We were greeted with a glass of Chapel Down sparkling wine from Kent (very good) and a couple of amuse. There was a squid ink crouton with smoked cream cheese and celery cress, and a beef coquette with corned beef, apple, cress, carrot and grain mustard mayo. Both were delicious - the beef dense and chewy, and the richness offset by the crisp apple. Smoked cream cheese is also a revelation - the really tangy sourness cutting through the umami /iodine flavour of the crouton.
We left ourselves in the hands of the staff and settled in for the tasting menu. First came the millet pudding with grains, burnt red pear, tangy rich Devon blue cheese and honey cress. This is a beautiful dish, sitting in its green pool - the burnt edge to the pear adding an extra dimension to a familiar cheese pear combination. The grains were chewy but soft and yielding and topped with sea kale, not too much iron intensity.
° grated chocolate. The King Richard leek is first intensified through sous vide in a water bath for several hours, before being baked in its clay coat. Served with beautifully scented sorrel, rosemary, puffed rice, shallots and bacon cream, the shallot is intact but yielding, intense in its meaty sauce, yet preserving the integral taste of the leek.
For dessert, a pool of warm salted chocolate is poured for you at the table, with toasted almonds and sloe sorbet. It's dressed with sweetly aniseed flavoured atsina cress and tiny diced zinging pear - a dense but refreshing combination.
We finish with a fir milkshake and cupcakes spiked with rosehip and popping candy - the depth and warmth of the warm milk feel like a bedtime treat, leaving you relaxed and complete.
I must admit to initially feeling a little disappointed with the menu, but it quickly became apparent that even more effort had gone into these dishes than those in the summer. It's much easier to arrange fabulous fresh ingredients at the height of the summer - working a little bit of magic on the humble winter leek is much more difficult, and actually shows the lengths that Roganic will go to stay true to their seasonal and local credentials. Personally I like all those amazing raw summer ingredients, but the Hubby preferred the rich intensity of the winter menu. This is the point of Roganic, to suggest that it makes you think about your food would do it a disservice - this is food you can just eat because it tastes delicious. But personally I like to think about my food, to question my attitudes, and I came away from Roganic even more impressed by their repertoire. Hurry up Spring, I want to see what's coming next...
The Current Menu
10 Course Lunch / Dinner Menu £80
Millet pudding with grains, burnt pear and Devon blue
Smoked Braddock White, pickled roots, wild chervil and salt beef
Roasted Looe scallops, purple sprouting and chokeberry vinaigrette
Poached and grilled king oyster, pine, beetroot and coastal sea leaves
Caramelised cauliflower, sour cream, raisin, roasted lettuce and pennywort
Mr Little’s Yetholm Gypies cooked in chicken fat, snow peas and mussel juice
Plaice poached in fennel stock, sea beet, preserved leek and sprout leaves
Gressingham duck, carrot, mayweed and smoked redcurrants
Warm salted chocolate, toasted almonds and sloe sorbet
Yorkshire rhubarb, dried caramel, natural yoghurt and iced lemon thyme
All of these gorgeous photos were taken by Paul Winch-Furness for Roganic
and are reproduced here with his kind permission...
For more examples of Paul's work go to www.paulwf.co.uk
Follow Paul on twitter as @paulwf