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Fera at Claridge’s – No WOW factor

Having relished a fantastic dinner at Simon Rogan’s Marylebone pop-up ‘Roganic’ back in 2011,  i was looking forward to checking out his latest London venture, Fera, at Claridge’s hotel in Mayfair.

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‘Fera’ means ‘wild’ in Latin – i guess they chose this to evoke a sense of the kitchen’s strong connection to nature.  Simon Rogan’s ethos is all about using the finest organic ingredients (mostly coming directly from his farm in the Lake District) and his commitment to fresh, local & seasonal produce is second to none.  Unsurprisingly, the modern British menu at Fera focuses on extracting maximum flavour from the best ingredients.

I dined here for a pre-Christmas dinner last month, and surprisingly, it wash’t at all difficult to get a reservation at a week’s notice. The festive buzz inside the hotel was lovely, enhanced by the gorgeous floor to ceiling adorned tree.

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Within Fera’s dining room, an elegant & harmonious decor awaits you.  Warm, natural tones, luxurious carpets & upholstery exude a sense of lavishness – just as one would expect from a Claridge’s restaurant.

N.B. Regarding my high hopes before the meal, i don’t think they were unreasonable. I can’t imagine anyone not having high expectations before arriving at Fera – the robust combination of Simon’s culinary reputation along with the grandeur of Claridge’s and a Michelin star surely has to be a winner?

Admittedly, the opulence of the hotel did added something special to the meal, but frankly, it just wasn’t enough.  Service lacked consistency, with waiting staff changing frequently throughout the meal.  To begin with, it was a bit too full on for my comfort, with a waitress who was super keen to take our order (despite it being very clear we were enjoying an overdue catch up chat). On a more general note, although staff were perfectly courteous throughout the evening, they just weren’t that likeable and basically lacked any form of charisma.

Having said that, there was a lovely, charming sommelier on hand who really knew his stuff, for which i applaud the service. P.S. On this note, I should give a special mention to the wine glasses which were the most special glasses i’ve ever used (and are apparently specially hand crafted for the restaurant).  Although you can’t tell from the below shot, the glasses are practically paper thin and almost weightless, a delight to sip wine from.

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Our meal got off to a good start with the arrival of an array of beautiful snacks, each boasting a lovely texture & flavour combination.

The warm stout bread which followed with homemade caramelised whipped brown butter was definitely something to write home about.

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Then came the starters & mains. These were nice and the quality of ingredients was evident, but in all honesty, none were outstanding nor particularly memorable, to my disappointment.

Scallop with parsnip cooked in praline, meadowsweet & hazelnuts

Scallop with parsnip cooked in praline, meadowsweet & hazelnuts

One thing i noted throughout the meal, was the nice assortment of crockery e.g this handmade wooden bowl..

Swede dumplings, Isle of Mull cheese & truffle

Swede dumplings, Isle of Mull cheese & truffle

I wasn’t excited with the presentation of my main – the sauces (and other ingredients) appeared to have been thrown on haphazardly.

The main meal was followed by an enjoyable pre-dessert of chocolate malt frozen with liquid nitrogen, sweet cheese cream, dandelion, and gargamot & prune jam (and in my haste to devour something sweet, i forgot to take a photo!).

The chocolate dessert failed to impress…

Chocolate cream, apple marigold, shortbread & rapeseed jam

Chocolate cream, apple marigold, shortbread & rapeseed jam

This one was far better…

Caramelised apple, celeriac, buckwheat & chestnut

Caramelised apple, celeriac, buckwheat & chestnut

Petit fours…

* Elderberry marshmallow with elderberry gel * Pine nut fudge with pine sugar

* Elderberry marshmallow with elderberry gel * Pine nut fudge with pine sugar

In terms of cost, there’s no doubt that Fera is expensive, but you’ve got to expect this given it’s a Michelin starred Claridge’s restaurant.  With hindsight, i’d have probably gone for lunch to take advantage of the set lunch menu (Monday to Saturday, 3 courses for £30) which i suspect would have provided much better value.

Dips Bites: To sum up my experience at Fera in a word: Underwhelming. Fact is, i struggled to remember most of what i’d eaten when we left – clearly not a good sign.  Don’t get me wrong, there were good parts – the best ones being the amuse bouche & the bread – but overall i had expected (& hoped for) more from the rest of the dishes at Fera, and it failed to deliver. In my opinion, there are better high-end restaurants in London where you can spend a worthy £100 (or more) per head, & for this reason i shall not be returning to Fera.  

P.S. My dinner at his pop-up Roganic 4 years ago was very special and memorable, and because of this, my disappointment with Fera hasn’t put me off wanting to visit Mr Rogan’s 2 Michelin starred flagship ‘L’Enclume’ one day, which remains firmly on the Dips Dines list (if i can get a booking that is).

http://feraatclaridges.co.uk
49 Brook St, Mayfair, W1K 4HR

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