The headline in the Telegraph asked “Is this the best restaurant in the world?” That question, asked by Jasper Conran, has been bugging me and tonight I had the chance to find out for myself. The restaurant is L’Enclume in Cartmel, the chef, Simon Rogan, the occasion a charity event hosted by Lakes Alive (http://www.lakesalive.org/). Simon Rogan introduced the meal himself, so we had no doubt that he was at the stove.
I wonder if Simon Rogan’s creations are more art than gastronomy? Simon uses craftsmanship to create something beautiful, which is as good a definition of art as you will find.
I’m not so sure that his creations succeed as gastronomy as well as they do as art. The problem is that most of the portions are so tiny that they are gone in one or two bites What the menu described as the MAINS was a piece of pork belly no larger than my little finger. You aren’t given the chance to appreciate what’s there. If this was poetry it would be a haiku; if it was music it would be a jingle.
But art it certainly is, and, to judge by the menu, Simon is something of a poet as well. Here is the menu in full:
Lakes Alive Dinner
HARMONIC FIELDS of vintage potatoes in onion ashes, whey sauce and sorrel
Reg’s non VAGABONDING chicken wings and oyster, rocket and pickled kohlrabi
Sole with radishes and cockles in view of MAUDIT SONNANTS, parsley and cider butter
Rare bread (sic) pork and cracklings, main of the BANQUET, salsify, onions and hedge garlic
No mint in MINTFEST but there is iced beets and sweet cheese, chervil and hazelnut