Restaurant of the year 2014 – The Chester Grosvenor

The Chester Grosvenor is winner of Decanter/Laurent-Perrier Restaurant of the Year 2014 - as published in the February 2015 issue

Newcomer of the Year – Fera at Claridges

The major bright spot of the year in London was the opening of Fera at Claridge’s, which turned Gordon Ramsay’s former rather fusty dining rooms into Simon Rogan’s open, bold and cheery Art Deco restaurant. The food was equally bold, imaginative and off-centre – a mix of the well-crafted and faux-foraged, often organic, invariably fascinating, and mostly superb. Rogan’s idea of comfort food may sound odd, like whipped soft cheese and creamy potatoes studded with duck hearts, or grilled warm salad with truffle custard, but the proof is on your palate – it works, deliciously.

Rogan grows many of his own herbs and vegetables in an organic farm in Cumbria, and they’re brought to the restaurant in flat trays, still living – when I visited the kitchen (as you can, just ask), a corner of it looked more like a farm shop. Even though much of the food is deconstructed, sometimes rather whimsically, the freshness and
flavour come right through, adding a nice element of surprise. It’s dining as theatre, certainly, but it’s a great show.

The wine list began at 400 bins and is still growing (Raphael Rodriguez, manager and sommelier, says it’s ‘a work in progress’). It’s imaginative, featuring quite a few natural/organic and orange wines alongside some of the greatest fine wines, for example.

It demands a lot of thought if you wish to do anything like seriously matching with food, given the quirkiness of the menu. Basically, you can look at the list online, when you can take your time (and which might ease the sticker shock at some of the prices), or ask for advice, which is freely and informatively given. It also has the benefit of providing some more interesting quirkiness you might not discover on your own, as I discovered when I let Rodriguez choose several wines by the glass for my meal.

Fera at Claridge’s,

49 Brook St, London W1K 4HR;

Tel: +44 (0)20 7107 888;

feraatclaridges.co.uk

Open Monday-Saturday for lunch and dinner.

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