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|Address:||Claridge's, Brook Street, London W1K 4HR|
|Tel:||020 3551 2823|
|Price: £115.00||Wine: £29.00||Champagne: £68.00|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Sun 12N-2.30pm 6.30-10pm|
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The launch of Simon Rogan’s Claridges based restaurant Fera has been across all restaurant media since the announcement last year that he was taking over this coveted spot. As a Londoner, I’ve never eaten in L’Enclume but I did visit Roganic while it was running and the clean, fresh, unique, seasonal flavours were a joy. The space at Roganic was light and airy and fit exceedingly well with the food so I was really excited by the launch of Fera. Maybe the wait of several months was too long. Maybe I’d built it up too highly but then again, is it possible to expect too much from a 2 Michelin starred chef? I have to say the experience overall was disappointing.
This is an expensive restaurant and a world class hotel and that leads to an expectation of a certain level of service. Claridges have always been faultless in that respect but Fera were a little haphazard. The barman should not be the one to notify greeting staff that we are ready for the table. They should approach us at the right time. They didn’t. Having had a cocktail at the bar, we declined another but after we’d ordered food, we were at the table for at least 15 minutes without a single server approaching us to ask if we needed anything. I was forced to actually catch the Sommelier’s attention myself to request a wine list. Where was the attention to detail? Service did improve over the evening but these little details are what can elevate a dining experience and they just weren’t there.
Despite claims that 16 courses could be too much (and this definitely takes a good 4 hours of time), the volume of food we had for each course made it entirely manageable. Some of the earlier items were closer to an amuse bouche than a starter. For sheer taste, I have to single out the stewed rabbit with lovage, potato with duck heart and the crab, rhubarb and goats cheese as very good indeed. The main problem for both my friend and myself is that for a seasonally focused restaurant, Fera has quite a rich menu for what is essentially summertime. There were a lot of creamy, heavy sauces and even a potentially light course of grilled salad was then dosed with truffle butter sauce. It wasn’t overwhelming the dishes but it definitely lacked a lighter touch. Certain individual flavours were lovely, such as the pickled tongue that accompanied the hogget or the duck sweetbreads but overall for some reason no dishes had what I would consider that ‘wow’ factor. They were undeniably good but overall not as extraordinary as we would want.
The art deco leaning decoration was a nice amalgamation with the Claridges style and the nature focused crockery was a fun touch, it’s just a shame the food didn’t live up to the expectation. Perhaps this is Simon Rogan trying too hard to make his mark in London and maybe he’ll relax, re-vist and reassess the menu. I hope so because I know what he’s capable of creating and I’d like to see some of the Roganic brilliance at Fera.