I thought I would post some more London memories this week before really jumping into the food scene in Thailand. It was such a short time in between our trips, that I really did not have time to share everything I wanted to from the UK. I must admit, we visited quite many familiar places last time (we often go for new things) but Fera was something new and exciting.
The real hype about Simon Rogan’s Fera at Claridges may have passed as we had no real issues snagging a table for lunch despite poor planning (poor planning for us means not booking months in advance). We opted for lunch as we were already had our evenings full and to be honest the lunch seemed like the best value for money. If you are on holiday who cares if you are stuffing down food at noon or later in the day – It tastes just as good. The lunch deals at starred restaurants are often much more reasonable than the same in the evening. Ok, I do have some doubts about the quality of lunch at many restaurants. After a friend of mine, who works at a wholesaler, explained what kind of stuff they sell to restaurants as “lunch” products, my lunch-life has never really been the same. However, I believe (hope) a Michelin starred restaurant would not risk it.
The design of Fera is fairly nice, it somehow brings out a calm and tranquil feel and design fits well with the focus on seasonal produce. The set lunch deal is great value at £30 for three courses. There is a choice of two starters, two mains and two desserts. We made sure to order different dishes to be able to try all of it. Looking at the wine list, I was a bit disappointed at least with the selection by the glass. The house sparkling was from Davenport Vineyards in East Sussex for £12.5 (after the success of Ridgeview and Nyetimber, English sparklings have had an somewhat unjustified ego-boost showing in their prices) and the house Champagne by the glass was a Laurent Perrier Brut for £15. Boring and expensive (to be London). The more interesting grower Champagnes, Jacques Lassaigne and Voutte et Sorbee, that I would really have liked to taste, were unfortunately out of a reasonable price range (over £20 a glass). A few years ago, I would have perhaps been ok with just cold, dry and sparkling, but these days I would rather just skip it if it doesn’t excite me. However I must say I might be quite excited of a £15 Laurent Perrier right now, as the lack of wine in Thailand is a bit excruciating.
Before the starter we were served some bread and a beautiful amuse bouche (a single, bite-sized “starter” served free). Flowers, herbs and a cheese, mmm, sounds delicious. Flavor wise it was however a bit flat and thus disappointing. The bread with the caramelized butter was however genius.
The starters offered were a lovely smoked bantam yolk with kohlrabi and a great dish with beets. Both were as almost as beautiful as the amuse but these were also great to eat. Well-balanced and felt fresh and if not innovative at least not boring. The focus on seasonal produce was clear. The mains were plaice and hen. Both lovely dishes and not very small either. At this point we started filling up a bit with dessert still to come (luckily there is a separate stomach for desserts). The apple crumble/cake was great while the chocolate dessert was a bit boring as chocolate desserts often are. Sometimes it feels as if something with chocolate is on the menu out of a sense of obligation.
Service was good but slight hick-up on bill, resulting in a wait and the addition of contribution to a charity. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against charity. But I just hate when they add that on the bill without asking (and then add service charge on top of it…). This to me brings down the marks a bit.
All in all, food was great (with some room for improvement). Next time in London I will definitely consider Fera for another visit, perhaps for an even more extensive tasting menu in the evening time.