So on a sunny Saturday, we drove up to Cumbria to the beautiful grey-stoned village of Cartmel for a lunch date with one Michelin-starred restaurant Rogan and Co.
Just days before the famous races, the quaint village had a definite buzz in the air. We parked up at the Cartmel Racecourse itself, where sprinklers left shimmering rainbows above the course as a game of cricket took place nearby. It was quite the English idyll.
We wandered over, taking in the sights, to Rogan & Co situated in an unassuming 14th century building next to the trickling River Eae in the centre of Cartmel.
To the uninitiated, Simon Rogan is somewhat of a legend as he also owns L’Enclume, which has three Michelin stars, five AA rosettes, and a reputation for excellence. He is also known for training up notable chefs including Mark Birchall at Lancashire’s two Michelin-starred Moor Hall.
The Rogan and Co concept is a more relaxed affair, although held to the same high standards. The menu here is creative but comfortable, reinvented regularly by Simon and executive chef Tom Barnes.
Produce for both restaurants is grown on nearby Our Farm – Simon’s farm in the Cartmel Valley - and they strictly use only the best ingredients.
The restaurant itself is simply and comfortably furnished, letting the atmospheric stone building tell its own story while reserving the glory for the food.
As part of the experience at Rogan & Co all guests are invited to choose three courses from a seasonal selection of dishes, all of which are served alongside snacks to start with, a pre-dessert and petit fours to end the meal. All this at a set menu price of £79 which makes the experience more accessible.
Menu highlights include Old Winchester cheese dumplings, onion dashi, lemon thyme; Grilled hake with leeks cooked in miso, fermented celeriac & hazelnut; Buttermilk custard, Yorkshire rhubarb, hazelnut & farm sorrel – hungry yet?
First up was ‘snacks’; a trio of Cod’s roe tartlet, Parmesan Sable with artichoke cream and an aged beef dumpling. All a mouthful and all cleverly designed to warm up the taste buds.
I personally cannot resist a dumpling and the Old Winchester Cheese dumplings were simply delicious to start, served with a French onion soup-esque Onion Dashi – I really need the recipe to that one, it was divine. Gray plumped for Herdwick lamb belly croquettes with crushed pea, mint and cucumber which was stunning in presentation and melted on his tongue.
Next a palate cleanser, which set us up for the main event, which for me was a perfectly cooked Parmesan-crusted cod, with asparagus, broad bean and shrimp sauce, while Gray opted for Dexter beef cheek, cooked for 24 hours and comes with garlic, broccoli and onions – it was divine.
Already full, but high on flavour, we opted for Dark chocolate fondant with mandarin and sea salt (him) and I chose Buttermilk custard, Our Farm strawberries and sorrel. All delicious and all beautiful.
The entire experience was a feast of the senses, visually and in depth of flavour, a real treat. Never mind Michelin, 10 stars from me and thanks for the flowers.