Michelin star dining in London can be stiffer than a starched white cravat. The layers of complex cutlery, the endless processions of amuse bouche, and the eerily quiet rooms where you can hear a parmesan tuile crack.
Don’t get us wrong, we’ve been blessed to eat in such fine establishments, but we’ve long searched for a restaurant that serves top quality nosh minus the pomp.
Step in Simon Rogan. To quote his lovely website verbatim Simon is “one of the most accomplished and well respected chefs in the UK”. You might remember him from the Great British Menu where he nabbed the dessert crown in season 7, or you might know that he’s famed for foraging. Either way we think he’s a bit of a legend and jumped for joy to get a table at his London outpost Fera.
Fera opened its doors earlier this year in Claridges (incidentally one of our very favourite London hotels). Now we know what you’re thinking: a Michelin starred restaurant situated in a luxury 5 star London hotel, that just screams stuffy & staid. But despite the extremely grand setting, Fera is comfortable and friendly. Granted, there are the usual ‘Michelin’ touches such as the sommelier with his extensive wine list and the ballerina grace with which the waiting staff deploy the plates, however there’s none of the stiffness or snobbery.
This egalitarianism is echoed in their £30 set lunch menu, available Monday to Sunday. With a choice of two starters, mains and desserts the set menu gives you fine dining at a fraction of the cost. We only opted to go a la carte because the whimsically named ‘Chick o’ Hake’ main sounded too good to pass up.
A few amuse bouches were indeed trotted out but each was thoughtful and thoroughly delicious. The lightest blue cheese came served up on a thin, crunchy wafer which melted away in your mouth. A cliché yes but a very yum one. An airy, dreamy salmon roe mousse was topped with crunchy, toasted nibbles of sourdough. Even the bread & butter was elevated; soft, warm hunks of brown bread slathered with caramelised butter. Salty, doughy, sweet goodness.
We munched on scallops to start. With roast parsnips, hazelnuts and meadowsweet they were perfectly cooked and seriously savoury.
Next up came Cornish lamb, potatoes and onions. A simple sounding dish but the flavours were anything but. Garlic chives and apple vinegar rounded out what was a damn good main. To be honest there’s only one word that could do it justice – yum.
The chick o’ hake didn’t disappoint either. Tender fish topped with crispy chicken skin. A novel take on surf n’ turf.
We stuffed ourselves silly to the point where dessert was out of the question. Or perhaps we did that deliberately to give ourselves an excuse to go back.
So the next time you fancy a bit of haute cuisine don’t shy away from the Michelin star, just make your way to Fera.