Sunday 17 June 2012

Simon Rogan's Great British Menu at Rogan and Co.

Great British Menu
We've watched the Great British Menu since day one. We cheered on our favourite chefs, and have sampled their 'Great British Menus' back in their restaurants. Can you imagine our excitement when one of our favourite chefs, Simon Rogan was to appear on the show? 

We are huge fans of L'Enclume, and hoped that he would bring something a little more exciting to the show. After winning the North West regional heat, Simon's dessert was picked for the banquet. We only had one option. We had to go and try this creation! So, my partner in crime, Mrs Petticoat (aka Vicki) booked us a table pronto. The Horwich Fine Dining Society were once again on tour. 

I hope you now understand the level of excitement we are talking about here? We were a little disappointed to hear that the Great British Menu was being served in L'Enclume's sister restaurant Rogan and Co. This also meant that we couldn't stay over in their rooms, and everywhere locally was booked up. So we booked a lunch reservation instead.

Yesterday Vicki called to check our reservation, and was informed that there was nothing there, and nothing that could be done. After a trip to work to retrieve the confirmation email, only then were we given a guarantee of a table. A table we booked weeks ago. This wasn't a great start, but we tried not to let it dampen our spirits. 

On arriving at the restaurant, we were seated and menus were brought over. It was Father's Day, so a special menu was also available. Unfortunately, this is where our experience started to go rapidly downhill. Please understand that I am not in the business of writing scathing reviews, and always try to remain constructive. I will therefore give you the facts. 

We were left almost twenty minutes without a drinks order being taken, whilst other diners were seated and theirs taken immediately. No apologies were made when it was taken, and the manager proceded to take our food order soon after that. About ten minutes later, some canapes arrived. I have to say these were lovely, if not a little hot! We didn't quite catch what they were, other than that they contained eel and had a smoky taste. I really liked these!
Simon Rogan Great British Menu Canapes
Then came some bread rolls. The bread itself was tasty, but we weren't actually told what flavours they were. One was clearly a crusty white roll, the other darker one had a treacly taste. These were a pleasant little filler as we were all starving!
Simon Rogan's Great British Menu - Bread Rolls
I was particularly excited about the starter, as it had been so well received by Marcus Wareing during the filming of the Great British Menu. It was a warm salad, which reminded me a little of the Satio Tempestas which we had at Frantzen/Lindeberg in March (which was phenomenal). I can only describe this dish as 'nice'. The leaves were crispy compared to the smooth custard and there were lots of little additions on the plate which added a certain something. However, having eaten at L'Enclume several times, this felt a bit like a watered down version of what Simon normally serves. 
Simon Rogan's Great British Menu - Grilled Salad
Grilled salad smoked over embers, ragstone, custard and cobnut
It was the fish course next. I'm not a huge fan of fish, but this one was lobster which I love. When this came, we all looked at each other in disbelief. Where was the lobster? There were two tiny pieces hidden under some yellow beetroot. When I got home I Googled a picture of what the dish had looked like on the TV. This reaffirmed what we had all thought. This dish was considerably smaller, and part of mine was overcooked.
Simon Rogan's Great British Menu - Lobster
Native lobster soaked in its own juices, with pickled beetroots,
sweet apple and cuckoo flower
Below is an image from the BBC website of the same dish. Considerably more lobster is served with this dish.
At this point the service slowed down considerably. Our waitress walked past our table several times, acknowledging that we still had plates in front of us and no drinks. In the end, we went and ordered drinks at the bar. It was nearly twenty minutes before our plates were removed. I would normally welcome a break before the main course, but we were all still ravenous!

We had been eyeing up the roast beef going past us which was on the Father's Day menu, and were looking forward to the suckling pig main. When it arrived it was tiny. Our hearts sank! The piece of pork belly was only twice the size of the canapes we had when we arrived. I have to say that the pork itself was obviously of high quality and was rich in flavour. I liked this. I would have just preferred to have slightly more of it. This amount is fine when you are in the middle of a fifteen course tasting menu, but in this instance was just not substantial enough for a main course.
Simon Rogan's Great British Menu - Pork
Suckling pig cooked 24 hours with northern mead and nasturtium 
After the main course, again we had a lengthy wait before our plates were removed and our desserts arrived. Unfortunately, this time we had no cutlery to eat it with. My husband asked at the bar and it arrived promptly. I enjoyed this dessert. The hazelnuts were made into a sweet brittle and the ice-cream was smooth and creamy. The pears were tangy and it worked well as a combination of flavours.
Simon Rogan's Great British Menu - Dessert
Hazelnuts and sweet cheese, rosehips and anise hyssop
After our meal, we all felt a little deflated. We had been really excited about going back to Cartmel for this special menu, and were about to leave feeling quite angry. I decided to speak to the manager in a quieter part of the restaurant. I explained that the portion sizes, the difference to what we had seen on the show and the poor service had meant that we had not had the greatest dining experience. He assured me that Simon had cooked the meals himself, and suggested that sometimes customers have high expectations because of what the judges say on the show. I explained that we were also judging today's food by the standards of previous meals at L'Enclume. He said he would feed this back to Simon. Although I appreciated the fact he was doing something with my feedback, I wanted some acknowledgement that front of house were just as much to blame. 

I really am a huge fan of Simon's, but I couldn't help but feel like this food was like seeing about 30% of what he is capable of. Likewise, we have had fantastic service in L'Enclume.

Please do not let my review of this one occasion put you off going to L'Enclume. We have had some fantastic experiences there and fully intend to go back. I think perhaps the concept of recreating the Great British Menu at Rogan and Co is flawed. I understand that there is a huge overhaul of menu and processes underway at Rogan and Co, so this may have contributed to the disjointed feel in the dining room.

The Great British Menu cost £59 per head for four courses. We did receive a discount based on our feedback.


  1. Oh dear :-(( Looks like one of those were you need to call for fish and chips on the way home to feel like you've eaten something? Good honest review though.

    1. It was a real shame. He's a talented chef!

  2. Such a shame. I am a complete GBM addict and would have been so excited too.

    1. Go to L'Enclume. It's amazing. One of my favourite restaurants ever...

  3. Such a shame. We ate there once when camping. Arrived scruffy & bedraggled but was only place open at 9pm & welcomed us with no snootiness.
    Agree with what you say about L'enclume. Several years ago now buy amazing!

    1. We've eaten at Rogan and Co before and had a lovely time. Just a bad day perhaps?

  4. Ahhh that is a shame, I'm a big fan of The Great British Menu too and would love to go to L'Enclume one day.

    1. Still go! You will have a wonderful time. I think this was a new experience which wasn't quite right. L'Enclume has been perfect every time...

  5. Since writing this Simon Rogan contacted me to advise that a full investigation is taking place into what happend on our visit. He assures me that this will not happen again.

  6. Hi Rachel, lovely review. I desperately want to go and try it good or bad. Hope you don't mind me asking what is the Horwich Fine Dining Society? And what is a Clandestine cake club, they seem to pop up everywhere.


    1. Thanks David! I would definitely recommend a visit, but I think the GBM might only be on until 23rd June (that's what we were told when booking anyway!) If it has finished, perhaps try L'Enclume?

  7. you should try the normal menu at rogan and co aswell. i ate there and it was amazing. 2 very good restaurants in cartmel

    1. We've actually eaten at Rogan and Co before and loved it. I'll be interested to see what it's like when they change it around!


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