Mr Coopers House and Garden, Manchester.

mr coopers house and garden , Manchester.

I reckon I must be the last of the Northern `foodies` to try Mr Coopers house and Garden restaurant. Some greedy Gannets like number one food blogger Hungry Hoss have dined here on multiple occasions in the 18 months that the restaurant has been open. Cory, my daughter needed to be in Manchester for a meeting with her new agent so that left me with a couple of hours to eat. It was valentines weekend and the whole city seemed to be booked solid.  Mr Coopers was, as I expected, fully booked and so a quick message to Mr `Hungry Hoss` and a few Tweets later we had a table for two put aside. And so my Valentines weekend unfolded. A romantic table for two with  `The Hoss` , complete with his flat cap and a foot long goatee. He really didn`t really  make good `eye candy` tableside viewing so hopefully the food would tickle my fancy a little better.Chef Simon Rogan runs Mr Coopers house and garden restaurant as well as “The French” ( and 4 other UK restaurants). Both are situated inside Manchester`s Midland hotel. The last time I was in the Midland Simon took me for a little look  at  Mr Coopers house , it was an upside down building site. 3 weeks after that it was transformed into the beautiful restaurant you can see below.

mr coopers house and garden , Manchester.

One thing that really impressed me was the Menu, it was attractively priced with plenty of choices to pick from. 10 starters priced at around £6.50.  10 Mains around £16 and 10 Desserts at £7. At these prices it brings high end well cooked food into the scope of most diners so that was really nice to see. Over the last 10 years I have been really blessed to sample all of the stages and developments of Rogans food  . I`ve been there since Lenclume opened its doors and followed the team through all of their ventures throughout the UK to their current project “Fera” in Claridges , London. The Rogan empire now consists of 6 outlets encompassing Pub food , Bistro and fine dining. There`s something there for everyone so pop along to the Midland hotel and give Mr Coopers a go…Don’t know why it took me so bloomin long. Ill be back for more soon though.

PRICES – 3 courses a la carte for an attractive £25.00. 3 course Sunday roast lunch for £19.00,  and a 3 course set lunch. £20.00.

Cocktails in the bar area

mr coopers house and garden , Manchester.

Home made Sourdough , whipped Butter and Salt flakes.

mr coopers house and garden , Manchester.

Blue cheese puffs , Celery and Chilli.

mr coopers house and garden , Manchester.

Pork scratchings and Apple gel

mr coopers house and garden , Manchester.

Raw Beef with pickled Paw Paw , toasted Rye bread croutons and sweet Chilli jam.

mr coopers house and garden , Manchester.

mr coopers house and garden , Manchester.

Buttermilk fried Oyster , Kimchee puree , Pear and pickled Fennel.


mr coopers house and garden , Manchester.

Roasted sweetheart Cabbage steaks , Teriyaki sauce , grated Wiltshire Truffle and hot Wasabi mayonnaise.

mr coopers house and garden , Manchester.

Cumbrian Rib steak , Truffle pudding and purple potato Latkes

mr coopers house and garden , Manchester.

Carrot and Olive oil cake with blood Orange sorbet.

mr coopers house and garden , Manchester.

Caramel tart with Marscapone ice cream.

mr coopers house and garden , Manchester.

Lavender dusted Churros , Caramel and Junket mousse.

mr coopers house and garden , Manchester.

mr coopers house and garden , Manchester.

To view all the photos from our lunch then please CLICK HERE

Mr Cooper's House and Garden on Urbanspoon

FERA – At Claridges , London.

fera at claridges

It was a cold December Saturday night in London and my first ever trip to Claridges for dinner. I was accompanied by a couple of my foodie friends ( David from the Critical couple blog and Kevin Finediningexplorer ).I `was` going to leave my camera at the hotel and have a blog free evening but seeing as though it`s surgically attached to my face I ended up taking it. Basically we were just heading there to support Simon Rogans new venture and to have a good old lads gossip and plenty of wine as this was the official start to my Xmas wind down.

fera at claridges

The `Fera` xmas tree in all of its glory takes centre stage inside the restaurant.

fera at claridges

So straight on to the food. We opted for the Tasting menu (£95) and also the accompanying wine flight selected by our Sommelier. Our Chef for the evening was Dan Cox who took up the position of Head Chef after spending the last few years up in Cumbria at Rogans flagship restaurant  Lenclume in Cartmel.

fera at claridges

Stewed Rabbit with Lovage.

fera at claridges

Mackerel , Horseradish and Seaweed.

fera at claridges

Smoked Roe and Red Cabbage.

fera at claridges

Swede dumplings with Isle of Mull Cheese and Wiltshire Truffle.

fera at claridges

Raw Veal , Oyster , Kohlrabi and Apple.

fera at claridges

Prawns in Sprout leaves, Crispy Pork and Sunflower seeds.

fera at claridges

fera at claridges

Scallop , Carrots , Hazelnuts.

fera at claridges

Sea Bass , Salsify , Razor Clams and Sea herbs.

fera at claridges

Goosnargh Duck breast with Cabbage , Leek , Chanterelle , Mead and Juniper cream.

fera at claridges

fera at claridges

Cornish Lamb ,Sweetbreads ,Potatoes and Onions, Garlic Chives and Apple Vinegar.

fera at claridges

Chocolate Malt nitro , Prune and Dandelion.

fera at claridgesAerated Rosehip mousse , Anise Hyssop , Sweet Potato and White Chocolate.

fera at claridges

fera at claridges

Figs,  Gingerbread, Yoghurt.

fera at claridges

Liquorice cake , Pumpkin and Whiskey , Elderberry Marshmallow , Hazelnut Jelly.

fera at claridges

fera at claridges

fera at claridgesfera at claridges                    fera at claridges

fera at claridges

To view all of the photos from the menu then please CLICK HERE
Fera At Claridge's on Urbanspoon

Rogan & Company – Late Summer Tasting menu.

A last minute request to work the weekend ended up spoiling my well made plans so a quick message down to Cartmel and i was smiling again. I managed to get booked in for a last minute Friday lunch slot and a marvellous late summer tasting menu cooked by head chef Kev Tickle. I`ve already blogged R&Co so i`ll go straight to the food.

Westcombe Cheese cracker with pickle.


Cured Bessy beck Rainbow Trout with Oyster and Dittander emulsion , Nasturtiums and Sourdough crisp.



Crispy Pigs trotter with heritage Potatoes , runner Beans and a Mugwort cream.


Cartmel valley Pigeon with creamed Kale , Camomile and Blackcurrant.


” A foragers play on Marks signature ” – Beefsteak fungus tartare with Garlic aioli , Shallot jam , Ramson ( wild garlic ) capers , Coal oil and Local fungi. ( The wild fungi are Chanterelle and Amethyst deceiver ).There was also Reindeer moss / lichen added to finish the dsh off perfectly….a work of art.



I like to think i`m a bit of an amateur fungi hunter myself but this was the first time i`d ever set eyes on one of these mushrooms…. It`s a Beefsteak fungi , named for very obvious reasons…wow.


This was a brilliant and alternative , very well thought out twist on a Rogan / Birchall classic signature dish. At Lenclume , the meat in this dish is normally Cartmel valley Venison ( see pic below )  whilst at “The French” in Manchester they use raw Ox. Kev Tickle replaced the meat with Beefsteak fungus and i sat looking at the plate open mouthed , what a guy and what a stunning plate of food.


Grilled Cod with heritage Radishes , Turnip and coastal greens.


Goosnargh Guinea hen with Bacon , Celeriac and oyster mushrooms.


Caramelised Apple with Plum crumble ice cream and Apple marigold.


Meadowsweet ice cream with sour Yoghurt meringue, Granola , Honeycomb and flowers.



Blackberry parfait with Cobnut frangipane , poached Blackberries , Douglas fir and Oxalis.


Once again an amazing lunch with the Cartmel team , service excellent , faultless flow and i`m buzzing over it. Back to Lenclume next for an Autumn feast with chef Mark Birchall.

Rogan & Co – Summer Tasting menu introduced.

20140725_111905This was my second trip to Rogan & Co in the village of Cartmel , Cumbria. Chef Kevin Tickle has now settled into place and after much staff discussion a new Tasting menu has been introduced. This consists of  8 courses for £65  ( plus a few little extra taster courses) and will be changing constantly as each season progresses which is good news. Running along side of the Tasting menu is the a la carte menu. I had a little preview of this one during my visit and the first thing that hit me was the pricing……WOW. For food cooked to this standard and of this quality i think the vast majority of diners will be more than happy. Top marks for the pricing here guys , it`s absolutely perfect for those wanting a beautiful meal in very relaxed surroundings.


Things are taking off in a new direction now as Rogan and Co develops into a unique restaurant within it`s own right. It has been operating now for a number of years,  just plodding away in the village contently at a steady pace. Rogan recently appointed Kevin Tickle as the new head chef and John Strange started as the restaurant manager. Decor and kitchen were upgraded and a new menu and approach structured. I personally feel that it was akin to letting a Greyhound out of its trap. The changes are quite dramatic , the staff are all hungry for success  and i think that before long , diners will be travelling to Cartmel just to eat at Rogan & Co and  the food of Kevin Tickle. I mentioned last time about the wonderful package plan  –  Friday dinner at Rogan & Co , Saturday dinner at Lenclume , and Sunday lunch at the Pig n Whistle. Now that`s got to be the ultimate foodie weekend , what a treat…..and yes , im plugging it , I`m a local and i`ve been a customer  here since Lenclume opened its doors. I  know only too well the smiles it can put on visitors faces.

So on with the food and the new Tasting menu at Rogan & Co. As i said , there wil be tweaks and changes to the menus as things progress but at least this will hopefully show the  style and quality all around of what`s going to be coming your way.

Home made Butter and Sourdough Bread – They sure have cracked this wonderful stuff…Best Bread I`ve eaten for a long time. The problem is though…Theres 10 courses to go….absolutely deadly , so good it`s impossible to keep off.



Westcombe Cheese cracker , Pickled Onion , Cheese snow.

Cockles with Coastal offerings and Seawater jelly.
Fresh Buffalo Curds – Buffalo Curds, Grilled Courgettes, Lovage, crispy Pumpernickel and Nasturtium



Bessy beck Rainbow Trout – House cured with Fennel, fresh Cucumber, Dill and sour Cream  – This dish i can only describe as `Summer on a plate` , Refreshing , light , stunning to the eye and highly aromatic.

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Ox Tongue Salad – Roasted  Ox tongue and  grilled Tundra Cabbage with valley offerings and smoky Bone Marrow cream. – It was like eating the finest piece of melt in the mouth Steak. Paired up with the smokiness of the Bone marrow cream this one made for a beautiful combination of flavours.



Diver caught Isle of Skye Scallops – Seared Scallops with sea Fennel,  Wild Blaeberry , Roasted Cauliflower puree and barbequed Cauliflower –  One of my closed eyes moments. I  love Scallops cooked in any way but this one hit my magic button right away. A classic heavenly marriage of Cauliflower taken to another level after being Barbequed and then pureed …oh wow. Just to top that off it was then given another level of tart sweetness with a syrup of Wild Blaeberries ( Blueberries ) which are currently in full fruit on the lake district mountain tops.





Wild brill  – Brill cooked in Brown Butter with Oyster and Dittander cream, grilled blood red Holland Onions and Kohlrabi. This was my favourite course of the day.Perfectly moist fish with the gently cooked cubes of Kohlrabi.The flavours were basic and simple and the only chemistry here was the natural flavours of prime seasonal produce.


P1120473 P1120477  Cartmel Valley Roe deer – Crusted Almond and Juniper Venison haunch, Pablo Beetroot and rainbow Chard. –  An extra complimentary course here for lucky old me. This one was a recipe in progress so i gave it a little road testing to air my views. The Venison was well cooked and tender , a nice subtle game flavour came through and paired up nicely with the Nut crumb coating. Baby beets , Crispy heritage Beetroot and a smooth sweet puree of Beetroot accompanied the Venison and it was a really enjoyable dish to eat slowly and savour every mouthful. Personally i would have liked to have seen the addition of something carrying a degree of tartness just to add that finishing touch and complete a hit on the senses of  Savoury , Sweet , and  Sour ( my trips to Asia rubbing off on me )



Dexter Beef – Beer fed Dexter rib with grilled young Cabbage, Hen of the woods and Sea Rocket dressing



Toffee Malto , Molasses gel , Pineapple Weed ice cream.


Poached Gooseberry – Gooseberries poached in sweet wine with Apple Marigold, Apple mousse and crumble ice cream   –  Now C`mon guys , my immediate reaction was an open mouthed one as soon as i spotted the `suspect` leaves. I know Mr Rogan loves his twists on the normal and Chef Kev Tickle is a master of the foraging but serving `Ganja` leaves on a dessert…..Whaaaaat ?  I asked my server what they were….She laughed. I asked the restaurant manager what they were….He laughed. Surely not. Anyways , during my drive back home i only ended up  buzzing off the meal and not the crazy herbs. After a quick a search on google it turned out to be an Apple flavoured herb called Tagetes Minuta or Mexican Margigold.





Yorkshire Strawberries – Macerated Strawberries with Sheep’s milk ice cream, wild Sorrel and Hazelnut biscuit –  English Strawberries and Cream on Steroids , I don`t need to say anything more than this.





The dishes below are taken off the new alc menu at Rogan & Co and an example of the very attractive pricing structure in the restaurant. The thing that puzzles me is that the food here is clearly running at Michelin star levels so why can`t other restaurants of a similar nature offer food for prices like this ?

Cartmel Valley Pigeon  – Grilled pigeon breast, creamed kale and savoury, blackcurrant and chamomile sauce. £7

Pigs Trotter – Crispy pigs trotter with confit potatoes, broad beans and mugwort cream sauce. £7

Bessy beck rainbow trout – House cured with fennel, fresh cucumber, dill and sour cream.  £8


Wild brill  – Brill cooked in brown butter with oyster and dittander cream, grilled blood red Holland onions and kohlrabi.  £22

Line caught Cod – Seared cod loin and icicle radishes, coastal greens radish and anise broth. £21

Mead Glazed Carrot – Sugar snax carrot glazed in mead, St James cheese, barbequed sea kale and walnut dressing. £16


Yorkshire Strawberries – Macerated strawberries with sheep’s milk ice cream,  wild sorrel and hazelnut biscuit. £8

Raspberry Mousse – Raspberry mousse with mascarpone ice cream,  elderflower jelly and crispy brioche.  £7

Smoked Cherry – Cherries smoked over oak, walnut cake, artichoke ice cream and caramel.   £8



Rogan & Co. on Urbanspoon

Cumbriafoodie and Lenclume make the Wall Street Journal

lenclume wall street journal
I had a fun morning last week down at Lenclume in the Cumbrian village of Cartmel with Simons Rogans head chef Mark Birchall. We were putting a recipe together for the cover of The Wall street journal weekend magazine. Mark was doing the hard work whilst I just snapped away and then scoffed the results.What I enjoyed most was the fact that it was a really hot day and the ice cream started melting within minutes. Of course this would have ruined the look of the photos so Mark ended up back and forward to the kitchen and i simply cleaned up the leftovers. I managed 4 desserts before Mark got some liquid Nitro on the job to guarantee the last one wouldn’t melt.
P1050044 - Copy
wall street journal lenclume
Another shot with the Nikon D800 and 105mm Macro lens
_DSC8664 - Copy       Here`s the recipe for anyone wanting to make this delicious dessert at home.
 Sorrel Ice Cream with Rhubarb Compote

Serves: 4

120g caster sugar

8 egg yolks

600g milk

200g whipping cream

100g raw sorrel

1. Beat the sugar and yolks together until trebled in volume. Boil the milk and cream, then pour over the sugar and yolk mix.

2. Cook the mixture slowly on a low heat, until it’s thick and creamy and coats the back of a wooden spoon (around 20-30 minutes).

3. Add the sorrel, then blend until smooth; pass through a sieve and chill over ice.

4. Churn in an ice-cream maker.

Rhubarb Compote

230g rhubarb, peeled and sliced into 1 cm pieces

25g caster sugar

25 mL lemon juice

1 gelatin leaf

1. Place gelatin leaf in cold water to hydrate.

2. Meanwhile, mix all the remaining ingredients in a small bowl, cover with cling film and steam over a bain-marie for 45 minutes.

3. Strain the liquor, then place in a small saucepan and heat at a medium temperature until reduced to a light syrup. Cool slightly then stir in the gelatin and rhubarb pieces.

4. Refrigerate until set (around 2 hours). Serve with sorrel ice cream.

Tips: If you can’t find sorrel, replace the milk and cream in the recipe with 400 mL milk and 400 mL crème fraîche, for a lighter and slightly sour flavor that’s a good replacement for the sorrel. If you don’t have an ice-cream maker, freeze the mix for four hours, stirring it every 30 minutes.

Lenclume – 19 Course Sunday lunch.

                     lenc 2Panorama1As you all know , I`ve spent the last 10 years eating at Lenclume and i think by now everyone knows its “just down the road” and “on my doorstep” so i won`t go rubbing it in yet again. This was a totally random booking made on Twitter whilst half drunk in Wetherspoons on a Saturday evening.It was a simple case of “What are we doing for lunch tomorrow” ? and within 5 minutes i had a return `tweet` off head chef Mark Birchall and the job was done. So here it is in all of its wonderful glory…..19 amazing courses cooked for us by the very talented Mark and the Lenclume team…..and 4 hours to get through it all.

Oyster Pebbles.


Cockle , Seaweed and Horseradish.


Smoked Eel with Ham Fat.


Lichen , Frozen Ox and Sour Cream.


Chickpea wafers with Garlic and petals.


Kohlrabi , Eggs and Truffle.


Cod “Yolk” Sage cream , Pea shoots , Salt and Vinegar.


Westcombe Dumpling , Vegetable Broth , Beetroot and Shoots.


Valley Venison , Charcoal Oil , Mustard and Fennel.


Valley Mushrooms ,Yellow  Pea and Lettuce , Smoked Marrow and Stonecrop.


Mussels in their own juice , Cabbage and Leek.


Artichokes with Goats Cheese , Tarragon and Malt.


Butter poached Brill , Grilled Carrots , Manx Queenies and Celandine.


Reg`s Guinea Hen , Kale , Potato , Offal and Scurvy grass.


Selection of English cheeses.



Sea Buckthorn , Buttermilk , Liquorice and Butternut.


Rhubarb with Brown Butter , Wild Sorrel and Apple.


Sheeps Milk , Gingerbread , Wild Chervil and Caramel.



Pear , Sweet cheese and Celeriac.


Aerated Chocolate , Kendal mint cake ice cream.


To see the full set of photos from my lunch please CLICK HERE.

L'Enclume on Urbanspoon


Simon Rogan at ” The French ” , The Midland Hotel , Manchester.

 P1020917 - Copy

Mr Rogan makes the move into Manchesters Midland hotel and Tuesday 12th March will see the doors opening to a very exciting start to the fine dining scene and fingers crossed the Michelin stars back into the city again. I was fortunate enough to be invited down yesterday to a preview of what the new look ” The French ” restaurant is going to be producing over the next few weeks. I believe there will be 2 multi course tasting menus in true Rogan style , a small and a large ( itll be something like a 5 and a 10 course choice i would expect.). Here`s a wee sneak preview of what delights await.


 Little tasters… Wafers of Eel


A selection of “The French ” Bread – White , Wholemeal and Beer.


Artichoke broth and English Truffle Dumplings.



Ox with Coal oil , Pumpkin seeds, Kohlrabi and sunflower shoots.



Dorset Crab salad.



A selection of Early Spring offerings –  New seasons baby salad leaves, vegetables , herbs and flowers with Lovage salt.


 Sole with Scallops.


Yewtree farm Herdwick Hoggett with Ewes milk emulsion.


Cumbrian Rose Veal with lentils and Mushrooms


Pear / biscuit


Sasparilla 3 ways…. ” Sass n Soda “



Little treats with coffee.


The Restaurant interior.


The most amazing lights , each light took 4 days to hang.Every individual crystal was hand cut to length….like asteroids crashing to earth , Stunning.



Me and the ole Rogmeister.

the french , simon rogan

He`s a good mate , i just can`t understand why i drive him nuts.

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Preparations underway for our 15 seconds of ITV fame….watch out on Tuesday.P1020805                         P1020924  french Panorama2

The French by Simon Rogan on Urbanspoon

Simon Rogan Masterclass at Lakes College.

simon rogan lenclume

Living on the West coast of Cumbria It isn`t every day that you can come home from work , take a quick shower and then pop 5 minutes up the road to eat one of the worlds best chefs food for the price of a takeaway meal. On this occasion Simon Rogan had travelled up from Lenclume in Cartmel to my local catering school –   `Lakes College` near Whitehaven to inspire the next generation of up and coming young Chefs. Assisted by  Dan Cox ( director of Aulis ) Simon would mentor and over see the 2012 graduates as they all teamed together to produce a 5 course meal in the `Rogan style`. The ingredients were all from within the region , local farms , foraged and Cartmel grown from the Lenclume gardens.

simon rogan lenclume
As far as the `catch of the year` goes then this has got to be the one… . Appetiser , starter , main , pud and a sweet treat  with coffee. A glass of Champers , white , red and a dessert  wine for £40…WOW.  Obviously a total sell out from the off. Simon and Dan would spend the day carrying out a masterclass for the public and then straight to the kitchens to coach the students through the preparation of dinner using tips and techniques from the Lenclume.

A little amuse to start was a simplified Lenclume Crispy bread wafer with Cream Cheese , Vegetables and Herbs.

simon rogan lenclumesimon rogan lenclume

Scallops in Coal Oil with Vintage Beetroot , Mustard and Horseradish.

simon rogan lenclumesimon rogan lenclume

Yewtree farm Herdwick Hogget , Pickled Tongue , salt baked Celeriac , Leeks and Cowmire Cider.

simon rogan lenclumesimon rogan lenclumesimon rogan lenclumesimon rogan lenclume

Coniston Wholemeal Stout in Blackberry , Liquorice and Sea Buckthorn.

simon rogan lenclumesimon rogan lenclumesimon rogan lenclumesimon rogan lenclume

Parkin cake served with coffee.

simon rogan lenclume

A worried looking Rogan …deep in thought about my offer of a night out in Whitehaven…. ” Anyone know where Chef`s gone ” ?

All in all it was a great evening.The students loved it , the diners loved it and hiccups were rare…it worked well both front and back of house….Let`s make these events regular guys.

A few more pics here on FLICKR

LENCLUME – What`s the best Camera for the Geeky food blogger.

If i were to hazard a guess I think you`ll all know pretty well by now that i`m quite a big fan of Chef Simon Rogan and his Lenclume restaurant in the Cumbrian village of Cartmel. I suppose i can even manage to call it my “local” seeing as though it`s only an hours drive away . Going from strength to strength in its 10th year of the business and currently standing at 10/10 in the Good food guide 2013 , 5 Rosettes in the AA guidebook Lenclume is finally getting the recognition it deserves with Michelin awarding the restaurant 2 stars in the 2013 guide.

During this visit i also finally managed to get a tour of the gardens off Chef Dan Cox. I was so impressed with the produce available at the moment throughout the gardens.It`s pretty cold up north in October and after a horrendous summer of constant rain i was pleasantly surprised at the amount and quality of herbs , flowers and vegetables in full bloom and fruit….it really is one hell of an operation going on there. They`re even doing research on chicken breeds and the correct diets just to get the perfect Egg yolk for one of their dishes. The whole Rogan operation is all coming together and boy is it looking great. Continue reading

Lenclume , Cartmel – Rogan reaching dizzy new heights.

lenclume , cartmel , simon rogan

I`ve been following the Lenclume  gang around since the place opened almost 10 years ago. I`ve watched Simon Rogan evolve through many stages of cuisine , endless experiments and i have to say it`s been one hell of a journey. Simon has now levelled out and the new phase of Lenclume food over the last few years has been producing  wonderful  delights from the Cumbrian landscape , sea , lakes and mountains and also the very best of the regions farmers and suppliers. The menus have now been cut to just the one….roundabout 16 – 18 dishes (£89) and they`re decided upon each morning dependant on what`s available that day. Don`t go whinging if the diners on the table have something different because i can guarantee you that you`ll have your own delights that they probably won`t have .It`s all going on behind the scenes in the kitchen and its literally being picked seconds before it hits the plates….it really is amazing. I truly believe in my heart that no chef is cooking like this in the United Kingdom, i  was honestly buzzing for days after this meal…..yeah yeah yeah so i`m a sad so and so but it`s true…. i really did get off on this meal. For those reading this and thinking of going to Noma to eat….just forget it as Lenclume is our British version and really is running at world class levels , it`s just stunning , as you can see in the photos below.

I consider  myself as a very fortunate guy as i manage to eat Rogans food every few months , i ate at Rognanic  a few weeks ago ( see here ) and i was expecting similar food on this menu but everything was different. Chef  Dan Cox told me that the menu had just been put together an hour before lunch and the lads had just returned from  picking ingredients at the farm and the local hedgerows .The menu was brought to the table and tucked away under a pebble , it was there if i needed to have a peep but i was just told to relax and let it flow.

I`ve already written plenty about Lenclume and Simon Rogan in the past so ill just shut up now and let the photos do the talking….and folks , just get over to Cartmel and sample the food , its running at the highest levels ever and apparently plans are in place to up their game even more.

This was probably the best meal i`ve ever eaten at Lenclume…. Enjoy.

Oyster pebbles – Delicate meringue filled with Oyster cream and apple. The leaves are Oysterleaf , a wild coastal plant with a mushroomy Oyster flavour.

lenclume , cartmel , simon rogan

lenclume , cartmel , simon rogan

Eel  smoked with potato and Ham fat

lenclume , cartmel , simon rogan

Cream cheese wafers – Simply stunning.

lenclume , cartmel , simon rogan

Asparagus with Bay Shrimp.

lenclume , cartmel , simon rogan                The Lenclume breads – White , Pumpernickel and wholemeal.

lenclume , simon rogan cartmellenclume , simon rogan cartmellenclume , simon rogan cartmel

Cod “yolk” , Sage cream , salt and vinegar.

lenclume , cartmel , simon rogan

Kohlrabi dumplings in Westcombe , Hyssop and Purple sprouting….OMG…i`ve never experience soft textured dumplings like these ones ever.They were like the worlds softest and most delicate Gnocchi , i must get this recipe. An absolute star dish and probably best dish of the day.

lenclume , cartmel , simon rogan

lenclume , cartmel , simon rogan

Valley Venison , Charcoal Oil , Mustard and Fennel.This one got many Ooos and Ahhhhs when i had the Roganic version , another amazing dish with the Charcoal oil scenting the venison with the most unusual flavour.Hopefully this dish will forever grace the menus of Rogan , its wonderful. A new addition was the little candied spheres of what i think was sweet Fennel , filled with a liquid centre.

lenclume , cartmel , simon roganlenclume , cartmel , simon rogan

Sea scallop with spiced Strawberry , grilled Cauliflower and coastal leaves.

lenclume , simon rogan , cartmel

Cucumbers , Pineapple weed , frozen Lobster and Rat tails…..ok so you`re wanting to know where the Rats are ….look below , its a minature radish.I`ll just point out here about the plates at Lenclume…..totally unique and custom made for the restaurant by a local potter.The dish below looked stunning on the silver plate.

lenclume , simon rogan , cartmelOk , so here we go….Rat tail radish , peppery and easy to grow , Chef Rogan must lie in bed at night fantasising over his veggie catalogues.

lenclume , simon rogan , cartmel

BBQ  leeks with poached marrow , English mace and egg yolk sauce.

lenclume , simon rogan , cartmel

Lightly smoked bay Bass , Cockle juice , Courgettes and cotton Lavender.

lenclume , simon rogan , cartmellenclume , simon rogan , cartmel

Reg`s Guinea hen and offal , Turnip and Elderflower.Delicate little Elderflowers sprinkled over the dish added a complimentary perfumed scent to the rich flavours.I believe that this one won`t be everyone`s cup of tea , you have to like offal as the flavour dominates…. I like offal so it was a winner for me.

lenclume , simon rogan , cartmel

Iced chamomile , Spruce , Celery and black pepper….A wee taster to cleanse and prepare for the 3 desserts to come.

lenclume , simon rogan , cartmel

Cumbrian slate , Gooseberry , Apple and Lemon Verbena…. How good is this ?  Rogan has invented edible stones that actually look like bits of Slate. Please dont even consider asking how they do this , i`ve really no idea….and what`s inside ? ok so i`ll tell a little secret , its a delicate Gooseberry mousse and it`s coated with a jelly coloured with the “burnt ash” of local Bramble leaves….How amazing is that ? Now i`m going to get in bother for telling.

lenclume , simon rogan , cartmellenclume , simon rogan , cartmel

Cherries with Meadowsweet , Hazelnut and Apple.

lenclume , simon rogan , cartmellenclume , simon rogan , cartmel

Gingerbread and iced watermint.

lenclume , simon rogan , cartmel

Coniston Oatmeal Stout ice cream , Blackberry  and Plum soda.

lenclume , simon rogan , cartmellenclume , simon rogan , cartmelPicturesque postcard village scenes from Cartmel.
The river literally outside the kitchen door.
The Old Raleigh sign now becoming part of the restaurant exterior.( The Lenclume windowsill cat wasn`t there this time )
Cavendish arch leading the way to the temple.
Aulis research centre where lenclume dishes begin life.

lenclume , simon rogan , cartmellenclume , simon rogan , cartmel

lenclume , simon rogan , cartmellenclume , simon rogan , cartmel

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Late Spring Foraging , There`s lots to be had for the food lovers.

A Saturday morning out and about in the hedgerows and woods with a little call off at the beach on the way home for an ice cream.Must have taken all of an hour in all and this is just what`s available for the wild food forager right now….a total feast for free.As far as chefs go then there really isnt an excuse , its on everyones doorstep from city parks to coastal areas and woodland , we all have something nearby.All it takes is a decent guide book , google and a creative mind.            

                                                            WOOD SORREL

                    Mallow – Looks like huge leaves of Rhubarb growing wild.

As you can see from the leaf and stalk on my car , they`re huge and a few leaves and stalks will go a long way. Simon Rogan actually cooks these at Lenclume / Roganic and purees them down to accompany the Muncaster Crab dish below.

ELDERFLOWERS AND ELDERFLOWER BUDS – Now these ones are amazing , theres so many things to do with Elder.The buds can be picked and pickled and the uses for the flowers at this stage are endless.Cordials and desserts are definitely the way to go.

                                                       COMMON BISTORT

                                                     COMMON BISTORT

                                                WILD GARLIC FLOWERS

                                          WILD GARLIC OR RAMSONS

                                                        HEDGE GARLIC

                                                            HEDGE GARLIC

                                                            THE PIGNUT

                                                                   PIGNUT FOLIAGE

                                PIGNUT , STRAIGHT OUT OF THE GROUND

                                               PIGNUT , SKIN REMOVED.


                                                               HERB ROBERT

                                                             HERB ROBERT


                                                      GREEN ALKANET

                                                             COW PARSLEY

                                                        COW PARSLEY

                                                           STINGING NETTLE



 CLEAVERS – I remember having lots of fun with these as a child , throwing them at peoples clothes , they stick to anything…especially old ladies coats…yes , i was a bad child.Nowadays , they`re better used when they`re young shoots in salads.I cannot shout up for them in a positive way and have yet to see them on a menu.

                                               YELLOW ARCHANGEL


                                                       ROCK SAMPHIRE

                                                              SEA KALE

Simon Rogan – A Spring lunch at Roganic,London

I think most of you will know by now that i`m ever so slightly potty.I can only blame the Cumbrian air and breeding for that one.Last week i even amazed myself and decided on a whim to make a 14 hour , 700 mile round trip…just to eat lunch at Roganic in Marylebone.Car , train , tube , walk , Taxi , train , car and home again , all in the quest for some of Englands finest foods….So yes , totally nuts…but not as nutty as some people.I`m taking about the “Roganator” here , Simon Rogan the crazy chef from Lenclume in Cartmel.He`s a great lad really but he never ceases to amaze me with the never ending use of totally obscure ,wonderful and wild ingredients combined into his cutting edge cuisine.Chef Rogan is currently working behind the stoves of his London Roganic restaurant and also manages to do the same at his flagship Lenclume restaurant in Cumbria on Roganics closed days.Simon has always been known to use ever so slightly “strange” ingredients and since Lenclume opened its doors ten years ago i`ve been fed quite a few totally insane ones to be honest….Wild Roots , and shoots of every description ,  “Mad Barberry bark infusions” , Cep bomb raviolis , Fragrant Myhrr , Frozen sea water cubes ,BBQ Pig with Coca cola gel , ….Yep , over those ten years i`ve watched Rogan grow and flow through his sensible era, to his strange ….to his totally strange , back to the slightly sensible and now in 2012 chef has made his `one off` style of culinary creativity a huge success at world class level…but the man is still as nutty as the nuttiest fruit cake ( in Simons case his fruitcake is infused with Bistort , cow parsley and green Alkanet ).

As far as Mr Rogan goes , he`s fed me everything….or at least i thought he had.I booked myself onto the London train ,packed my camera and away i went to the big city to sample the new Spring menu at Simons Marylebone restaurant.It was a gorgeous day , a good 10 degrees warmer than Cumbria and before i knew it i was being welcomed by the friendly Roganic team and into the window seat for my 13 course mini feast…..and my first experience of… ” Coal “…..and so on with the menu.

                                            Smoked Pork and Eel croquettes


                                 Onion biscuit , Nettle cream and Shallot jam.

          Roganic breads – Pumpernickel , Onion Thyme and Wholemeal with Ale.

                 Burnt cream of English mushrooms , Ramsons and Cheese drops.

         Grown up Egg yolk from the Golden egg , Celeriac , Sorrel and Garlic cream.

              Spring broth with Carrot dumplings , Sea kale shoots and Pearl barley.

 So this is where Chef Rogan managed to push the boundaries right over the edge again with his constantly developing cuisine…Cmon , “Coal” ….i seriously had my doubts here.Now before anyone asks , no , Rogan hasn`t bought a Cumbrian coal mine.What he`s actually done is to infuse the flavour of Coal into an organic Rapeseed oil.This is combined with raw diced fillet of Venison , scurvy grass , lightly pickled onion and  what appeared to be Broom flowers ( Gorse ). I have to admit , i was ever so slightly worried that Simon had gone completely AWOL here but hey… bloody well worked , infact the result was a total WOW , and one of the best dishes i have ever eaten from the hundreds of Rogan plates that ive sampled over the years.It took me back to childhood grass fires , wood smoke , BBQ coals, Oil products… I had one of my `closed eyes` moments and just didn`t want this one to end…..Amazing and i can say right now , hand on heart , a trip to Roganic just to sample this one dish would be well worthwhile.I`ll look out for more reports over the coming months , i`ll be interested to hear what other diners make of it.

                 Raw Venison in “Coal” oil , Mustard , Scurvy grass and Onions.

                  Crispy seaweed mashed Potatoes , Mace , wild Leek and Fennel.

               Cornish Lobster , Oyster , Apple , pickled Kohlrabi and coastal herbs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Grilled salad smoked over Embers , Truffle custard and Cobnuts.

                      Five flavoured Monkfish , Razor clams , Vinegar and Hazelnut.

          Herdwick Lamb flank, Sweetbread , Salsify , Hedge Garlic and Velvet caps.

                              Sweet cheese , Water celery , Artichoke and Malt.


                      Rhubarb  with Meadowsweet , cream cake and sweet cicely.

                   Rowan shoot milk shake with Lemon curd brioche donut.

                                  Bourbon biscuit and white chocolate ice lolly.

                                                              The Roganic team

I cannot urge you strongly enough to come up to Cumbria and give the Lenclume experience a go , it`s simply wonderful.If Cartmel is a little too far to travel then go give the Spring menu a shot at Roganic.The food is very similar so at least its a chance to sample Simon Rogans cuisine and have a little taster of what`s happening up at the Mothership restaurant.Thanks also to the team for the constant smiles and awesome service.

Please click HERE to see the full photo package from my Roganic lunch.

Please click HERE to see a recent Lenclume meal from Cartmel.

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LENCLUME – The 2012 Winter menu.

So ,  my first post of the year and my little “easing into” the flow of 2012 and hopefully some pretty good eating. As i said in an earlier post i do have a new years resolution to get 2 stone off before my annual trip to Thailand in June. A`light` lunch at Lenclume would provide a natural , healthy and a good start to my fitness regime…That sounds to me like a bloody good philosophy and positive thinking to pave the way forward…. It “will” happen.
Chef Simon Rogan was spending the new year with family down south so wasn`t at the restaurant during my visit.Mark Birchall , fresh from his Roux scholarship prize winning placement at Can Roca in Spain was cooking as head chef in Simons absence.With Mark heading up the brigade i knew that a great meal was in store. The `light` lunch was meant to be a little taster into the world of  restaurant food for my son Max .He`s a bit of a Mc Donalds fan so was willing to let me attempt to introduce him into something a little more adventurous…. “Dad , I`ll eat whatever they give me”.. Mmmnnn , i had my doubts but it was worth a try.So here`s how my first decent restaurant meal of the year performed.

The usual nibbles arrived whilst perusing the 4 menus on offer.Little savoury Duck scratchings and crackers led us on to our first Amuse of the day  – Onion cheese wafers.

    Next up was the “Oyster pebbles” looking very like the accompanying local beach stones in the little glass pot….very realistic and an enjoyable amuse to get us smiling. As always , the very popular Lenclume bread was freshly baked and straight out of the oven.

   Carrot  Pork sacks with  were next , A Carrot foam with a rich Ham concoction hidden underneath.

Grilled Salad smoked over embers , Isle of Mull cheese , Truffle custard and Cobnuts

Valley Venison , Smoked salt , Chicory and Fennel.

Roasted Snow Crown in a rich Beef broth, Crispy Parsley , and cultivated Nameko

Native Lobster and pickled Beetroot , Apple and Bittercress.

And as far as baby radishes go… Chef Rogan picks em young.You can also see here the difference in cameras ( for anyone interested in food photography ).The camera i use 99% of the time is my little Panasonic Lumix LX5 ( £299) which is amazing for food photography, close up macro shots and generally being discreet in a restaurant.The photo above of the Lobster dish was shot with the Lumix whilst the one below right was shot using a £1,500 Canon EOS 7D and 17-70mm zoom lens.Notice the depth of field that the Canon produces and that only a fraction of the photo is in focus in front of and also behind the radish which is a really popular look in food photography.Give me the Lumix anyday.I only took the Canon to get some use out of it and im a little reluctant to sell it on ebay until i give it a decent chance.

  Halibut with Trout roe sauce , Celeriac and Chestnut.

Roasted Monkfish in our spices , Roasted Kiri Squash , Yoghurt and Raspberry vinegar.

Randolph`s Lop suckling pig with Northern Mead , Vintage vegetables and Nasturtium.

Yew tree farm Herdwick Hoggett in Mulled Cider , Brussels sprouts and Red Cabbage.

Sea Buckthorn and Anise, Hyssop , Liquorice and Butternut. I loved this dessert and the unusual and unique flavour of the sea buckthorn berries.Definitely at my top of the list for best puds of the year.

Fig and Malted cream , William Pear Ice.

Fresh Cheese ice cream with Sweet Brackens , Rosehips and Hazelnuts.

Aerated Parkin Meringue.

As always , Lenclume never fails to deliver and after a long and totally chilled Xmas / new year lunch we left very satisfied and educated.My son Max loved it and surprised me by eating everything ( apart from Lambs tongues ) so i`m sure that he will be wanting more of the same throughout the year.I`ll look forward to seeing what Simon and the guys deliver during 2012.I have a good feeling that we are all going to be seeing a lot more of Mr Rogan this year…fingers crossed. Cheers guys and happy new year.

The full set of photos from the meal can be viewed by clicking HERE.

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It`s been a wonderful 2011 for me when it comes to eating out , meeting people and generally having a good ole time. The London restaurant scene has played a big part in my year and i`ve thoroughly enjoyed travelling down to the capital to eat in some of the countries finest restaurants over the last 12 months. I have already started making plans for 2012 ( Ducasse , Waterside , Lenclume , Whatley manor ) and the first trip gets underway in January ( Ducasse , The Ritz , Gavroche ) followed shortly afterwards by Edinburgh in february ( Rhubarb room , Castle terrace )….and so on. Firm plans are also in place for me to lose 2 stone by june as well….erm…It will happen…..really.Thailand will see a slimline Mr Alan.

So a quick recap on what was best in 2011.Following on from my friends “The critical couple” and their Best of 2011 i decided to highlight my 2011 dream menu from the 30 or so Michelin restaurants i have visited during the year…Here goes.

For Starters it had to be Hestons “Meat fruit” from his Knightsbridge restaurant`Dinner`. Making the meat fruit at home has been my most popular piece on my Cumbriafoodie blog from all over the world  during 2011…and if anyone has 5/6 days to spare and the patience of a saint then here is exactly how to make this wee beauty. CLICK HERE.

As for the best bread in 2011…and all of the restaurants i`ve `ever` eaten in ….Heston does it again by a long mile.I had his bread in the Fat Duck in 2010 and again at “Dinner” .I don`t know anything about the bread other than it is fabulous.

On to my Veggie favourite and i really couldn`t separate these two starters.The first one was made by my friend Simon Rogan during a meal in his Cartmel restaurant `Lenclume`. Vintage Potatoes in Onion ashes with Whey sauce and Sorrel.

Another wonderful Veggie starter was made by Brett Graham during an August meal at the Ledbury in Notting hill , London. Hampshire Buffalo milk curd with Saint Nectaire truffle toasts and a broth of grilled Onions.

Pierre Gagnaires “Sketch” restaurant in London provided the years best Shellfish dish. Scottish Lobster , lightly cooked with ginger butter , swiss chard , banana , mango and bisque saucePaired up with a wonderful little salad of Lobster claw meat.

The Ledbury once again shone through with this amazing fish course of Flame grilled Mackerel , Smoked Eel , Celtic Mustard, Avocado and Shiso.The smokiness of the Mackerel skin brought back childhood memories of cooking over home made fires…I couldn`t  re-create the same Ledbury flavour when i tried it at home.

 My Game dish of the year was the August Grouse at The Ledbury. Roasted Breast and Confit legs of Grouse , with Red leaves and vegetables , Foie gras and Cherries. Best Lamb course of the year was served to us at St James , London –  “7 Park Place” by William`Billy` Drabble. An absolute classic cooking method taught to Chef by the legendary Nico Ladenis at Ninety park lane…. it`s totally `old school` at its best,  amazing.

Main course Beef dish that stood out from the rest was made by James Knappett ( now cooking at The Ledbury ) at Marcus Wareing in the Berkeley , London. A fairly straight forward and simple dish but cooked to perfection and the combination of the melting beef fillet , Smoked bone marrow and tartness of the berries had me sat in my chair , eyes closed and totally drifting away on a cloud….Still my best main of a lifetime.

A very close second place to the beef but i`ve included it here as ” Best classic” dish of the year and one that only took me 30 odd years to get around to tasting… Pigs Trotters “Pierre Koffmann” at Londons `Koffmanns` in the Berkeley hotel … I must return for more.

Kenny Atkinson at the Orangery in Rockliffe Hall and his award winning Northumbrian cheeseboard.I`ve had a lot of nice cheese over the year but this one “took the biscuit”….a truly fabulous tasting of Northern cheeses and their accompaniments.

Chef Simon Rogan at his finest once again creating a wonderful dessert from local Cumbrian produce at his Cartmel restaurant Lenclume. Quince with Buttermilk , Iced and crispy Damsons , Sweet brackens and Rosehips….Amazing. ( watch out for this guy in 2012 )

“Stop press”…Get the brakes on…. December 29th and It`s definitely a close shave for the pud of the year.I ate a 2011 last minute “light” 16 course lunch today at Lenclume and experienced some amazing food.The pudding below definitely hits the mark to rival the one above so i`m firing it in at the last minute.These guys are going to be knocking some pretty good stuff out in 2012…cant wait.So the one below is  “Sea Buckthorn ice cream ( Liquid Nitro ) Anise , Hyssop , Liquorice and Butternut”. The sponge like item that sits on top of the dish i `think` is the light El Bulli type of sponge cooked inside a cup…but it was crispy so im guessing that it was then put in a dehydrator….it was good.The sea buckthorn is such a unique flavour , there`s really nothing quite like it.It`s a love it or hate it experience and definitely my flavour of the year ,it really is amazing.

Petits fours and sweet treats with coffee don`t come much better than this.By the time these ones landed on our table we had competely overstuffed ourselves to bursting point.They were beautifully packaged up in a little box and were swiftly devoured the following morning in bed.Thanks to Le Champignon Sauvage in Cheltenham.

And finally…. I can`t end  my 2011 dining without mentioning my “Best Service” experience…and that simply has to go to the staff at Marcus Wareing in the Berkeley hotel , London. As i said in my blog post ( click here ) This is hospitality at the highest level…I simply cannot fault it. Thanks to Dimitri Bellos and all of the team.

And that`s my final post of the year folks .I wish you all a very happy new year and hope you can consume as many calories as i`m going to during 2012.

Happy eating , Cheers Alan.

Visionary Dining – Young Chef of the year 2011.

An amazing and very enjoyable evening at the lakes hotel school in Kendal last night , 11 wonderful courses of fabulous food , enjoyable wine, top class chefs and lovely people.The evening started at 4.30 and i ate , slurped lots of wine and fell into bed at 1 am……then got back up at 4.30 for the journey back to Sellafield and the delights of first shift…..So i`ll let the pics do the talking as i`m not up for blabbering away tonight…..time for bed.

Champagne and Canapes – Aumbry Restaurant , Manchester

Scallop and Caviar Ceviche / Jasmine and Honey Spherifications.

SOUP – Michael Lipscombe with Mark Poynton (Alimentum ) –  Oxtail , Ceps and Truffle

FLIGHT – Gareth Bevan with Kenny Atkinson (Rockliffe Hall) – Pressed Terrine
of Yorkshire Partridge , Foie gras and Ham hock, Celeriac & mustard
remoulade, pickled pears and roasted Hazelnuts.

JAPAN – Nick Evans with Michael Wignall  (The Latymer at Pennyhill park )– Teriyaki marinated Rainbow trout , seaweed salad , chervil mousseline , seaweed tea.

CARROTS – David Simms with Simon Rogan (Lenclume) – Mainly Carrot ,
other subtle flavours  – Smoke , Ham , Cheddar , Vinegar and Chervil.

THE SEA – Tom Lawson with Rupert Rowley (Fischers Baslow ) – A selection of
lightly pickled shellfish , tomato ( marie rose ) Brown bread and butter.

4 LEGS – Steve Smith with Sujan Sakar (Freemasons arms) – Pigs trotters ,
Tandoori spices , Apple and pumpkin.

2050 – Andrew Postlethwaite with Chris Holland (Alderley edge hotel) – Beef tea ,
delicate Ginger , Lemongrass , sesame , Soya oriental  flavour noodles.

GAME ( and the winning dish ) – Rohan Nevis with Aiden Byrne (The church green) – Wild Hare wrapped in Chicory and Sage.

CHOCOLATE – John Killington with Andre Garret (Galvin@windows) – Dark chocolate
mainly with a little white , hint of Tonka bean, some spice , cardamom, star
anise and some Orange.

APPLES – Derek Donaldson with Alan Irwin (Lujon ) – Apple cremeux ,
Cinnamon sponge , Camomile smoked Apple pastilles , Granny smith sorbet , Pink
lady jelly , Gingerbread sable , crisps and foam.

If you would like to view all of the photos from the Visionary dining evening then please just click HERE to see them on my Flickr page.