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Aulis at Fera is the latest project from Simon Rogan will allow guests inside the culinary hub at Fera, Claridges. The Michelin-starred chef gives guests a privileged insight into his cooking as his new development kitchen.
Aulis at Fera is a six-seat chef’s table and development kitchen – a restaurant within a restaurant almost – at Simon Rogan’s Michelin-starred Claridge’s restaurant, Fera. The first Aulis test kitchen at L’Enclume in Cartmel is four years old this year.
Simon Rogan is a chef, first and foremost, with two Michelin stars at L’Enclume and one for Fera. He’s a restaurateur too with a small but ambitious empire comprising mothership L’Enclume and Rogan and Company in Cumbria, The French and Mr Cooper’s in Manchester, and Fera in London. Rogan’s executive chef at Fera, Dan Cox, oversees Aulis with head chef Raphael Cagali.
Named Aulis as a nod to Finnish chef and artist, Aulis Lehtimaki, Simon Rogan wanted to pay tribute to Aulis who he felt was a key collaborator in the early days of L’Enclume. The two-starred restaurant in Cartmel, Cumbria from Rogan has already had its own Aulis development kitchen since 2012.
Aulis is a hard-working space that operates by day as a test kitchen where Fera’s chefs can get creative; and by night (Thursday to Saturday only) as an intimate private dining room that affords six guests per sitting a first look at what’s new at Fera.
In spite of all the high tech boys’ toys – a rotary evaporator at one end of the counter, a dehydrator at the other – designer Guy Oliver’s given it a domestic feel with exposed brick, granite worktops and a central cooking range at its heart. It’s about as cosy a place as you’ll find for a 15-courses of cutting-edge cooking. Cooking your dinner and talking you through the ingredients and processes as they go, are your two personal chefs, clearly relishing their chance to play host for once (they even brew your post-prandial coffee). This is fine-dining at its geekiest yet most “relatable”.
A succession of ingredients you’ve never heard of in a succession of combinations you’d never have dreamt of. Pickled nasturtium root, its gnarled form resembling something you’d find in a jar at the Hunterian Museum as a sharp, crunchy contrast to near-raw Mylar prawns atop a wobble of prawn custard? Or sweet Portland crab claws with an intense “cabbage sauce” and Fera’s own lardo? Such pretty dishes, and all the prettier for the rough-hewn ceramics on which they’re served, a reminder of the ingredients’ bucolic origins.
On the ever-evolving menu, you won’t see the same dish twice, but you might well encounter Simon Rogan’s signature coal oil either on raw meat or fish or, in a delicately smoky mayonnaise with roe deer, beetroot, sloe and lovage.
Desserts were equally as intriguing; fermented buckwheat this and frozen sheep’s yoghurt that, and a bit of birch sap mousse thrown in for good measure.
The whole Aulis experience, is a truly brilliant one. You get up close and personal with the chefs, they engage with you about the food, the farm where it was grown and the producers they get it from, which is all rather fun.