I highly recommend you grab a Homeslice too!

Mother Flipper

Having missed out on sampling Mother Flipper at Brockley Market last month (sob…sob!), I decided to pop along to Eat Street during the week to sample one of their tempting-looking burgers.

Run by a handful of young guys, Mother Flipper is a regular at Brockley Market on Saturdays and at Eat Street during the working week. Like all good street food, the menu is small, the ingredients fresh and the staff friendly. The 3 burgers on offer are all cooked medium and range from £5 to £6 in price.

I opted for the £6 Double Bacon Flipper, a generously sized burger consisting of 2 burger patties covered in melted American cheese, stacked with candied bacon, pickles, shredded iceberg lettuce & onion in a soft, slightly sweet brioche bun with ketchup and American mustard. Delicious.

The meat was soft and full of flavour; the cheese gooey; the candied bacon sweet & salty (genius, loved it); and the pickles, lettuce and onion crispy and crunchy. The brioche bun played a key role too: its sweet flavour contrasted nicely with the salty flavours. The bun was lightly steam on the grill, giving it an attractive glaze but also making it soft and moist. Each bite made for a very tasty mouthful.

If I was being really pedantic, my only (small) complaint would be that my burger patties were a little overcooked, in effect, more well than medium. Also, I felt there was too much ketchup in the burger…but that’s just my personal taste!


Like Meat Liquor and Lucky Chip, Mother Flipper are producing quality burgers and I’m sure in the future you’re going to see a lot more of them. I, for one, look forward to the next time our paths cross and I can get my hands on another tempting Double Candied Flipper!

www.motherflipperburgers.com

Tiny Copenhagen is home to the world’s centre stage for modern food thanks to Noma. The small city is known for being incredibly stylish, understated and extremely friendly. There’s minimal fuss but my god, does it pack a punch. Half of me wanted to go so that I could live out my dream of being Sarah Lund, the other half was eager to eat my way around the city. Traditional Danish cuisine is said to be homely, stodgy, and particularly unglamorous. So I wanted to investigate how the rest of the world should see that, like style and design, food is synonymous with Copenhagen.

That’s what I set out to do when I first wrote up my posts. Upon reflection, I realized that I already knew the impact that Scandinavian food was having in NY and in London already. I just didn’t realize how much contrast the food scene in Denmark had been maybe 10 years or so back. Claus Meyer, co-founder of Noma, set out the following New Nordic Cuisine manifesto:

1. To express the purity, freshness, simplicity and ethics we wish to associate with our region.
2. To reflect the changing of the seasons in the meals we make.
3. To base our cooking on ingredients and produce whose characteristics are particularly excellent in our climates, landscapes and waters.
4. To combine the demand for good taste with modern knowledge of health and well-being.
5. To promote Nordic products and the variety of Nordic producers – and to spread the word about their underlying cultures.
6. To promote animal welfare and a sound production process in our seas, on our farmland and in the wild.
7. To develop potentially new applications of traditional Nordic food products.
8. To combine the best in Nordic cookery and culinary traditions with impulses from abroad.
9. To combine local self-sufficiency with regional sharing of high-quality products.

10. To join forces with consumer representatives, other cooking craftsmen, agriculture, the fishing, food, retail and wholesale industries, researchers, teachers, politicians and authorities on this project for the benefit and advantage of everyone in the Nordic countries.

Was it chance that the recommended places I ate at happened to follow the new way of cooking or was it just chefs all over Copenhagen had consensually decided that the industry just had to change and this quiet evolution had been taking place under France and Italy’s noses? It is definitely about quality, local produce and farm to fork eating and I could see that at every place I went to. Of course, 4 days isn’t nearly enough to conclusively define that, but it’s a good insight so far. The study doesn’t end there. I’m sure I’ll be back to lovely Copenhagen soon. Until then, velbekomme.

Read my reviews again here:
Torvehallerne KBH
Aamanns Deli
Anderson Bakery
Pate Pate
Kalaset