Dining at Simon Rogan's Fera at Claridge’s is a privilege any self-respecting foodie must savour at least once in their lifetime. Foraging and using locally sourced ingredients are words Simon Rogan made famous on his menus way back in 2002 at his famous Cumbrian restaurant, L’Enclume. Getting a table at Fera is no mean feat with the lengthy waiting list and a tasting menu that costs £110.
Fortunately for those in the know, you can know experience a slice of Simon Rogan magic with no reservations at a fraction of the price. They have recently launched their bar snacks menu, which is charged at £15 for 5 options. The seasonal menu changes regularly, but there is one item that remains constant on the menu: stewed rabbit with lovage. This culinary work of art takes 5 days to prepare; the rabbit isn't too gamey tasting, whilst the outer layer is a ball of gently fried crispy onion delights and the dollop of lovage adds a sweet herbal edge to the dish.
Crackers are a very common bar snack, but the version here is as elegant as you will find in any establishment, flavoured with seaweed and topped up with delicate pieces of lemon sole and sea herbs. Even by the high standards of Claridge's, this is the ultimate indulgent bar snack for fine dining enthusiasts. The chickpea wafer with cow's curd and vinegar is filled with intense flavours despite its lack of size and is beautifully decorated with floral garnishes no doubt foraged from the restaurant's own farm in Cumbria.
They have some outstanding seasonal cocktails to match with the bar snacks menu with a significant portion of the ingredients also foraged from Simon Rogan's farm. I tried an extremely refreshing cucumber gin cocktail which was flavoured with green apple, yoghurt and caraway. There was also a very summery vermouth cocktail with pea shoots and apple marigold. The real standout for me was their take on the bloody mary with a strong, sturdy taste using Isle of Wight tomato, horseradish and mustard vodka.
If there is anything disappointing, it is the limited seating capacity at the bar. There are only 4 well-padded bar stools and you are placed in a secluded corner of the restaurant so you do miss some of the elegance of the dining room. However, when you don't have to book months in advance and pay tasting menu prices, this is a delightful option for those who want to experience the Simon Rogan magic on a whim.
Words by Baldwin Ho