It’s been quite a while since I had felt the sheer fear I felt opening the doors and walking into L’enclume. The last time I felt such a fear I was wearing sport shoes with sticky out bits on the bottom and it was raining. It was also Tuesday.
You’re reading this because you are ace and a foody and already know about L’enclume so I don’t need to go over any of the usual jazz / tasting menu / foraging / local food. You know it has two Michelin stars, you know Rogan is in charge and it is the natural pilgrimage for all food wankers.
This isn’t going to be an ace food review, as always check out bacon on the beach for a much better review with much better photography. This is more of a mind/soul rant.
It took absolutely months to get in here.
I’m in search of some kind of mind taxi for food. All this high end jazz we see on’th telly, the micro herbs, foraged this, pickled this, fermented and hydrogenised that…is it actually tasty? Can you taste the effort?
See slightly pre l’enclume vlog below…
I need a benchmark, a scale. I know this adventure will cost more than a holiday, but I need to know what I’m aiming for in my own attempts at cooking and eating. Especially at the moment. I’m really lost in my own cooking. I’m lost at sea in a really shit dingy and not sure which way to steer, or if I should even bother.
So L’enclume was quite important to my cooking mind.
So here I am hanging around outside with Simon’s Van, he’s probably out foraging.
So as with lake road kitchen, some courage was needed to open the double doors of frosted two michelin star glass to the church of Rogan. I needed to upgrade to whisky.
Scared shitless, heart beating, I pushed open the doors. A man shook my hand, he wore a waistcoat, he was probably Simon’s Besty. Lead to a table in the conservatory in the corner….safe.
“So where have you come from” I was asked.
I basically stalled and was unsure what was being asked of me and how to respond.
I think I was still stood up at this point…other people may have been watching wondering what this beautifully sculpted boy was doing in flip flops in a two star michelin restaurant.
The next 15 minutes was a blur, I think I remained standing for a quite a bit, my memory returns to a point several minutes later when I am finally sat down and have some fizzy rose.
Before I get cracking, poorly ranting about the food, I’m going to mention the wine.
If you know me or have seen / touched me you will be aware of my fondness for the box wine. I’m a bottom shelf type of guy, maybe the next shelf up. The cap is basically £6.00. The lovely wine chap from L’enclume warped my world.
Having come all this way and knowing I’d be completely scared of the wine list and doing that thing you do were you pick the second cheapest wine, I went with the wine flight.
(The business credit card will be able to take it (just – Hiya Liz!! (Sorry! (We got there though didn’t we! (don’t kill me when you see the receipt))) ))
All the wine throughout the night was GLORIOUS there were about 10 of the damn things, 2 or 3 were actually magical, I have no idea what they were, I remember vlogging them, I’ll put the video at the end. A stand out wine was the first, a glorious cloudy orange/red wine that was like nothing I had ever tasted. Seriously fucking nice wine.
If you are reading this and considering L’enclume, please do the wine flight. The wine chap was so cuddly, passionate and warm.
I’m conscious I have been writing for about an hour now and not even got to the food, I’ll stop ranting and get to it.
The oyster pebbles are a L’enclume staple, if you google l’enclume these pebbles are right up there. They have been on the menu a while. They come served on some real pebbles and a joke told no doubt THOUSANDS of times before about finding the edible ones.
After the first bite I basically gave in to the hype and would of given Simon Rogan a night of pure pleasure of his own choosing (I have 300 tesco club card points) based purely on this pebble.
I hated this feeling. I wanted to put this in my mouth and just be blazé and be the guy that said that it didn’t live up to hype.
I’m not going to attempt to describe the flavours or textures, I can’t remember, I just remember being tantalised and entertained, confused and pleasured by a bite of something I have never tasted or experienced before.
Beetroot, horseradish snow
Not quite as epic. Only because I’m being harsh because I’m allowed to be because few others do with L’enclume. Some kind of crispy puffy beetroot with a horseradish snow or sorbet. Don’t get me wrong, nice, but lives in the shadow of the pebble. It’s also one of those combinations you see in #trendy #bistros.
This once more blew my mind. A perfect dumpling cylinder with slow oxtail joys inside, all encased in crispy chicken skin bits. Just glorious, read other reviews for better reviews, but I’ve had to add another night to Simons night of pleasure.
Smoked eel with ham fat
Possibly the trendiest of all dishes, these little joys came on hay under a dome of smoke. I think I stalled again with this one, I remember having half in my mouth and half in my hand when they came to try and prise the plate away from my hands. I would have fought them to hang on to that plate and savour every last drop of whatever the hell that white sauce was underneath the spherical eel joys.
Scallops, strawberry vinegar, yarrow
Duck gizzard, whey onions, Tunworth
The L’enclume bags again are a famous staple, the contents however change very regularly. Today they were filled with a whey buttery sauce with tasty slowly cooked onions and little chunks of duck gizzard. SIMPLY GLORIOUS.
These were extremely reminiscent in texture and taste of my own creation “Fizzy cheese” ™ Maybe there is hope for me and #bistrobistro after all?
Broth of artichoke, westcombe, pork fat and fennel
This one wasn’t quite to my taste, but I’m not an epic fan of fennel or artichoke
Shorthorn, charcoal oil, mustard, apple and celeriac
Another famous Rogan creation, he has a similar version at The French in Manchester, but he uses more balls of things there. I wanted to hate this. It’s basically raw beef with oil infused with burnt charcoal.
It was bloody gorgeous. I don’t want to be a Rogan fan boy, but this was special. It tasted like a burger. Even though everything was raw, it had that burnt bbq taste, the beef was so tender, the little spheres of apple and celeriac were almost candid and just popped in your mouth releasing their juice.
I’d been waiting for this dish for a while. Jumping Christopher this was something special.
Grilled lobster and parsnip, nasturtium and apple
For me this was just some bits and bats on a plate, VERY NICE bits and bats, but didnt make me go into space on a flying boat.
Aynesome carrot with scurvy grass, crispy onion and red mustard
“CARROTS” Our trendy man said as he popped the plate down on the table.
Again, another epic surprise, I know these are just Simon’s carrots done in loads of different ways, but it was perfect, sweet and crispy and tangy and not tangy and everything at once.
Brill in poultry juices, lovage, yeast flake, fermented mushroom
Another slight miss for me. Don’t get me wrong EXCELLENT and ace and meaty and gorgeous, but when I think back to the dumplings and the other things, this wasn’t in the same league.
Goosnargh duck, red currant, turnip and chanterelle
Unfortunately another slight miss for me, even though it was gorgeous and the best duck I have EVER had, the thigh section fell apart in juicy ecstasy, the breast a little chewy..but maybe that is duck?
Quince and buttermilk, plumbs, apricot kernel and honeycomb
I hate deserts. Everybody gets excited when a cake comes out. I just wish they had come out with some bacon, or a jug of gravy and something to dip in it. That’s just me, I know I’m broken, it just leaves more cake for all the cake fans.
I can’t really remember the bottom right dodah, but CHRISTOPHERS KITE the butter cream ice cream was just seaside wonders.
Butternut squash, sea buckthorn and almonds
This was the highlight out of everything.
My photo is shit and does NO justice at all to the majesty of this. If this plate was an epic pyramid scheme, I’d give them my £10 straight away. Take my cats and everything I own. Take my business, my soul. This plate has ruined my life.
None of that should go together. I don’t even know what buckthorn is.
The wine the wine chap served with it said it was the liquid version of the dish.
And it was.
And that winds me the HELL up. This was nice. The accompanying wine was good. It was perfect and something new, something exciting and mind blowing and that both inspires and upsets me.
Meadowsweet, apple, sorrel and yoghurt
Another l’enclume staple, some sorbets in cornets.
I’m quite aware that I sound a bit of a dick.
I am a little mixed up and unsure how to process this evening. EVERYTHING was nicer than anything I have ever had, but because 4 or 5 of these things nearly made me cry I seem to have judged everything else a bit harsh.
I came here hoping it would just be stuff on a plate. I was hoping it wasnt going to be that good and I could go home and continue in the kitchen thinking I’m a legend.
An extremely EPIC amount of effort has gone into everything about this damn place. Again, read the other guys for proper reviews, I can only say how it has now destroyed me.
It’s taken me two days to write this. I’m sat here day two, unsure what this has done to me, the whole thing was a dream, something that happened to somebody else I KNOW THIS SOUNDS WANKY.
Im going to be back for another rant when I work out what is going on. But this was just art and it has broken me. Im not sure if for the good or the bad.
Get the wine.