‘Fera: (Adj.) Wild’
Overall rating: 4 stars
Price: £35 for a 3 course set menu & a glass of champagne – Fera via Bookatable
Simon Rogan recently earned the title of ‘one of the most innovative chefs in the country’ (The Guardian, 2014). Fera, meaning ‘wild’ in Latin, certainly reflects Rogan’s unique culinary style. Renowned for his locally foraged and seasonal ingredients, Rogan’s menu brings together an unusual blend of textures and flavours.
A curtain-lined rotunda acts as the restaurant’s entrance. Guests are then greeted by staff and led to the main dining room, designed by Guy Oliver. The architecture exudes art deco luxury in typical ‘Claridges’ style, with touches of modernism. Interestingly, Oliver’s design reflects Rogan’s distinct culinary flair, through emphasising natural elements such as natural wood tables (left bare without table cloths) and a colour scheme featuring soft, natural shades.
The meal began with an amuse-bouche: a chickpea wafer topped with blue cheese foam, a dash of elderberry and wild petals. These delicate flavours colluded fittingly, and the wafer had a nice crispness to it.
This was followed by a slice of warmed stout bread served with Cumbrian butter. The bread had a soft centre and firm crust, and a slight bitterness.
The set lunch menu offers enough variety. To start, I had the cured salmon with pickled mushrooms. The plate brought together an interesting blend of flavours, and was wonderfully presented, though the portion was slightly sparse. The stylistic unity of each plate accentuates the enchanting experience that Rogan creates. My friend, Sajni, had the ‘Grilled Salad’, comprised of vegetables cooked using Rogan’s signature ‘smoking’ technique, to produce a truly unique type of salad. This was drizzled with truffle custard which enhanced the smoky flavour.
For the main course I sampled the Cornish cod served with gem lettuce hearts and leaves, and jersey pearls. The sauce tasted fresh, and complemented the cod well.
The celeriac main was served with a range of vegetables. The pickled beetroot worked well with the earthy celeriac. Although tasty, the mains could have been slightly more filling, or at least served with side dishes.
The smoked chocolate cream desert was presented with peanut ice cream and verjus caramel. The smoky flavour of the chocolate cream was slightly overpowering and took time to adjust to, since the peanut ice cream wasn’t really strong enough to combat its smokiness. The bramley apple cake, served with cinnamon ice cream, was moist and delectable.
We ended the meal with some herbal teas and petit-fours. The presentation was exceptional – the teas were served with an hourglass that ensured the perfect brew. The mint leaves in my tea were especially fresh.
The service was great, the staff were very attentive and welcoming and were knowledgeable about the menu. My only grievance would be my communication with the restaurant prior to arrival. The restaurant requires a credit card to confirm your booking, but it was extremely difficult to speak to anyone by phone, and emails offered confusing and conflicting information about the cancellation terms.
The set menu was definitely value for money, considering all the added extras in between. Fera’s clientele ranges from couples, to business-people. It is definitely worth trying at least once, however, the atmosphere lacks a certain vibrancy that would encourage people of my own age group to visit repeatedly. Having said this, one cannot fault the presentation, technical ability of the chefs, and Rogan’s intriguing menu which is unlike any other.
Fera is exactly what you’d expect of a fine dining restaurant, offering class and elegance in décor and service, along with high-quality ingredients. What distinguishes the meal from other restaurants of similar calibre is the unifying theme based on a close affinity to nature, offering a unique dining experience that was consistent throughout the food, décor and atmosphere. The dishes were often served on creative crockery, for example, a bowl mimicking the design of a tree bark. Rogan is the most notable exponent amongst a broader culinary movement, where chefs seek to use their plates as a means to tell the story of the nature that surrounds them – a concept that is particularly favourable in Northern Europe. The irony of a ‘farmer-forager’ from up north being responsible for running the restaurant at the paragon of British establishment and tradition is often noted by critics – but Rogan has certainly proved his excellence.
London W1K 4HR
Tel: +44 (0)20 7107 8888
Lunch: 12:00 – 14:00 daily
Dinner: 18:30 – 22:00 daily