19 / 01 / 19

Fera at Claridge’s: The End of An Era.

The restaurant space at Claridge’s—London’s oldest and most prestigious hotel—has played host to some of the best dining experiences in the country over the years. 

The legendary Fera replaced Gordon Ramsey at Claridge’s, which the celebrity chef had run for 12 years before closing in June 2013.

The restaurant’s final service at Claridge’s was on Monday, 31st December 2018, marking the end of an era for this acclaimed Michelin-starred restaurant which opened four and a half years previously.  

Here, we’ll celebrate Fera’s rich legacy and look at the history and menu of the popular restaurant. 

Simon Rogan’s Fera

Fera at Claridge’s first opened in 2014 under the leadership of the award-winning chef Simon Rogan, who remained at the helm for three years. 

Throughout his career, Rogan has repeatedly astounded diners and critics alike with his masterful meals. He is responsible for fine dining experiences at the two-Michelin-starred L’Enclume, the Michelin-starred Rogan & Co, Aulis Cartmel, and Aulis London. 

Since leaving Fera, Simon Rogan has established Aulis Hong Kong and Roganic Hong Kong. 

The name ‘Fera’ comes from the Latin for ‘wild’, and the concept behind the restaurant was the seasonal cycle of nature. Rogan’s menu drew heavily on ingredients grown at his farm in Cumbria. Much of Rogan’s philosophy relates to sustainability in gastronomy. 

Sustainability was never far from Rogan’s mind, and Fera’s kitchen used built-in refrigeration and reclaimed heat in the kitchen. Using induction hobs also reduced the overall temperature and eased the impact on the kitchen’s ventilation system. This all helped lower the kitchen’s carbon footprint leading to BREAAM certification. 

The physical dining space of Fera was developed by Guy Oliver of Oliver Laws. The lighting design was a modern revaluation of the art deco aesthetic, which underscored Claridge’s heritage while providing a contemporary feel. 

The restaurant’s centrepiece tree sculpture cemented the connection between the wild nature experienced in the freshness of the ingredients and the imposing grandeur of Claridge’s. But despite the distinguished location of this restaurant, the simplicity of the interior design choices echoed back to Rogan’s Lake District roots. 

Under Rogan’s direction, Fera quickly earned a Michelin star. In 2015, Fera made 10th place in the Observer Food Monthly’s top 50, where Rogan’s £30 set three-course lunch menu was highly praised, and the smoked bantam yolk with salt-baked kohlrabi highlighted. 

When Rogan left in April 2017 in mutual agreement with Claridge’s, he was replaced by his protege Matt Starling. Following his departure, Rogan went on to explore permanent locations for his previous pop-up endeavour, Roganic. 

After his time at Fera’s, Matt Startling would work at a new Mayfair restaurant called Charlie’s at Brown’s Hotel. 

Fera’s Menu

Rogan’s ingredient focus brought regular changes to Fera’s menu, as the chef ensured he used the freshest flavours in season. Critics have highlighted delightful combinations like the smoked hake mousse, asparagus, kohlrabi and elderflower.

In addition to an à la carte, diners could also experience the five, seven or 18-course tasting menus. The Fera menus were impressive and seemingly effortless, with a carefree elegance to them. 

Tasting menus included adventurous delights such as; roast cod fillet with kale and salt-baked kohlrabi in lobster cream foam, crispy fried and stewed rabbit coupled with lovage and raw mackerel, and cubed Jerusalem artichokes in goat’s butter with hazelnuts and thin crispy chicken skins. 

On other occasions, diners might enjoy Gairloch prawns paired with borage and chicory in pork fat or plaice braised in nettle butter. 

With a lunch menu representing fantastic value for money and an evening menu encompassing the finest British cuisine, Fera held its reputation as a must-visit restaurant throughout its four years in operation. 

Desserts were not an afterthought at Fera. The options included baked yoghurt with perry-poached pear, smoked chocolate cream with verjus caramel and peanut ice cream,  muscovado and mint, and Bramley apple cake with cinnamon ice cream were all noteworthy additions. 

During Fera’s time at Claridge’s, the waiting staff’s attentiveness and the sommelier’s knowledge were repeatedly noted by both diners and critics. 

Even with the later change in the running of Fera, the quality and reputation of the food were still exceptionally high as Matt Starling maintained Simon Rogan’s attention to detail and commitment to fresh seasonal ingredients. 

Claridge’s History

Often regarded as an “annexe to Buckingham Palace” because of its connection to the British Royal Family, Claridge’s is one of the most highly regarded hotels in the UK. 

Situated on the corner of Brook Street and Davies Street in Mayfair, the five-star Claridge’s is a Grade II listed building, originally named Mivart’s Hotel when it opened in 1812. It was sold in 1854 when the hotel expanded by merging with a smaller neighbouring hotel owned by the Claridge’s. Briefly, the hotel was named “Mivart’s late Claridge’s”. 

In 1860, Queen Victoria visited Claridge’s, sealing the hotel’s reputation, which would go on to become home to Peter II of Yugoslavia during his exile in the Second World War and Winston Churchill after his 1945 election defeat. Since then, the 190-room Claridge’s has been frequented by celebrities, royalty, and dignitaries from around the world. 

The Qatari Maybourne Hotel Group currently owns the hotel. 

Fera’s Replacement

Claridge’s chosen replacement for Fera was Davies and Brook, run by Daniel Humm. Humm is the chef behind the success of New York’s esteemed Eleven Madison Park, which was previously ranked number one on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. 

Humm had previously been in the frame to run the esteemed Claridge’s restaurant space before Fera opened.

Davies and Brook closed at the end of December 2021 after Claridge’s disagreed with Humm’s wishes to operate as a vegan-only restaurant. 

Fera at Claridge’s: A Review

While it’s a given that eating at Claridge’s comes with high expectations, I’d read and heard countless great things about Fera that told me the restaurant knocked these for six. Since it opened at the prestigious hotel, I’d been looking for a good excuse to check it out — as if I’d actually need to try hard to find a reason to eat a boatload of excellent food.  

Thankfully, the gods of fine dining aligned quite quickly, and a few friends and I made the pilgrimage one pleasant Friday evening while visiting London.

I’d read about the chef Simon Rogan based his menu on seasonal produce from his Lake District farm. I didn’t bother trying to find out what was on the menu. There was no fantasising about what I would eat; I was leaving the experience to chance.

I’d seen photos of Fera’s interior, and to be frank, they didn’t do it justice. My only previous thought about the decor was that the central tree sprouting from the floor would give strong picnic vibes. How wrong I was. In the flesh, this imposing wildwood was beautiful and mesmerising. I wanted to get up and stroke its branches. I resisted. 

But aside from Fera’s prominent wood, this place oozed class and sophistication with an ambience that immediately relaxed us so much that we went straight to the more expensive section of the drinks menu. 

I went for a modestly-priced Taurasi Poliphemo. At £30 a glass, I was ready to enjoy every last drop (and then have another glass!). Elsewhere on my table, the “Plein Sud” went down well, as did the “Tommy Ruff” and the “Himmel Auf Erden”. 

Deciding on which wine to go for was hard work, though. The list was extensive. But the good news is that if you’re unsure what to drink, the sommelier appears to have a PhD in plonk. And, though he probably could wax lyrical about grape varieties, tannins, and soil pH at some random vineyard in Alsace, he gave his advice plainly and honestly. And he was right! Buy that man a drink!

After taking in the surroundings, the wine, and the conversation for a while, we turned our attention to the real reason we were there. Fera had recently been awarded a Michelin star, but the awards weren’t the motivating factor here; we were here for the menu and the experience of being waited on by the best of the best. 

I like to keep an open mind and embrace the things I don’t understand. So, scanning the menu, I wasn’t going to let my unfamiliarity with some of the interesting-sounding ingredients put me off. 

The smoked potatoes were my starter of choice. These came with a blackcurrant and herb sauce. Okay, nothing out of the ordinary about this meal, but with such an unlikely pairing, I really couldn’t imagine how this would taste before it arrived. I’m less sure I can even explain it after trying it. But it was terrific. 

Elsewhere, one of my dining companions enjoyed beef in coal oil which sounded curious, but he couldn’t shut up about how good it was. Another companion tucked into the Mackerel, which came with tomatoes and beetroot. Again, apparently excellent. 

For the main, I chose the salt-baked celeriac. The horseradish cream really made this meal pop. Two friends opted for the Cornish lamb, which came with oyster mushrooms and nettles. Neither were disappointed. Another friend had the roasted monkfish, which came with courgette and mussels. The mussels were less of a hit, but the overall feedback was good. 

Dessert time! One last test for the great Fera. Again, everything served up was perfection. Our table saw the chocolate and sweet clover mousse, two portions of strawberries, and one frozen apple. I had the mousse, and I was more than happy with the fantastic medley of flavours.

Nothing felt rushed at Fera. Though the restaurant was busy, the atmosphere was soothing and tranquil. The team was attentive and friendly, and not at all intrusive. Now, I’m no Michelin judge. But if I were, I’d be dishing out the stars. 

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